Illinois Elks lodges are encouraged to post their community news on the illinoiselks.org website.
The process is easy. Simply click on the “members only” drop-down box at the top of the homepage and click on the listing “submit an article” at the bottom. From there, just fill in the blanks and submit.
IEA Webmaster Eric Judy listed the addition of the form in his Mid-Winter report.
He said links are also available to forms that lodges need to apply for a $1,500 Elks National Foundation Anniversary grant available to all lodges to assist in celebrating the BPOE’s 150th anniversary.
“Any information you would like, please let us know,” Judy said.
Judy has also developed an electronic reminder to lodge secretaries to update their mailing lists with the Illinois Elks Children’s Care Corporation, which maintains the IEA mailing list.
The illinoiselks.org website had more than 4,000 visits in 2017, and are currently averaging 300 hits per month, Judy said.
A Vienna police officer’s work to institute safety and anti-drug programs at local schools has earned him the 2017-18 IEA Enrique Camarena Award.
Vienna Officer Phillip Stewart received the honor at the IEA Mid-Winter meeting in Springfield in January based on the nomination of Stewart’s boss, Vienna Police Chief Jim Miller.
“I write this nomination letter in the hopes that Officer Stewart wold be recognized for the Enrique Camarena Award for all of the past 25 years that Officer Stewart has dedicated to public safety, crime prevention, drug and substance abuse prevention and education and enforcement, and working with the Johnson County public schools on all type of issues,” Miller said.
Stewart’s more recent efforts have centered on implementing programs at Vienna grade school and high school to promote internet safety, combat bullying, resolve truancy issues, put together a threat assessment team, coordinate intruder training with school staff and organize K9 searches.
As a U.S. Army veteran, Miller said, Stewart learned valuable leadership skills, which he has brought to the Vienna police department. He also is a former K9 officer with many arrests for illegal drugs to his credit.
“Officer Stewart attends school functions outside of regular school hours on his own time,” Miller said, citing school activities and sporting events. “Officer Stewart has always made himself available to school staff, parents and school children while in attendance in his off time at these school activities.”
A mid-January membership report listed the IEA with 26,979 members, up by 597 members from the 26,383 at the start of 2017-18.
The bad news listed delinquencies at 1,965, leaving the IEA 1,368 away from a gain for the year, IEA Lapsation Chairman Merle Evans said in his Mid-Winter report.
The report also said 211 candidates were awaiting initiation.
“This, between additional new candidates, reinstatements and reclaiming of current delinquents, our gain goal is about 1,157,” Evans emphasized.
District delinquency rates ranged from a low of 3.1 percent in the East District to a high of 9.4 percent for South Central.
Grand Exalted Ruler Malcolm McPherson, who attended the January IEA meeting, said a membership gain nationally would be the first since 1980, and would coincide with the BPOE’s 150th anniversary celebration at San Antonio in July.
“Our efforts in Illinois can assist in reaching this goal,” Evans told meeting attendees.
To help cut down on delinquencies, Evans presented two sample delinquency reminder letters for discussion. Also, Evans said Grand Lodge mailed a dues notice to the current 66,000-plus unpaid members nationwide.
“This effort is a test of the use of an outside firm to provide printing, mailing and tracking of delinquent member dues notices,” Evans said.
Evans also suggested that lodges prioritize their delinquencies. Concentrate on those who “might still pay,” he urged. The “will not or probably will not” group should be a lesser priority.
“It is time to be creative, think outside the box, to bring our delinquents back to current, paid-up status,” Evans said. “Illinois, let’s not quit now. Keep up the fight!”
Teamwork would be a great approach for lodges in orienting new Elks members, IEA Orientation Chair Sharon Kay Dirck said in her Mid-Winter report.
“You need to ask members within your lodge to come and help with orientation,” Dirck said, suggesting those who have worked with veterans, the Illinois Elks Children’s Care Corporation, scholarships,the Elks National Foundation and others.
“(These) are just a few examples of members who can share their experiences and/or enthusiasm on those great things we do,” she said, adding that someone from a lodge committee that needs more volunteers should also be a part of the orientation mix.
“Have the leading knight attend and talk about becoming an officer,” Dirck said. “These members will be able to instill so much confidence and enthusiasm with their knowledge of our programs and what it means to be an Elk that the new members will know they made the right choice to join such an amazing Order.”
IEA Lodge Activities Chairman Dennis Bierman is calling on Illinois Elks to use the BPOE’s 150th anniversary as a way to showcase their lodges.
The celebration,which started at the Grand Lodge Session in Reno, will culminate at the session in July in San Antonio.
“Have your local leaders declare a special day for the Elks and have an open house to show the public all the things we do, that no one ever talks about,” Bierman told committee meeting attendees at the Mid-Winter meeting. “This can be a great way to get new members so that we can ‘Get on Board’ with our State President Dave Jurmu’.”
