Elks Lodge files for bankruptcy

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It’s now official.

Albert Lea Elks Lodge 813 filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Paul, according to court records.

Under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee will gather and sell the lodge’s nonexempt assets and use the proceeds to pay holders of claims. Unlike Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it does not incorporate a repayment plan. Chapter 7 is equated with asset liquidation.

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Records state the bankruptcy was filed Oct. 5, and a meeting for creditors is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in Mankato.

The Tribune contacted Elks Lodge State President Herman Wisneski, who referred the Tribune to Dwayne Rumney, sponsor and former Elks grand exalted ruler with the Grand Elks Lodge, the national organization.

Rumney said he did not know enough of the details about the local case to comment.

A call to a local Elks official went unreturned.

The bankruptcy filing comes after a series of economic setbacks for the lodge.

Because of these setbacks, the Grand Elks Lodge took over control of the Albert Lea lodge in June, and many kitchen and dining room employees were laid off.

Service clubs were notified the building would be closed to them starting Sept. 1.

Though the lodge’s membership has decreased by more than 1,000 members within the last few years, it remains the largest Elks club in Minnesota.

In 2006, the local lodge had more than 2,000 members and was deemed not only the largest Elks Lodge in Minnesota but also the 12th largest club in the country.

The Tribune printed a Sunday feature in April that year about the club’s stature. At that time, its membership had grown for 28 consecutive years.

This year, in September, local membership was reported at 867 members.