|A business or organization getting a new boiler installed might not make news unless it's for a school or a government entity. But in this case, a local veterans' organization is the recipient, and it quite literally saved the group's life.
The Galesburg V.F.W. Post 2257 Wednesday night celebrated the installation of their new boiler to replace one that fell into disrepair. The boiler, and the installation, would have cost upwards of $60,000, but both were donated.
7th Ward Alderman Mike Lummis is the VFW's Quartermaster, and says the post has suffered through tough economic times like the rest of us along with loss of membership, leading to what he calls "the perfect storm" starting 18 months ago.
"Escalating cost -- we all know what our Ameren IP bills have done," Lummis said.
"Our bingo income has dropped. There was frustration among members. There were tempers getting short. The Post was in a crisis mode. And word of this was getting out. It was going public."
Lummis says that led to newspaper articles, including one that ended up in "USA Today" that caught the eye of Indiana-based Weil-McLain, who called the post to offer up the boiler -- and, later, Pete's Service Pro, who donated the labor after a quote from another company was financially impossible.
Weil-McLain Marketing and Communications Manager Daniel Vassar says this sort of thing has never come up before.
"When we were handed this task, we were kind of operating without parachutes. We've never done something like this before," Vassar said. "We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. When I called (Lummis) the last time, there was some worry in my voice. But, I did know, deep down, we were going to make this happen."
Pete Logan owns Pete's Service Pro. Logan, whose father was a VFW member, says installing the boiler was a no-brainer for him.
"If this is the least I can do, (it's) peanuts," Logan said. "(The veterans) have given their lives for what we are. If I can step up to the plate and do this, I said it's peanuts. It's the least we can do."
Logan, who gave the credit to his employees, says he was simply stepping up and doing the right thing.
Lummis says the boiler installation has led to a "new beginning" for both the Post, and the home of the Admiral James Stockdale Museum.
For the original "USA Today" article highlighting Post 2257, CLICK HERE.
To listen to Wednesday night's boiler dedication ceremony, CLICK HERE (mp3 format, approximately 45 minutes. EDITOR'S NOTE: Mayor Sal Garza spoke off microphone at the event. We tried to amplify the sound as best as possible so he could be heard.).
(Mayor Sal Garza speaks at Wednesday night's dedication ceremony.)
(Officials from Weil-McLain receive gifts of thanks from Post 2257 Wednesday night.)
(Pete Logan, owner of Pete's Service Pro, speaks Wednesday night.)
(Officials from Post 2257, Weil-McLain, and Pete's Service Pro stand in front of the new boiler Wednesday night. WGIL News Story and Photos by Will Stevenson.)