Elks Lodge event to spotlight lodge's solvency

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Once in danger of losing their building headquarters, members of the Walla Walla Elks Lodge are celebrating a turnaround in the organization with a daylong party Saturday.

Through a series of cost-saving measures, the fraternal organization has been able to establish an operating budget that will allow it to stay at its current facility, officers say.

Listed on the market more than two years ago with a price of $2.95 million, the property at Rose and Colville streets will not be sold after all, according to an announcement. Service organizations across the country have faced dwindling membership and thus have been faced with closing. The local Elks club was in the same position, officers said in an interview in January 2011.

Adding to the disappointment was the issue of what to do with a building that’s one of the few of its kind in the community — a 22,000-square-foot space prime for hosting special events and available for rent by the general public.

In celebration of the recent progress, the Walla Walla Elks Lodge 287 will host a free open house designed to educate nonmembers and former members on the organization and its facility.

A few perks of the event: There will be free hot dogs 1-5 p.m. (other food will be available for purchase inside the lodge); a bouncy castle for kids will be available 1-5 p.m.; a special announcement and surprise unveiling will take place at 2 p.m.; music throughout the day will include a DJ outside, a performance by Gary Winston & the Real Deal from 2 to 5 p.m. and a performance by Penrose Lane from 7 to 11 p.m.; and a beer garden with Laht Neppur beer for purchase.

In the announcement, Exalted Ruler Tim Stewart said the goal of the lodge is “to be charitable to our community, and to reach out and make ourselves and this facility important to the community.”

The Elks is a more than 140-year-old fratneral order created not only to convey the principles of justice and charity and quicken the spirit of American patriotism, but to serve its community through benevolent programs.

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