American Legion adjutant to step down

Published 10:00 am Monday, June 11, 2012

The adjutant for the American Legion Post 56 for the past four years is stepping down.

The club installs its new officers on Thursday, and Arnie Mulso won’t be among them. The adjutant is the club’s administrator and answers to the commander.

“I need to get back to my work,” the ING financial adviser said. “Being the adjutant was taking up too many hours for me.”

Roger Bakken

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The American Legion Post 56 is in a campaign to raise money so that it can stay afloat financially and keep its building. It hopes to raise $85,000 and is about a third of the way to its target. The money raised goes toward paying mortgage and vendor debts so they Legion can use revenue to pay payroll taxes it owes to the federal government.

That means the role of adjutant is key for garnering the trust of donors.

Cmdr. Roger Bakken said the campaign could take more than a year. He has offered the adjutant spot to a Legion member and has offered the other officer positions, too. He will find out today who accepted the roles.

Thursday is Flag Day. The Legion will have a chicken and ribs dinner for members and the general public from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., with a 15-minute flag-burning ceremony in the North Broadway Avenue parking lot. The installation ceremony starts at 8 p.m.

Bakken took over the role of commander in January after the former commander stepped down amid concerns of personal liability for the debt. On Thursday, Bakken will begin a one-year term as commander.

Mulso, 67, was a key figure in bringing the American Legion national commander to Albert Lea in August 2010 along with about 300 motorcycle riders for the National Legacy Run, a group of American Legion members from the U.S. and other countries who provide scholarships to children of soldiers who have lost their lives since Sept. 11.

The event filled the downtown with riders and community members. It was the first time a Legion national commander visited the Albert Lea post.

Mulso has been an organizer for many Legion ceremonies, from Memorial Day to Veterans Day. He was commander of the post in 2005-06 and oversaw remodeling of new paint, carpet and ceiling tile in the Legion’s bar.

Among other activities, the club is known for funding a baseball team. Last summer, the Albert Lea team made it to the state tournament, only to be defeated by Eden Prairie, the eventual national champs. Legion baseball for this summer started Thursday.

Mulso said he intends to help out at Legion events and will help train new officers on club procedures.

Bakken said the club is shuffling many of its officer roles to bring in fresh eyes and newer members and is re-examining its 11-member housing committee, which oversees the bar, kitchen and banquet facilities.

“It’s just a discussion committee right now,” he said.

Bakken said that after Thursday he wants it to have more authority and oversight to ensure the club is managed well. He also wants it to have a budget so it can pay for such things as audits. Bakken’s ideas for changing the structure of the club go before the board next week.

Bakken described other changes in the June newsletter. He said once the tax debt is satisfied, he hopes the bar can be incorporated, with bonding for anyone who handles money, as the club’s bylaws require.

Following the debt revelations last year, the club now retains an accounting firm and pays closer attention to its receipts.

The federal tax debt amounts to $122,000, including interest and penalties.

“If we look at what we have done since August 2011, it amounts to a pay down of $60,000,” the commander wrote. “The original debt was close to $225,000, which includes unpaid state taxes, unpaid vendors and a portion of the building loan.”

People wishing to donate should send a check to the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Foundation at 2580 Bridge Ave. with the annotation “Legion Mortgage and Debt Reduction.” The donations are tax-deductible.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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