One of the most active organizations in the community is the West Ward Rod and Gun Club of Coaldale. Established back in 1938, the organization at times has boasted of close to 700 memebrs during its peak years.
The club had its origin in a small building owned by Bobby Snedden, on his Seek property, before moving to a site maintained by the late Elbert “Yab” Davis in 1942.
The club functioned at this dwelling until 1946 when members found a move necessary and relocated in the cellar of “Buffy” Williams’ at Sixth and Phillips Streets. The continued expansion of membership again brought about relocation just prior to 1950 and the members utilized the basement of the building where the club is presently housed.
In reality, the club is governed by the Rod and Gun Inn, Inc., headed by a board of governors of which Ted Bortnick is presently serving as President, with Bob Parfitt Vice President, John Sweeney Secretary, and Joe Conahan Treasurer. Edwin Mantz was recently reelected to another term as President of the club itself with Ron Unitis Vice President, and George Bottomley Secretary, Treasurer.
The club, under steady management, has made progress down through the years and had offered its spacious quarters to any civic, service or fraternal groups who presented requests. Boy Scouts gather weekly in the basement for their sessions.
In the early 1960s members decided additional space was necessary and began making plans to move upstairs. A $26,000 renovation program was undertaken and on Christmas Eve of 1963 the transition took place to the delight of the expanding membership. The club boasts one of the largest bars in the area, a modern kitchen and outstanding club quarters.
The organization is quick to support any community projects and several years back embarked on a refurbishing program for the old trophy case at the former Coaldale High School. The result is a truly remarkable display of accomplishments of Coaldale athletes and teams. Decorated in orange and black, the glass case is a proud memento of the club members.
Another outstanding event sponsored by the organization is the Annual Easter Egg Hunt, which is held the day before the holiday. Hundreds of youngsters scurry the grounds of the club searching for prize eggs and very seldom does any youth go away with a saddened heart. The club picks up the bulk of the expenses after a solicitation of members.
There are many other significant accomplishments for which the West Ward Rod and Gun Club should be recognized. However, officials of the non-profit organization are content to stand on the present merits and aid the community and area whenever called upon.