Albert Lea Elks Lodge charter is revoked

Published 9:35 am Thursday, February 11, 2010

The debt-riddled Albert Lea Elks Lodge is no more.

The Grand Elks Lodge, the Chicago-based national organization, sent out letters in late January advising members of the Albert Lea chapter that they could join other chapters. The charter for the Albert Lea Elks Lodge No. 813 — which had been the largest in Minnesota — was revoked on Jan. 27.

The letter says the action is based on a violation of the constitution for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; specifically, “failure to maintain a sound financial condition.”

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The Elks Lodge has been in bankruptcy proceedings since October, and its building has been closed and unused since September.

One member of the Albert Lea Elks, who wished to remain anonymous, said the officers of the local lodge resigned at the urging of their lawyer to avoid personal liability in bankruptcy proceedings. He said the Albert Lea lodge can reorganize after three years.

Also, the dissolution of the local lodge protects the Grand Lodge from liability in the proceedings. The letter names three trustees — Ray Engelland of Willmar, Bill Schindele of Willmar and Randy Smith of Blooming Prairie — to oversee the order and collect the charter, books, papers, emblems and other regalia.

Elks Lodge No. 813 had about 400 members 33 years ago. Unlike other Elks lodges, it had a spacious facility that functioned as a supper club, banquet hall and meeting place. It also offered gambling such as bingo, raffles and pull-tabs. The club reached 2,100 members in 2006. The largest Elks in Minnesota, it was the 12th largest in the United States at the time.

It had 897 members in October. The lodge filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 5. Its liabilities outweighed its assets by more than $153,000. Through it all, the club remained the largest Elks in Minnesota, ahead of Owatonna by about 75 members.

Now, its members are considered “unaffiliated Elks” by the Grand Lodge, according to the letter.

Former treasurer Judy Verdoorn said whether to reorganize in three years is undetermined. She said many members have decided to join lodges in neighboring cities: Owatonna, Rochester or Austin.

The letters came with a form for members to apply for membership in another lodge.

Read a story from last fall about why the Elks Lodge went bankrupt

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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