Local Elks Lodge membership soars and gets younger

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WALLA WALLA — It’s a plus-one year for the Walla Walla Elks Lodge.

The fraternal organization had its first year-over-year membership in recent memory, according to an announcement.

The accomplishment is dubbed a “+1” by the national organization to denote lodges that end a year with at least one more member than when it started.

The Walla Walla lodge on Rose Street was ranked third of 39 lodges in the state for membership increases over the last year. It came in behind Ballard and Anacortes.

Consequently, the lodge will be honored with a special June reception at the state convention. A party will also be held Friday at 6 p.m. at the lodge with free appetizers and live music by Vintage.

Local membership Chairman Greg Heimgartner said that as of the end of March, membership was 672. The organization started 2012 with 642. Members initiated and reinstated 93 new members, and lost 63 because of death/non payment of dues/drops.

The average age also dropped from the low 70s to the high 60s, reflecting an increase in younger members.

Heimgartner attributed to the spike in membership to the organization “solidifying (its) existence in the community,” including its commitment to stay at its current facility and its various events.

“Throughout the many community events, open houses, etc., we have done, a lot of people have come through the doors and realized not only the fun things we do, but the charitable aspects of the organization as well as our local lodge,” he said.

He said the organization next plans to embark on a remodel of the Club Room as a major first step in modernizing the building.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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