The Elks National Foundation is also offering lodges $1,500 anniversary grants to promote their lodges during the 150th year celebration.
Also discussed was the new BPOE News group on Facebook, which Bierman said is doing a great job of spreading the news about the Elks nationwide.
Bierman also initiated discussion of the various Grand Lodge awards, including Elk of the Year, Family and Teen of the Year and the All American Lodge Contest “A.”
“I ask that all lodges use the Contest A application as one way to measure the success of their year,” Bierman said. “Use this as a tool to push future exalted rulers to work a little harder to beat your score.”
The IEA is using the nationwide focus on sexual harassment to emphasize that the Elks have never and will never tolerate sexual harassment.
“Every lodge and every member need to make sure that this is not going on in their lodge,” IEA Judiciary Chair Ali Orr said in her Mid-Winter report. “It is absolutely unacceptable behavior and no one should ever have to experience that, especially in an Elks lodge.
“That behavior taking place in an Elks lodge will also have disastrous effects for that lodge, this association and the entire BPOE. Do not let that happen.”
Orr also cautioned lodges to beware of individuals trying to scam them.
“Springfield Lodge had two men show up posing as IRS agents,” she said. “They were not IRS agents, and thankfully our secretary realized this.”
Alluding to a question that arose in September, Orr also confirmed that Queen of Hearts drawings at local lodges are for “members and their spouses only.”
Charleston Lodge 623, with the IEA’s largest projected membership gain as of mid-January, discussed its methods of attracting new members.
The discussion took place by the IEA Membership Committee at the Mid-Winter meeting in January.
Also, committee co-chairs Chris Ord and Robin Lemay said the committee plans to request a meeting with IEA President Dave Jurmu and First Vice President Tom Deien to discuss an action plan for recruiting new members.
The Illinois Elks Publication Corporation, at its Mid-Winter meeting in January, discussed the possibility of cutting from four to three the number of Newsette mailings each year.
The cutback, if approved, would be an austerity move brought on by dwindling support of the Newsette and increased costs.
Historically, the Newsette has been funded by a $1 cut from the dues of each Illinois Elks member. As IEA membership has declined over the years, the Newsette has received support from the state charitable trust, amounting to $17,000 in 2017-18 and $18,000 proposed for 2018-19.
The increased support has come despite a spike in postal returns of Newsettes being sent to bad addresses. Because of the Newsette’s mailing classification, the Publication Corporation is charged 58 cents for each bad address.
The Publication Corporation had budgeted $85 for bad addresses in 2017-18, but the expense was listed at $475 after three of the four mailings so far in 2017-18.
“These issues will be topics of discussion at our next meeting,” Publication Corporation Chair Mark Bump said in his Mid-Winter report.
Also at that corporation meeting, the current slate of officers – Bump as chairman, Gene Howe as vice chairman, Vicki Williams as treasurer and Joe Baker as editor/secretary – was elected to serve in their same posts for 2018-19.
In addition, the corporation’s longtime auditor, Danville-based Crowder CPA’s, was retained.
Mt. Vernon Lodge 819, the only lodge to compete in the IEA team competition at the Mid-Winter meeting, will represent the IEA at the Grand Lodge ritual competition in July at the Elks National Convention in San Antonio in July.
Competing for Mt. Vernon were Tiler Bob Cain, candidate Amanda McNear, Inner Guard Debbie Summers, Chaplain Jimmy Jones,Esquire Dave Rakey, Lecturing Knight Tim Bain, Loyal Knight Larry George, Leading Knight Dave Edwards and Exalted Ruler John Tucker.
Tucker was also the winner of the 11 O’clock Toast competition.
Helping judge the IEA ritual meet were Lowell Armstrong of Macomb 1009, Past State President Ray Summers and wife Leta of Champaign-Urbana 2497, John Helzel of Flora 1659, PSP Kirk Wallace and wife Debbie of Fairfield 1631 and John Baylor of Flora 1659.
“There are no losers in this competition, and I want to thank these individuals for helping keep ritual alive in Illinois,” IEA Ritual Chairman Roger Quinn said.
More than 1,200 high school students completed applications for Most Valuable Student Scholarships for 2017-18, including 381 boys and 862 girls.
That 1,243 completed applications contrasted with the 2,313 applications that were not completed, including some that lacked a required counselor’s report.
IEA Scholarship Chair Gail Sessler listed the numbers in her Mid-Winter report.
Other topics addressed at the scholarship committee meeting:
n Because the Elks National Foundation uses email from the Chicago Lodge Membership System, IEA scholarship officials and applicants are cautioned to check their computer spam and junk folder for communications.
