Delano's American Legion holds open house, celebration

Delano Mayor Joe Aguirre was the host of the Nov. 11 Veterans Day open house and celebration at the American Legion Post No. 124.

The two-hour event started with an opening prayer by Pastor David Vivas and the national anthem sang by Delano Union School District's Brenda Perry Reed.

Then came addresses by American Legion Post Commander Jon Henry Medina, SAL Commander Monte Harrelson and Zana Chaney, Auxiliary first vice president.

By video message, Assemblyman Rudy Salas talked about the project's importance. Then project partners Janea Benton of Aera Energy, Tony Martinez of Rebuilding Together Kern County, Josh Taylor of Southwest Carpenters Local No. 661 and Eric Arias, from Salas' Bakersfield office took a few minutes to discuss how they got involved and what they did.

The keynote speaker came from veteran Chris Quinones.

Vivas provided the closing prayer and everyone went outside the American Legion post for the ribbon-cutting by the Delano Chamber of Commerce.

So how did this all begin? Harrelson and Casey Rhodes met with Salas’ staff, and things began to get moving. Home Depot got involved.

The Delano American Legion building was first built in 1924, so upgrades have been talked about for a "long time.”

“Nothing would have happened had Rudy (Salas) not gotten involved,” Rhodes said. “And Home Depot really stepped up and donated all the materials for first phase of the remodel.”

That first phase included roof repair, plastering the outside walls and a couple of fresh coats of paint for the weathered building on Kensington Street and 8th Avenue.

Salas also found a group of professional workers to provide the labor, Southwest Carpenter’s Union No. 661.

Volunteers have worked to improve this building that helps provide resources for service members, veterans and their community. Work was done when volunteers were available.

Other round one repairs include new lighting around the outside of the building, floodlights and security lights. There are also plans to redo the parking lot, Rhodes said. Round two repairs will focus on the inside of the hall, Harrelson said, including new ceiling fans and toilets.

It’s been a long time coming, they agreed. And it was hard getting started on the five-week project.

“It is great to see the community come together to revitalize the nearly 100-year-old Delano American Legion Hall for our local veterans,” Salas said last week. “I know how special this building is to the community having celebrated birthdays, quinceaneras and wedding anniversary parties here on many occasions.”

“Delano has a strong connection to service and our Armed Forces, which is why it is so special that this project be completed on Veterans Day,” Salas said. “These renovations would not be possible without the strong partnerships with the community, volunteers and Southwest Carpenters No. 661. I look forward to continuing to support our local veterans and I am excited to attend future community events at the revitalized American Legion Hall.”