Chief Petty Officers pay bill for Curtis Bay veterans
Curtis Bay's bright marble war memorial, threatened with the prospect of foreclosure because of an unpaid sidewalk repair bill, is being saved by the kindness of soldiers and sailors. The Chief Petty Officers Association at Fort Meade says it will donate the $7,225 that the American Legion post in Curtis Bay needs to pay Baltimore for repairs to about 200 feet of sidewalk around the monument, at Church Street and Fairhaven Avenue. "If people in the military don't care about veterans, who will?" said Jim Brady, an Army staff sergeant at Fort Meade who spread the word about the Legion post's predicament. Last year, the city repaired the sidewalks around the memorial, which honors all the men from Curtis Bay and Brooklyn who gave their lives defending the United States. The bill for the repair work was $14,450, a figure that was cut in half by the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals.
The bill came due Feb. 1, but went unpaid. If the Legion doesn't pay soon, city officials would have little choice but to put a lien on the property, which could expose the memorial to tax sale and foreclosure in May. Members of American Legion Post 187, which is fast losing its aging membership, said they couldn't afford the $7,225, and expressed worry about the memorial's future. After reading a story in The Sun about the post's predicament, Brady sent e-mails seeking help to pay the bill, and the Chief Petty Officers, a Navy fraternal group, came forward."I felt so good when I heard about the check, I could have sat down and cried," said Milton Zientek, a retired hardware store owner who is Post 187's commander. "I didn't think there was anybody who still cared." Zientek said he also received two unsolicited $25 checks in the mail. The check for $7,225 is in the mail, Brady and Zientek said. Brady said soldiers at the base were exploring the possibility of treating a group that would provide regular assistance to American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in the Baltimore area. Active-duty soldiers would also benefit from talking to veterans, said Brady. "It made me sick what happened with the Legion hall in Curtis Bay, and I don't want to see it happen again," he said. "These guys are dying, and we're not going to hear their stories."