ANAVETs closed, again

For the second time in four months, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans club in Penticton is closed indefinitely.

The 350-member club, located at 257 Brunswick Street, has had its doors shut since Nov. 30, as an investigation into an internal theft goes on.

The ANAVET B.C. Command and a past-president of the Penticton club confirmed that $899 was stolen, as well as an undisclosed amount of liquor.

The investigation has been turned over to the RCMP, and B.C. Command will decide when the club is viable to reopen. 

"We're hoping that something can be accomplished sometime in January to reopen it... but of course that remains to be seen," Sharon Goshko said, president of the B.C. Command.

The club had previously been closed for about five weeks, until Oct. 27, as an investigation into the same matter was going on. 

"We had a meeting with their executive, asking them what they had done. Their answers were not to our satisfaction," Goshko said.

At that point, B.C. Command got rid of the club's executive board, and Goshko said an external management committee was put in place.

She added there were several options at that point for how to continue the investigation, and said that another indefinite closure of the club was ultimately a lighter way to go.

"We're here to keep these units open and the membership alive, and we're trying our darnest to do that."

John Kiceluk, who has been a member of the Penticton ANAVETs for 35 years and is a past-president of the club, said the members feel they are paying an unreasonable price for the actions of likely one person.

He said things weren't the same at the club when it reopened in late-October, following the initial investigation.

"They opened it up, they cut the hours back, they killed all the entertainment... People were sitting there watching the Grey Cup game, and at 6 o'clock they had to get the hell out. This isn't right, this is our club... the atmosphere was really heavy, put it that way."

Kiceluk said B.C. Command was "bent on closing it down," and said they wouldn't budge despite propositions by the Penticton club in recent meetings.

"Telling the story that they did all they could to keep it open is a lie... The membership has been treated with complete disregard."

He said the ANAVETs had a good club in Penticton prior to theft scandal, bringing in revenue between $22,000 and $25,000 monthly, and had over $100,000 in savings.

He added the closure hurts the community, as the club has been a big contributor to charitable organizations in Penticton, "we have $35,000 sitting in our charity account to give out."

"The last three years we bought service stocks for PTSD veterans... We gave to Discovery House and other places, we try to keep it local. It's a blow to these societies.

"I say the club's not dead yet... I just don't know what to do, to tell you the truth."

The ANAVETs is a military organization with 18,000 members in Canada. It also has branches in Vernon and Kelowna.


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