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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • County no longer renting out Memorial Hall

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      Comment
  • A resolution suspending the public rental of Gridley's Veterans Memorial Hall was unanimously passed by Butte County Supervisors during their October 8, 2013 regular meeting. The resolution immediately suspends public rentals and local agency use of the Gridley institution. The resolution stated, "Whereas, the Butte County Board of Supervisors provided for construction of the Gridley Veterans Memorial Hall by resolution on February 2, 1925, for veteran soldiers, sailors and marines who served the United States honorably in any of its wars, and for the use or benefit of one or more veterans associations, with the full intent of complying with Sec. 4041 of the Political Code of the State of California of 1924, which in part clarified, "Any county may provide and maintain...memorial halls...for the use of patriotic, fraternal and benevolent associations of such persons." For decades, the hall has been used by others under California Military and Veterans Code, Div. 6, Ch. 2, Sec. 1264, which states "The governing body maintaining any facilities constructed or maintained pursuant to this chapter may provide for the use of such facilities by persons or organizations other than veterans, either free of charge or for stated compensation to aid in defraying the cost of maintenance, for any purpose not inconsistent with the continued use pursuant to this chapter, when such will not unduly interfere with the reasonable use of the facilities by veterans' associations." Gridley's Memorial Hall is the first of the county-owned veterans halls to undergo this change, in part because Gridley has always been the most used. Because of the size of the hall, big events such as crab feeds, fund raisers and meetings have been held there with no other halls available to rent in the same size. Other towns, such as Chico have many other venues to choose from. The VFW, American Legion and Auxiliary members will still be able to use the hall for fundraising events. Veterans sponsored events may continue but under the Veterans code, they are not allowed to make a profit for rentals - merely to cover maintenance costs for upkeep. It is only natural to think of the thousands of events held over the many years whether it be wedding receptions, funerals, bachelorettes, countless dances, all requiring a large hall. Gone are the days of the "Gold and Green" Balls where men and women were dressed to the nines and the hall was decorated so beautifully. The Halloween Carnival was held there many years before going to the Community Center. County staff directed staff to begin a program to engage veteran participation in 2003, to improve facility usage policies and procedures and increase revenue at the hall in an effort to offset the rising costs associated with its operation and maintenance which required a significant amount of property management. Times have changed unfortunately, and over the years the veterans' associations have suffered disrespect to their institutions and interference with the use of the hall at the hands of renters. Effort and cost associated with rental activity and local agency use of the Gridley hall have far exceeded any benefit to the veterans or the county. The hall will be used Monday, November 11, 2013, in observance of Veterans Day for the annual VFW, American Legion sponsored free family concert of patriotic music performed by the Oroville Community Band at 7 p.m.

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