The issue of a meeting room for the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter #4, continued Tuesday morning before the Wetzel County Commission. Last week, it was learned that the DAV's meeting room was mistakenly given to Tom Myslinsky, the county commiss- ioner's VISTA volunteer as well as Grow Local, Go Local organizer.
On Tuesday, Commission President Don Mason told Charlie Clegg, adjunct of the DAV, that over the weekend he had spoken to Myslinsky, who said the veterans could use their former upstairs room, now Myslinsky's office. It was reported that Clegg stated the DAV will choose to go this route, instead of meeting in a room located in the downstairs of the memorial building, a suggestion made to them by the commission at last week's meeting.
Still a topic of discussion is the fact that the room could in fact belong to the DAV, cited by a possible agreement made between the county commission and former DAV member, Norman Gamble, who is now deceased. In a phone conversation later Tuesday, Clegg cited the agreement. Clegg states he was told by Gamble that a late-1970s agreement made by himself (Gamble) and the commission, states that as long as there is a DAV in New Martinsville, the members could meet at the War Memorial Building for free. This was contingent on them fulfilling their end of the agreement. Clegg explains, "We have always painted that cannon outside in the front of the War Memorial Building. The DAV, we paint it, or we have someone paint it and we pay them. The flags. . . I just put a new one up; it hasn't been very long ago. We make sure it's a new flag, not in bad shape or torn. We kept the room we were in painted and clean."
At the center of the controversy is a missing DAV flag, as well as some other items.
It could be said that the now missing flag is what led to the discovery that the room was now otherwise occupied. It all started when the group was planning for a comrade's funeral, said Clegg. "We went to get our DAV flag and the lock had been changed on the room," he said. Once the DAV was given entry to the room, they discovered their charter was missing. It was, however, later found at the courthouse. Other reportedly missing items are paperwork, an air conditioner, coffee service items, and their treasured DAV flag.
"They said they didn't know we were meeting there," said Clegg, who stated all that was returned to the DAV was their charter.
"The coffee mess was thrown away," stated Clegg. "(Myslinsky) was using the American flag; he was using it in the corner. Needless to say, the guy (Myslinsky) didn't look at the bottom of the stand." Clegg states that the bottom of the stand says it is the property of the Disabled American Veterans.
Myslinsky said today of the situation, "I'm more than accommodating if someone wants to use the room that I'm in for meetings. I'm glad the county commission let me use that room and I'm willing to share it with anyone they think needs it.
"I told Don Mason, if they wanted to have meetings in there, it was fine with me; (the room) is all nicely cleaned up for them now. It'll take about three minutes to get things off the table I'm using for a desk. I'll set up chairs for them too."
Clegg says that the DAV had in fact been meeting in the downstairs lobby of the War Memorial Building since last winter, though only because a fellow member of the group was handicapped. "He had been climbing the steps with two canes, and we figured he would get hurt worse, so we were meeting in the lobby down there. We left our charter there on the wall, our coffee mess, flags on wall. We intended to go back up. He was 86 and we were hoping he'd get better. . .we just kept meeting down there, and then he died."
Ironically it was when Clegg went to get the DAV flag for that member's service that he discovered the DAV had been locked out of their meeting room.
Clegg says of his fellow comrades' reactions to the news of the loss of their meeting place, "They were very hurt, taking our meeting place from us. It's just a low blow to the veterans; that's all I can say."
Despite the veterans meeting in the lobby, Clegg says the DAV still used the room. He states that the veterans made use of the room around Forget-Me-Not Day in June. He adds, "I was just over there not too long; it was this summer, June. I took the charter down, cleaned the charter, and I checked, made sure every thing was behind the charter, and put it back up." Clegg added, "There were things there, that they knew were the DAV's. I think when they saw the charter, they should've called. The only way you can have an organization, a chapter, is to have a charter."
Clegg adds, "One of our comrades said he'd personally throw the first $500 in and get to the bottom of this, and he's one of our officers."
A US Navy Vietnam Veteran, Clegg explains the importance of the DAV to him, "My father-in-law was Clarence Gray. He was a three-and-a-half year POW on the Death March of Bataan, under the Japanese. He was one of them that started the DAV over there, him and Norm Gamble and all of those guys. He would be so. . . so hurt if he knew that, because he just lived for the DAV. If he knew something like this happened, he and Norm Gamble would be just beside themselves. . .But they are both dead." Clegg adds, "I put a DAV flag on my father-in-law's grave."