Elks Lodge back in business

The Colville Elks Lodge no. 1753 is back in business, or will be on Wednesday, Nov. 13 when the lodge officially re-opens.BPOE No. 1753, a fixture in the Colville valley for more than 80 years, has retained its charter with a new slated of officers, led by newly anointed Exalted Ruler, Ryke Dahlen.The national Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks suspended the charter of the Colville lodge in late September. The edict was signed by Elks Grand Exalted Ruler Millard Pickering and was approved at the local level by Grand Trustees and local lodge state sponsor, Roger True.At primary issue for the Elks hierarchy was the lack of a “full, valid, elected or appointed slate of officers.” According to the executive order suspending the charter of the local lodge, several chairs (positions) were not filled and record keeping had allegedly not been kept up to trustees’ and BPOE standards. Officers removedWhen the charter was suspended, those officers who did fill chairs were removed from office. That included then Exalted Ruler, Steve Frazier.Elks Trustees, including Gary Hicks of Spokane, temporarily took over operation of the local lodge and lounge, which were closed to members and guests during the time of charter suspension.During the suspension, the trustees in charge even took the unusual step of changing the locks on the aging Elk’s building, located adjacent to Dominion Meadows Golf Course. The golf course ran as usual until closing for the season at the end of October.Among the Elks’ holdings in Colville are the lodge building and 11 holes of the 18-hole DM golf course. The other seven holes fall under the aegis of the Dominion Meadows Athletic Association. Dahlen said that the local Elk’s membership has worked diligently—to reorganize and satisfy Grand Lodge demands in a very short period of time.“A lot of people have worked hard on this,” Dahlen said, adding that one trustee told him that the Colville lodge had created something of a “template” for Elks’ lodge reorganization success stories.“Gary Hicks said at a recent meeting that they (trustees) haven’t seen a lodge reinstated so quickly,” Dahlen said, adding that it isn’t uncommon for the Elks hierarchy “to do this, but it generally takes months and months. They (trustees) were basically overwhelmed at how fast the turnaround time was…we were ready to be sworn in (with a complete slate of new officers) at the last meeting.”Few lodges these days are successfully reorganized once charters are suspended—and certainly not this quickly if there is the impetus for reorganization. Nationally, Elks lodges have fallen on hard times and the BPOE is in decline. But not in Colville—not yet. The Colville lodge had been given until Jan. 10, 2014 to fill the required chairs and conduct regularly scheduled meetings—or face closure.The local lodge is well ahead of that schedule.Swearing in of new officers on Nov. 13All newly seated officers will be sworn in on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6 p.m., at the regularly scheduled lodge meeting. Grand Lodge representatives will be in attendance to assist with the ceremony.Dahlen said that all Elks members are invited to attend one of the most significant BPOE No. 1753 meetings in recent memory.A grand re-opening celebration will be held Friday, Nov. 15, starting at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge. The Brown Boyz will cater the party. “Members and guests are invited,” Dahlen said.Dahlen said that the local BPOE sent a letter to the Grand Lodge recently imploring them to make a decision on the restoration of the charter for BPOE no. 1753 much sooner than later.“(Having the lodge closed) was negatively impacting us,” added the Colville businessman, who said “we had to get this done…save the lodge, the lounge and the golf course. They are all intertwined. “We have a good group of guys who are excited about what has been done and are ready to hit the ground running.”Dahlen gave considerable credit to longtime local ldoge member and officer Steve West for his work to get the charter reinstated and the doors of the local lodge open—quickly.“Steve was incredible,” Dahlen said. “We wouldn’t have been able to put this together as quickly as we did without his great leadership.”Dahlen said that other events scheduled by the reorganized club includes the annual Elk’s Hoop Shoot contest, Elks Memorial Service on Dec. 1, the annual Breakfast With Santa on Saturday, Dec. 21 and New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl festivities.Dahlen said the lodge is currently accepting holiday party reservations. Call 684-2621 for more information.