ROXBURY, NJ –VFW Post 2833 hasn’t caught fire, yet, from its ancient electrical panels. The lights don’t dim, much, when the veterans use the microwave. Nobody smells insulation melting either, at least very often.
But the veterans who hang out Friday nights at the post, tucked away at the end of High Street in Kenvil, are not really interested in finding out just how long the old panels will last. They have new ones in boxes, waiting to be installed. They just can’t afford an electrician to do the job.
“None of us are electricians,” said former Army Ranger Bob Mederos. “We’re hoping to find one who will volunteer his time.”
The good-hearted electrician would be able to deduct the work from his taxes, noted VFW Post 2833 Quartermaster Jeffrey McDonald, hoping to sweeten the pot a little. Mederos, an electrical engineer, said the charitable electrician would be replacing a 200-amp main panel, installed in 1971, and a 100-amp subpanel that’s even older.
Star-Lo Electric of Parsippany donated the new equipment, said Mederos. The new panels sit in boxes in a closet. Mederos figures it will take a skilled electrician “two days, three days max” to perform the installation.
The work will set the stage for a major rehabilitation of the building’s kitchen and bathrooms. Those jobs were the subject of some government red-tape drama last year when they were put on hold after the post was told that, although it was promised federal grant money for the upgrades, the government was rescinding the offer.
The backpedaling had to do with a decision by officials that the VFW didn’t qualify for the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant it was offered. However, the plan was reincarnated in June when the Morris County freeholders _ agreeing on the wrongness of the HUD grant snafu _ decided to give the post $80,000 in county money for the work.
Bids for the construction are due April 1 and the VFW members said they expect to choose contractors before May. But somehow they still need to get those electrical panels installed.
“Right now, we don’t have enough funds from the county grant to do the electrical panels,” said Mederos. “With the new bathrooms and the new kitchen, we’ll need the electrical done.”
Even if the new kitchen and bathrooms weren't coming, the veterans think replacing the old panels would be prudent. Mederos said there's corrosion at work and the VFW can't even find breakers that fit the old boxes.
"It's to a point where we don't want the place burning down," he said.
Electricians interested in helping the vets can email the post’s commander, John Lehnert, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-214-5343.