Elks Lodge loses charter, closes


The Haines Elks Lodge lost its charter Saturday, ending 30 years of service to the Chilkat Valley.

A meeting of members held Friday and Saturday failed to muster interest enough to fill required officer positions for a lodge here, said Mike Luhr of Petersburg, a statewide Elks representative who presided over the meeting.

“There’s not the energy needed to carry on,” Luhr said Saturday morning during an interview at the darkened lodge, where workers were moving out cases of alcohol and pop. Opening a new lodge some time in the future is a possibility but it’s a lot easier to save a lodge than it is to start a new one, he said.

“I’m disappointed. It’s too bad. It’s a loss to the community,” Luhr said. Assets of the lodge will be liquidated to pay any outstanding bills and the building will likely be sold off, Luhr said.

The Elks raised between $10,000 and $30,000 per year for community groups and causes, including up to $5,000 in scholarships to Haines High School seniors and alumni. The group had recently secured a $20,000 federal grant to have youths remove invasive plants along local roadways.

“It’s too bad,” said James Sage, a 17-year club member. “But in a small town, that’s the way things sometimes go.” Sage sat on committees for Elks scholarship and youth activities, like the annual Hoop Shoot. “That’ll be missed,” he said.

Sage said he’s hoping another group steps in to provide scholarships. It was uncertain this week whether any group scholarships would be made this year.

Proceeds from the sale of the building will be placed in a five-year trust to be used in the event that another lodge opens in that time, Luhr said.

Three trustees – including Jerry Erny and Mike Binkie of Haines – are in charge of lodge assets and will sell inventory, furniture and fixtures in the building. Photos of past members and other personal items will be returned to respective families, Luhr said. Contact Erny and Binkie for information on personal or family items.

Lodge officials said this week that outstanding bills are minimal and local creditors will be paid.

The Haines Emblem Club, the Elks’ sister organization, will continue on but is seeking a new home, group treasurer Michelle Stigen said this week. Its next meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 25 at the Captain’s Choice lounge.

Emblem Club members will likely be renting a storage unit, as all the lodge’s kitchen appliances, as well as its tables and chairs, belong to the sister organization, Stigen said.

“It’s going to hurt our catering jobs,” Stigen said. The Emblem Club will seek partnerships with groups including the American Legion to put on events like the annual Ducks Unlimited banquet, she said. “The building was used a lot.”

The Elks’ Main Street property includes a two-story building dating to the mid-1960s and seven lots, amounting to 1.5 acres. The property is assessed at $375,000, including the $232,000 structure. The property includes seven full, RV hook-ups.

The Elks Lodge was established on Dec. 23, 1981, with Tom Ward Sr. as grand exalted ruler and Karl Ward as secretary. Previous to the Elks, the building housed the Bills Club, a kind of Elks junior organization.

Member Bill Rostad said he was disappointed only 14 local members turned out for a reorganization meeting Saturday morning. At a Friday meeting, 24 had come.

To keep a lodge going requires six officers and five trustees who are “fairly well committed,” and each of those individuals need to recruit a few others to help out, he said.

“It’s kind of a shame. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it,” Rostad said.“It’s hard to see it go.”


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