Elks Lodge 2871 in Okeechobee has new home

On Jan. 5, the Lake Okeechobee Elks Lodge 2871 hosted the Grand Opening of its new Lodge Building at 131 N.W. 36th St., Okeechobee. It was a great day! The festivities began with a ribbon-cutting by Past National President PGER Micheal Smith and Exulted Ruler Michelle Harper as lodge members and the public looked on. That was followed by the Lodge Dedication, led by PGER Micheal Smith, and a team of past and present district deputies from West Palm Beach, Clewiston and Jupiter lodges. Then the festivities began!

Leading off the fun was a fabulous performance of the “Chobee Steelers,” who delighted the crowd from all over Florida with their incredible talents! The crowd loved them! They were followed by the classic country music band “HIRED GUNS” who entertained for three more hours. Rick Krnotch, the leader of the band, stated it was “a pleasure and an honor preforming for this event! We understand how much this charitable nonprofit organization does for our children and veterans of our community, and having this building will only make it better!”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The Okeechobee Elks Lodge enjoyed grand opening ceremonies in January. Pictured left to right, are (back row) Sean Maquire, PDD, WPB; Rick Krnotch, lecturing knight; John Cooper, secretary; Robin Dailey Cooper, leading knight; Shirley Matson and Les Bacuam, PDD, Clewiston; (front row) David Monsour, district deputy, Jupiter; PSP GER Micheal Smith, Plant City; Patty Walters, treasurer; Margaret Froggatt, chaplain; Michelle Harper, exalted ruler; Patty Philipps, PDD, WPB; and Jimmy McDuffie, PDD, Clewiston.

Negotiations for the lease of this building began in May and culminated with the receipt of the keys on Aug. 1. Through an estimate of 1,000 hours of volunteer time and a little help from contractor Danny Creech, the lodge had a soft opening on Dec. 7, 2018.

If you are not familiar with this premier charitable, fraternal organization, here are some brief facts, but by no means the complete description. The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks has a history in this country of 150 years. Elks virtues are charity, fidelity, justice and brotherly love. Elks charities across America provide $481.7 million toward Elks charitable projects nationwide.

In the State of Florida, the Elks date back to 1904. Our State Projects are the physical and occupational therapy we provide to children who may otherwise not receive this important treatment and our Florida State Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, offering the summer camp experience to children who may never have this opportunity otherwise. But that’s not all!

Did you know that in Okeechobee, the local Elks have hosted Soccer Shoots and Hoop Shoots for kids under 8 up to 16 years old? Last year, the Elks referred 11 kids to the camp in Umatilla. The Elks also provided 550 second-graders with a book of their own to keep, “B is for Buckaroo.” The lodge also sponsored the Halloween Extravaganza at the Agri-Civic Center with over 2,200 attendees.

Elks have assisted the community by sponsoring the D.A.R.E. Program for the fifth-graders. The Elks hosted speaker Ray Lazano for fourth-grade through senior high students. He shared the facts about drugs, alcohol and nicotine addiction.

The Elks have obtained $2,000 to assist the Okeechobee High School JROTC and $10,000 to assist the homeless veterans and those who are at risk of homelessness. The Elks also plan to present two $500 local scholarships this year.

The Okeechobee Elks Lodge is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days, and visitors are welcome. The lodge is located in the Curran Plaza on U.S. 441 North, by the Rio Bravo Restaurant.

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