(Press Staff Photo by Stewart McClintic)
Silver City Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Andrew Housley, center, burns the final page of the lodge’s mortgage on Saturday evening during a celebration for paying off the mortgage in October 2016. With him are, from left, Casey Kimberly, Clem Eugene Bratcher, and, far right, Gary Ford.
Although the weather outside was cold and frightful, things were hot inside the Silver City Elks Lodge on Saturday evening when the club celebrated paying off their mortgage by burning it.
Members of the board of trustees took turns burning a page of the mortgage after a short speech reminiscing about the last 10 years spent in the lodge on South Cooper Street next to Highway 90.
Now that the mortgage is paid, Silver City Elks Lodge No. 413 will be able to focus more on what’s important to the lodge, which is giving back to the community in which it resides.
According to Exalted Ruler Andrew Housley, the lodge has given more than $81,000 to the community in charitable donations since 2015.
“We’re proud that it’s paid off because it will allow us to focus more on charity and those in need,” Housley said.
The Elks Lodge moved from their location downtown more than 10 years ago to their current location next to the High Desert Humane Society, and since then they have worked to pay off the nearly $200,000 mortgage.
Housley, who became Exalted Ruler in 2015, made it his goal to pay off the mortgage. Housley is resigning this year from his position as Exalted Ruler after two years presiding over the lodge, and is proud that he has been able to accomplish his goal. When he first took the helm of the lodge the mortgage was just under $100,000.
Paying off the mortgage of any lodge within the Elks organization is a big deal since the goal of the club is to give back to the community. The Elks donate to organizations like local high school sports teams, nonprofits, churches and a variety of others.
Housley said although they celebrated the paying off of the mortgage on Saturday, the lodge actually signed the paperwork paying off the mortgage back in October 2016.
Saturday’s celebration, although a couple of months late, also celebrated the lodge’s 119 years in Silver City after it was founded in 1898. Due to the dual celebration, many Elks dignitaries turned out for the event, including the state president and representatives of the Grand Elks Lodge.
Rick Callaway, Special Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of Roswell Lodge No. 969, on behalf of Grand Exalted Ruler John D. Amen, said that he was proud the Silver City Lodge was able to pay off their mortgage.
“I was excited we got this news. What this lodge and the leadership of this lodge has done is amazing,” Callaway said.
He said although much of his job generally deals with lodges in trouble, being part of something positive felt nice for a change.
“I was so proud to get to be a part of something good,” Callaway said.
Larry Curtis, the New Mexico Elks Association president, said he was also happy to be able to attend a mortgage burning ceremony at one of the state lodges.
“I congratulate you for fostering great leaders,” Curtis said. “When leadership extends past the lodge, it means a lot to us in the association and the people in New Mexico.”
For more information about Silver City Elks Lodge No. 413 visit silvercityelks.com and for more information about the national Elks Lodge visit elks.org.
Stewart McClintic may be reached at email@example.com.