GV American Legion hopes election settles issues

GOLDEN VALLEY ­ After months under disputed leadership, the Golden Valley American Legion Post 22 has chosen a whole new slate of officers. Newly elected post Commander Chet Noyes hopes the Sept. 10 election will put arguments to rest and allow the post to resume its normal activities.

"The department (state) judge advocate declared me eligible to run for office. I received 56 votes and Janet Scalzo received 30. Another individual got five votes," he said. "I think that shows that most of the members who voted wanted me to be their commander. This should settle things. At least I sure hope it does."

The special election took place at Post 22 under the watchful eye of state and regional officials, who were present for the vote.

In addition to electing Noyes as the commander, the voting members chose Bobby Smith as first vice commander, Russell Jemison as second vice commander, Bob Lusher as finance officer, Dan Frasier as sergeant at arms, Lester Dorman as chaplain and Sherry Bruno, Ron Yung and Rudy Hindman as members-at-large.

As immediate past commander, Scalzo became a member of the executive committee. That designation is a routine move for outgoing commanders, Noyes said.

Crystal Rainwater, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, was suspended from post privileges and from office during Noyes's time out of office. One of the first orders of business, he said, was to reinstate her to member-in-good-standing status.

Noyes originally was elected commander in early May, but some members questioned the validity of his membership and ability to hold office, based on the fact that his transfer from another post received official district approval a few days after the vote occurred.

Another member was placed in his vacated seat until some research found she was eligible for Ladies Auxiliary membership, but not for legionnaire status because her tour of duty didn't fall within Legion date guidelines. Noyes, who was voted first vice commander at the July 6 election, became commander again and was stripped of the rank for a second time. He became commander for the third time since May when members voted for him in mid-July.

District Commander Barry Sharp then had all of the officers step down and he appointed Scalzo as interim post commander. She appointed all of the other officers under her.

A few weeks ago, Sharp called a special election for Sept. 10 to dispense with the pro tem officers' duties and to fill those leadership positions for the remainder of the elected 2005-2006 term. That's when Noyes took the helm for the fourth time this year.

"None of this should have happened to begin with. I've been sworn in as commander four times in two and a half months. That has to be a record," Noyes said. "Not one of the new officers voted in on Saturday came from the opposition. Our members don't want people in office who are here to stir up trouble."

The trouble to which he referred included disagreements over the post's financial records, membership information and bank accounts. "We're getting the stuff with the bank straightened out today," new Finance Officer Lusher said on Monday.

Noyes pointed out all of the post's elected officials are unpaid volunteers.

"We don't do it because we stand to make any money," Noyes said. "We run for office because we want to do what we can to keep the post running well. We do it because we want to help our veterans, our fellow comrades, their families and the community."

He said the confusion ultimately cost the community about $3,000 that would have been used for charitable purposes.

"We had to cancel some of the fund-raising activities of the Ladies Auxiliary until we got everything straightened out," Noyes said. "We just want to get everything back to normal."

American Legion Post 22 is at 3435 N. Verde Road in Golden Valley. Those seeking information concerning membership in the Legion, the Ladies Auxiliary or the Sons of the American Legion should call the post's office at 565-4545.