Fall of Saigon Remembrance 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
VVA 9 Board Meeting – 11:00 a.m. (before every meeting)
General Membership Meeting – 1:00 p.m., Chapter Elections
Sick Call: Jerry Sebrowski’s wife, Ted Dzengelewski, Claude Marcoux’s father passed, Glenn Middler house fire. Thoughts and prayers extended to those others having health and other personal issues at this time.
1. Our elections come up this month. Paul Van Denabeele is the committee chair and will work with Jerry Stefanski and Dan Reynolds to oversee the event. They have an up to date membership roster in their possession. Members MUST be in good standing for a year in order to take part. To run for office a candidate must also be a member in good standing for a minimum of one year. Nominations opened at our March meeting. All positions are available. We will announce Member of the Year as well.
2. The Vietnamese American Association of Michigan will once again hold their Fall of Saigon ceremony at VVA 9 on April 30 from 10:00 a.m. until around 4:00 p.m. They will enter from Woodward and use the front half of the building and the Chapter will use the side door and meet in the back half.
We are invited to participate as we can, however they understand it is also our election meeting.
3. With the retirement of George Sheppard, Mike Sand has agreed and was voted in to finish out George’s term of office which expires this month. Mike has been working with chapter life member and retired financial manager John “Jack” Mullins to streamline the accounting methods used to manage chapter funds. VVA 9 now has a Quickbooks Non-Profit account which makes it much easier to monitor our finances as well as filing reports with VVA National and the IRS. Mike has also created and makes available various forms to track VVA 9 activities ranging from building use, membership matters and equipment loans, to required VVA National documents. Requests for donations and contributions from VVA 9 must be submitted in writing in advance to be reviewed and decided upon before enacted. Mike is taking a break from VVA 9 and will be relinquishing his duties effective April 30. The Chapter has openings for the positions he once filled.
4. Opening Day Tiger game was Friday, April 8. We had four large groups signed up and a great crowd showed up as well. The Chapter raised over $4000 thanks to the efforts of our loyal volunteers. It is extremely important that we continue to follow the City of Detroit’s policy regarding parking procedures and regulations. I have renewed my parking attendant permit and our contractors utilizing the lot have been very cooperative in grading the lot and more. Ed Tuggle and I spent three days going to the City to acquire the parking permits needed for this Detroit Tiger season. It cost $750 for the permit which goes until October 1, 2016. After that we must reapply with Planning and Development if we wish to continue.
5. VVA 9 has been asked to help with the Detroit VA Medical Center’s mission to recognize the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War. A date of Saturday, May 21 (Armed Forces Day) has been set, a committee has been formed, and an agenda has been established. The proposed site is Cass Park, the beginning time is 10:00 a.m. and it should run until around 3:00 p.m. A press release will be forthcoming. There is an afternoon Tiger game that day and we hope to dovetail into that to better recognize our Detroit area Vietnam vets.
6. Mark your calendars… We are registered for the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade held on Sunday, May 29 on Harper Avenue. Step off time is 1:00 pm sharp.
7. I appeared on WDIV Channel 4 to talk about the Life Chest project that Ms. Donna Yost has initiated. She hopes to have the chests made in Detroit by veterans like those currently living at Piquette Square. There is a building owned by a Vietnam vet that could make a good “factory” for these vets to make them.
8. On April 7 Mike Sand and I attended a public hearing at the City/County Building pertaining to the historic designation of certain buildings in the New District Detroit. Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM) has to submit plans to the City regarding their plans to develop the area. The Veterans Memorial Park of Detroit (VMPoD) is supposed to be included in this plan but it has not yet been revealed. The City, State and potential donors and supporters want answers which we have been promised. Patience is running thin and we are told that an announcement is forthcoming.
9. April 19th, I represented the Chapter at the Capitol regarding the addition of a POW/MIA Chair of Honor to be placed near the Michigan Vietnam Memorial Monument (MVMM. The Rolling Thunder organization is spearheading the project. Because of VVA 9’s major role in building the MVMM I was asked to attend.
10. Jim Froehlich volunteered to help with VVA 9’s role in the USS Detroit coming to Hart Plaza in September. VVA 9 has played a big part along with Ms. Janine Jacobs from the Navy League in making this happen. We will continue to keep you appraised of events as they come forth.