“This year, we had some with no emails or wrong emails,” Sessler said.
n Kate Edsey from ENF noted that growing pains continue for the new system of managing scholarship applications that was implemented two years ago.
“The biggest improvement is that we are not misplacing or losing applications” as much as before, Sessler quoted Edsay as saying.
The IEA had four of its eight districts and 17 competitors compete at the IEA Soccer Shoot in September, the same turnout for the 2016 event.
Soccer Shoot co-chair Steve Albrecht is hopeful one or two districts will participate this year, probably in late September. The date will be set by the May meeting.
In his Mid-Winter report to the IEA, Albrecht said he is asking exalted rulers and district vice presidents to try to appoint committee chairs who have kids or friends involved in soccer.
“This may spark some interest in your lodge or district,” Albrecht said, adding that he or Past State President Darrell Swisher would be willing to help any lodge that needs it.
A successful harassment and discrimination lawsuit can be enough for an Elks lodge to lose its charter.
IEA Secretary Marvin Leathers recounted a story at the trustees training session in January of a lodge that was sued over overt harassment.
The suit eventually resulted in the loss of the lodge’s charter and the officers that participated personally liable for a large money judgment, IEA trustees training coordinator Matthew Stropes quoted Leathers as saying in his Mid-Winter report.
Stropes advised lodges to have a written harassment policy on file and for each employee to review the policy every year. The policy must contain a complaint procedure posted along with other employment posters as required by law.
“Any and all complaints need to be taken seriously and investigated, with the findings of the investigation being thoroughly documented,” Stropes said, adding that lodge officers should also document that they are aware of the policy.
For more information, consult the Grand Lodge Discrimination and Harassment Guidelines for Local Lodges, which is posted on the Elks website at https://www.elks.org/grandlodge/manuals/default.cfm.
Stropes also offered tips for lodges using social media to reach their members and potential members.
“For lodges that provide wifi connections at the club/home facility, it is imperative that such connections be password-restricted (with) some level of encryption to avoid any unwanted use.”
Stropes urged lodges to document their lodge internet policies within their house rules.
Also, any pictures that are posted online must have signed releases on file, “especially if those pictures are of children,” Stropes said. “Never post the names of children on your lodge website or social media.”
For insurance, Stropes reminded attendees that they need to regularly reevaluate the insurance they have on their lodges to ensure that it is adequate. The coverage should include personal property and business fixtures.
Lodges were also informed that they should have a youth protection policy, which should be directed toward any lodge volunteer that works with children.
For information, consult the Youth Supervision Guide, which is available at the aforementioned hyperlink at Elks.org.
The IEA Youth Activities Committee, at its Mid-Winter meeting in January, reviewed how to access all the program information and certificates that lodges need to participate in Grand Lodge youth activities contests and programs.
Simply go to the elks.org website at https://www.elks.org/grandlodge/activities/. For example, all the files needed for the student recognition program can be found there, including program descriptions, certificates and promotional items.
Also accessed at that link are other links to the Grand Lodge Community Project Contest and certificates for golf, Hoop Shoot, Soccer Shoot, Honor Our Flag and Medal of Valor/Service.
IEA Youth Activities Chairman Gregg Collins, who reviewed the Grand Lodge programs, suggested that lodges schedule a banquet at the end of school year to honor students.
Invited youth could be scholarship recipients, Girl and Boy Scouts, and winners of the Americanism essay contest, teens of the months/year.
“My goal for this year is to have at least three lodges per district participate in the Teen of the Month/Year program,” Collins said. “Participation thus far is pretty good with five lodges with current teen of the month recipients.”
Also discussed was “cross reporting” of lodge activities, in which lodge officers communicate with each other to make sure nothing is missed that can be reported.
“Make sure to work on getting every lodge to give at least an itemized report (of activities) to the district chairperson for every district meeting,” Collins advised.
The 2018 IEA Golf Tournament for men and women will be held July 20 and 21 on Springfield Lodge 158’s Lincoln Greens Golf Course on Lake Springfield.
Practice rounds are also be scheduled on July 19.
IEA Third Vice President Jeff Rodier reviewed the tournament plans at the IEA Athletic Commission meeting at the Mid-Winter meeting in January.
Information packets had also been passed out to the eight IEA district vice presidents to give to their respective lodges, Rodier said.
In his commission report, Chairman John Bailey encouraged meeting attendees to support the tournament, saying, “the members of Springfield Lodge are working hard to have a great golf tournament.”
Go to https://illinoiselks.org/2018-state-elks-golf-tournament/ for more tournament information, including local tourist attractions, lodging details and special events.
The tournament registration form must be submitted with payment no later than July 9 to Springfield Lodge.
Tournament apparel is available and must be purchased by June 30. The state sponsorship form outlines opportunities to sponsor tee boxes, holes and cart paths or submit items for the silent auction/raffle.
