ST. PETER, MN

After St. Peter American Legion received the gift of Whisky River last fall, Legion Members had plenty of different opinions on how the organization could use the old restaurant.

Ultimately, they brought in Region 9 Development Commission to conduct a feasibility study.

"So the feasibility study was really looking at could they get an unbiased decision as to what are some options to help guide the committee and membership through," explained Nicole Griensewic Mickelson of Region 9.

The in–depth study contained interviews with many in the community about the Legion as well as a wide range of data.

"Being able to gather that qualitative and quantitative data as well as looking at different traffic patterns, commuter labor sheds and as well as looking at the industry, industry trends with restaurants," added Griensewic Mickelson. "So looking at what is the density for how many bars and restaurants in a certain geography and being able to provide them with that data."

Before they saw the study, Legion members had a wide range of ideas.

"When we had our initial meeting, there were various opinions of what we should do to sell immediately, move immediately to sell the whole works," said Chairmen of the Gift Committee Shawn Schloesser. "That's the reason the feasibility study was created for us was to help provide us that data to help answer those questions."

But after going over the data at their meeting Monday night, the mood changed rather quickly.

"The conversation was rather different," said Schloesser. "It was much calmer, folks were very set in what their opinions were now given the new data and it was almost unanimous that we sell the property."

The Legion ultimately decided to put the building on the market with a goal of selling it by May 1.

Along with the building issue, the study also provided community feedback on how the Legion can improve how they serve the community and connect with more people.

"We've updated our Constitution and our bylaws," added Schloesser. "We're really looking for a cultural change both internally for the members that belong, but also externally for the services and benefits we provide the community."

"The American Legion is focusing on our four pillars which are Veterans and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism and Children in Youth. We want to focus on that in our community," said Post-37 Commander David Arpin.

The money raised by selling the restaurant will go toward updating the existing Post, as well as other Legion programs.

--KEYC News 12