11. The Chapter now has an official document (brochure) to list the goals and achievements we have reached since 2005. This has been put in a printed form and will be used in promoting chapter projects as well as in our fundraising efforts.
12. I am continuing to negotiate with the contractors working downtown to provide parking as they in turn continue with their work. I met again with Commercial Contracting Corporation (CCC) in order to continue our relationship and split the proceeds 50/50 between our chapter budget and the separate veteran’s park matching fund which we have established. The amount they will pay us has been reduced from $8500 per month to $3000 because they went from over 40 cars to 15. Hopefully others will contract with us and up the ante. This relationship has been a real bonus for the chapter and we are fortunate to have the support of the City, the Ilitches and the construction companies. This agreement will have an effect on parking for other events which Dave and I will coordinate. If you are interested in helping with our parking detail, please let me know. Additionally, I have asked Mike Sand to send a letter to the buyer (Ilitches) asking for an extension of our agreement at least to the end of the year. We now have an agreement to do just that.
13. Mark Spooner and Tom Gavle gave us a tour of the WSU Block Building as a possible meeting place for the chapter. The Block Building has space available for lease/rent that the building committee feels would meet our needs. The office space toured is 2167 square feet at $1.17 per square foot or $2535.39 per month. The area would have to be reconfigured to meet the needs of Chapter 9 for an additional cost. I’ve asked Mike Sand to revisit the offer to meet at the Masonic Temple (MT) which he did. Mike and I sat with the management and looked at similar options. The Temple has a great space for us with a reception area, an office, and a meeting hall that can seat about 50 people. It overlooks Cass Park, is easily accessible, has parking and we can have food and refreshments catered by them or bring our own. Custodial service is included and secure access to the building is available until 10:00 p.m. There is no problem with adult beverages except that we must buy it from them at a cost of $2 per beer because of their liquor license. They will even stock a refrigerator for us. Should we need a larger space for a special event they would accommodate us just as they would with any other tenant. The cost is around $1100 per month which includes heat, electricity, air conditioning, maintenance and more. Our memorabilia items are welcome there also. The general manager, Mr. Steve Genther really wants more veteran activities in the facility in order to continue the legacy of members like George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and the like. Our affiliates such as the VMPoD, MDVC, Montford Point Marines, West Point Society and Triple Nickle are welcome to meet there as well. There is no long term commitment at the MT. We have also been looking into meeting places that the chapter could utilize at little to no cost as we come close to the end of our lease agreement. We have over ten offers and/or possibilities to begin with that are located in the downtown area central to our mission and goals. These include, but are not limited to; Wayne State University, the VA hospital, the DRMM, the Old Miami, Whole Foods, the Anchor Bar, Hard Rock Café, Traffic Jam & Snug, the Masonic Temple, the Detroit Athletic Club, the GAR Building, and the Detroit Boat Club. We have also been offered meeting space at various veteran and fraternal organization halls in the metro area at no charge. Any of these venues would eliminate the need for VVA 9 to spend thousands of dollars in overhead costs and leave more funds for the chapter to do membership and community work. Our current estimate is between $5000 and $8000 per month as a budget figure which equates to around $60,000 per year, if we are lucky. Once the income from parking and building use stops we will be mostly dependent on the revenue from the trust which could vary due to market fluctuations. It has been suggested that we meet at some of the above places on a trial basis to get a feel for what they have to offer. In the meantime, we are continuing to strive to get as much use out of our building as possible. I encourage the membership to use our facility while we have it. Chapter members may now rent our building for $150, nonmembers $350 per day. Additionally, a $200 deposit is required for clean-up and mishaps. A building use form MUST be filed in order for us to keep track of when the facility was used. Forms are available through Dave, me or one can be sent from Mike Sand on line. Contact Dave Trevino or myself to sign up. NOTE: Chapter members using the building MUST clean up after themselves. We are all volunteers and everyone needs to pitch in when it comes to keeping a clean house.
14. As president I propose that we be out of the current building by December 7. You should be able to remember the date. By that time, we should have a new meeting place, find homes for our keepsakes and we can vacate and close all building expenses related to operations of 2951 Woodward.
Chapter 9 President Paul Palazzolo