Legion Finance Officer Andy Okinczyc, left, contractor Quinn Hampton of Sequim, Port Townsend Film Festival Executive Director Janette Force and American Legion Cmdr. Chuck Thomas pose with the two checks that were written to start upgrades on the Legion’s hall. (Port Townsend Film Festival)

Legion Finance Officer Andy Okinczyc, left, contractor Quinn Hampton of Sequim, Port Townsend Film Festival Executive Director Janette Force and American Legion Cmdr. Chuck Thomas pose with the two checks that were written to start upgrades on the Legion’s hall. (Port Townsend Film Festival)

Port Townsend American Legion receives $25,000 to begin upgrades from the Port Townsend Film Festival

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend American Legion has begun upgrades after a $25,000 donation from the Port Townsend Film Festival.

The American Legion began to install new insulation July 22 as a result of this donation, which Jan Halliday, Port Townsend Film Festival (PTFF) development, marketing and communication director, said was raised through community donations ranging from $10 to $16,000.

PTFF took over the fundraising campaign for the upgrades to the Legion’s USO Dance Hall in June — with the steep goal of $53,000 — that will pay for upgraded insulation, paint and soundproofing the hall needs.

“This has been a problem for the American Legion. They bought that building in 1946,” Halliday said. “If we do the math, that’s 73 years with no insulation and they have been trying to heat that building all those years.

“The other part of this project is two sets of soundproofed doors that will be between the hall and the bar. The amount of money we have raised will cover this first part.”

The American Legion is grateful for the help that PTFF has given them in this process, said Andy Okinczyc, Legion finance officer for the post at 209 Monroe St.

“We’re very, very happy to be part of this thing. We’ve been aware it was coming on,” Okinczyc said. “It’s not something we could have done on our own without the film festival reaching out their base.

“This is a project for the community. We’re thrilled quite frankly. It’s something that should have been done 20 years ago, if not 10.”

The building was built without insulation and contains high ceilings, no windows and wood floors, causing the hall to heat up in summer and be cold during the winter, Halliday said.

“The whole room looks like polka dots, since there are so many holes where they blew insulation into the walls,” Halliday said.

“Now they’re patching over that so the holes are plugged and then the painters come in and patch all that and sand it and they’ll start painting.

“Then the next step after that is hanging Armstrong acoustical tiles, which sound small but they’re big panels that are designed for soundproofing.”

The panels are ordered and are being custom made, Halliday said.

Two $25,000 checks were written the day the money was given to the American Legion, one to the Legion from PTFF and the other to the contractor from the Legion to begin buying supplies and building the team to start the upgrades.

“We raised the money because we’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and we have the capacity to record donor donations,” Halliday said. “We do it three different ways, we have a cross-checking system in the office and I have donor software so I can record the information I need to send out a tax letter, and also to generate a hand-written note.”

The Legion is a 501(c)(19) charitable organization, which is a military status nonprofit, but the legion doesn’t have the resources to manage the large amount of donations, Halliday said.

“It’s been a real pleasure to raise money for the legion,” Halliday said.

PTFF applied for a $21,000 grant Halliday hopes it will receive, but there is no guarantee.

The upgrades are planned to be completed by Sept. 15 at the latest, Halliday said.

To donate to the project, go to www.ptfilmfest.com or call 360-379-1333.

If donations are made to honor a family member or friend who served in the military, film festival organizers and those at the American Legion would like to be informed so the person can be publicly acknowledged.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].

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