Also at the January commission meeting, participation in the junior golf tournament was down by two lodges. Bailey said the lodges could not get enough kids to sign up.
“Those having a tournament were asked to get their dates to the commission as soon as they can,” Bailey said.
The commission also elected officers for 2018-19. They are Dave Cassens, chairman; Bob Eckoff, vice chairman; and Jo Ellen Bauer, secretary.
The IEA Americanism Committee thinks more positive activities for children and children participation are needed.
“There is a need to promote Americanism,” IEA Americanism Chairman Bill Adams said in addressing the committee in January. “Children are being exposed to a great deal of negativity about our government and country.
“It is our job to make sure they are also seeing and hearing the positive about our great county.”
Adams said he plans to ask district Americanism chairs for ideas to involve children more in Americanism. He hopes to collect the ideas by summer for review at the IEA fall meeting.
On other meeting topics, Adams said participation in the Americanism essay contest appears to be on a decline, perhaps due to earlier contest deadlines to coincide with those of the Grand Lodge contest: postmarks of Jan. 31 to districts, Feb. 28 to the states and March 31 to Grand Lodge.
“Some lodges did not have the number of essays like they have had in the past,” Adams said. “Others did very well. I thanked everyone for being so flexible working with me this year.”
The new schedule would continue for 2018-19.
“I will be getting the information out to (lodges) much earlier (in July),” he said.
Adams also broached the idea of advertising the contest to attract more participation.
The IEA Convention Committee is getting on the same wavelength with the hotel staff to ensure that hospitality rooms are left in good condition after meetings.
IEA Convention Chair Larry Smith said officials of the Wyndham Springfield City Centre Hotel, where IEA meeting are held, “had issues” with the condition of the hospitality rooms after the IEA Fall meeting.
So on the Friday morning of the Mid-Winter meeting — and before hospitality rooms were occupied by the IEA districts — Smith said committee members and hotel officials inspected the rooms, and followed up with an inspection on Sunday after the rooms were used.
“All were in good condition,” Smith said.
Smith added that the IEA’s contract to stage IEA meetings at the Wyndham continues through 2026, but with some proposed, undisclosed changes.
The Illinois Elks Children’s Care Corporation board of directors, at its Mid-Winter meeting in January, appointed members of its nominating committee. They are: Roland Seibert, Brad Beeson, Kristi Wykes and John Baylor.
IECCC Chair Tawn Williams said the committee will report nominations of officers for 2018-19 at the next IECCC meeting.
Also in her Mid-Winter report, Williams said 2018 Physical and Occupational Therapy Scholarships applications are available on the Children’s Care website at www.illinoiselksccc.org/. Applications are due to the lodge by March 2 and to the Chatham office by March 9.
“Lodges, please look over the applications for completeness,” Williams said. “If an application is not complete, please contact the applicant to make them aware of the missing information. Incomplete applications that are sent to the CCC office will not be judged.”
This year’s judges are Mark Bump, Sharon Dirck, Tom Hummel and Brad Besson.
Williams also said in her Mid-Winter report that clinic schedules are available at www.illinoiselksccc.org/.
“To reduce the cost of newspaper advertising, we have reduced the number of newspaper ads for our clinic and are taking advantage of social media ads, such as Facebook,” she said.
IEA Hoop Shoot Chairman Jim Swisher is pointing to the return of a couple shooters to this year’s state finals as indicative of the strength of the program.
“This is very exciting that young adults are staying with our program,” Swisher said in his Mid-Winter report. “That’s all we need once you get them in the program. They have a good time and will be back.”
He added that more contestants are needed not only to compete in Hoop Shoot but to provide a source of future lodge members.
“Now that most of you have your Shoot over with, now is the time to get going on next year’s Shoot,” Swisher said. “Try to find more contestants that would like to try to be the national champion.”
The IEA Government Relations Committee is pushing lodges that have not yet filed their 2017-18 charity reports with Grand Lodge to do so by the May 1 deadline.
Lodge secretaries can go to http://www.elks.org/clms2web to submit their Survey of Local Lodge Volunteer, Youth, Charitable and Community Service Programs.
“Collecting and compiling charity reports is absolutely essential to maintain private, non-profit status,” IEA Government Relations Chair Ali Orr said in her Mid-Winter report, “so please be on time.”
She listed Lincoln, Macomb, Woodstock,Chicago Northshore, Brookfield, Elmhurst and Flora lodges as having not yet started their 2017-18 reports.
Alluding to the continuing Grand Lodge celebration of its 150th anniversary, Orr encouraged lodges to get their local officials to recognize the Elks, similar to how Springfield Lodge got Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder to declare Saturday, Jan. 27 as BPOE Day in Springfield.
“Let the Children’s Care Corporation, Drug Awareness programs and assistance with veterans around the state shine,” she urged.