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Van Meter Post 403 grand opening is set for Saturday

A 5-year-old vision will become reality Saturday when Van Meter American Legion Post 403 holds a grand opening to celebrate completion of the construction of a new multi-use building.

While one of its main uses will be a new “home” for Post 403, another of its important uses will be to offer comfort to families of those veterans who will be buried in the nearby Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Interstate-80. Families of veterans may use the facility to gather while burial rites are readied at the cemetery, something that was not available to those families in the past. The Legion Post, especially, will be a welcomed spot to gather during inclement weather.

The “vision” for the new building came about in 2008 for two main reasons – first, Post 403’s downtown building was in need of substantial repair, and, second, the nearby veteran’s cemetery needed a building for use in some ceremonies.

While both of those goals are met with finalization of construction, the new building also brings with it some other benefits for area residents. Already, it is being used during weekdays as a gathering spot for local residents to enjoy morning coffee and pastries (available for a “good will” donation) and a large convention area is available for rent by any number of area groups – both non-profit and for profit groups.

A wide variety of fund-raisers were held over the past five years to ensure the building’s completion. In addition, a number of donors added to the coffers.

Leslie Herman is the building manager.

“In addition to our morning coffee and pastry (open from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday), the new 403 Lounge is open Thursday through Saturday,” Herman said.

For now, the Lounge is open Thursday through Saturday from 4-8 p.m.

Rental of the facility, in whole or in part, is available to all. Van Meter residents, veterans and non-profit groups will all qualify for discount rates. For example, rental of the full facility during weekdays by those groups is $50 per hour or $500 per day and includes the banquet room, dining area, conference room, kitchen and patio. For profit groups will be charged $100 per hour and $1,800 per day. Rental of just the banquet room, half-banquet room, dining area, conference room, kitchen and/or bar are also available (call 515-996-9166 for details).

Saturday’s grand opening ceremony will be held from 2-6 p.m., beginning with a flag raising ceremony. A ribbon cutting will be held at 3 p.m. and a program will follow.

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