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Honorary American Legion Drive commemorates veterans

SPRINGVILLE—Zoar Valley Road has been temporarily renamed in celebration of the American Legion’s 100th year anniversary. Housing the Concord American Legion Post 431, the road will be known as Honorary American Legion Drive for one year.

“The effort’s been going on for a few years,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at an unveiling event Aug. 3. “This has been some time in the making.”

The unveiling welcomed Poloncarz, Erie County Legislator John Mills, Erie County Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Bill Geary, Concord Supervisor Clyde Drake and Springville Mayor Williams Krebs. Members of the Legion were on hand, also.

“We thank the Legion for serving the veterans of our nation,” Poloncarz said. “Thank you to the Legion and the color guard … for ensuring veterans get the services they deserve.”

The portion renamed runs from South Cascade Drive to the Route 219 expressway. The temporary distinction is the first step in permanently renaming the road, which is the goal of Post 431. The American Legion Post 431 was founded on Sept. 16, 1919 as the Thurber Post 431, named for Lynn Thuber who lost his life in France. Six weeks later, the name was changed to the Concord American Legion Post 431. In 1991, the Post broke ground on its current home on Zoar Valley Road.

“Congratulations to the Legion on its upcoming milestone,” Drake said. “You are a source of pride for members and patriotic citizens. On behalf of citizens, congratulations to the American Legion.”

The Legion has worked over the last year to get the road renamed, and will continue to work to have the new name permanent. Krebs also offered his congratulations to Post 431, calling the process difficult and time consuming.

“The name designation serves as a reminder that, indeed, we should remember those who have and still serve,” Krebs said.

Looking to the future, members of the Post and Concord American Legion Auxiliary Unit 431 will work to get the name of Zoar Valley Road permanently changed to honor its veterans. In order to permanently change the name, 75 percent of the residents and business on the road have to agree to the name change. On that section of road, there are about six businesses and residences. The neighbors the Post has reached out to have been receptive to the idea, Ann Baglio, president of the Post 431 Auxiliary said, and she’s hoping the other property owners feel the same.

“We’re hoping there isn’t any push back,” said Baglio. “It’s in honor of our veterans … and I hope people get that.”

Members of the Legion, including Baglio and Hank Fuller, began the process of securing the temporary name change in May 2017 as a way to honor the veterans of the area and celebrate the centennial.

If the Post receives enough support, the process has to go back through Erie County and the New York State Department of Transportation before it can become permanent. Closer to home, the Legion has support from both Springville and Concord. Krebs noted there are three portions of roads named Zoar Valley Road, and renaming one to Honorary Legion Drive will help emergency personnel while responding to calls.

“The County and [Mills] have been absolutely wonderful in making this happen,” Fuller said. “This is only the first step. The town and village have been absolutely supportive.”

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