High school graduates from across Lassen County gather at the Elks Lodge for the 2017 Sober Graduation event.

It’s time for Lassen High School graduates to help save the Susanville Elks Lodge

It is time! Time for who? Time for the hundreds of Lassen High School graduates to step up and help an organization that has given so much over the years to Lassen High School and Lassen High School students.

Bear with me as I explain about the need to help Susanville Elks Lodge No. 1487.

The Elks Lodge Building is more than 100 years old. It has been in the possession of the Susanville Elks Lodge for 100 years. The property has been characterized as “The Gem of Main Street,” the “Jewel of Susanville,” and travelers in and out of town recognize it as a landmark, the building at the “Top of the Hill.”

However it is portrayed, there are innumerable memories associated with the building, as well as with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Organization.

The building has been maintained well over those years, but there were and are repairs that are needed, most significantly, repairs to the balcony in addition to other needs. Repairs were slated to be done, with the Board of Trustees garnering estimates from contractors. Then the pandemic hit, and they, along with many other businesses and organizations could not hold meetings or events, thus cutting off any source of revenue that would provide for those repairs, as well as monies for the monthly upkeep of the building. Although the amount of funds for scholarships that year was sparse, they were still provided. A testament to their mission to provide for veterans and youth.

The above information leads me to the thrust of this message and The American Rescue Plan Act. In short, federal funds were given to municipalities to help offset financial losses during the pandemic. Funds could be directed as the city designated. In the case of the city of Susanville, a priority list was developed from community requests and community input.

Much discussion, with very compelling requests at council meetings, was and continues to be held regarding how funds should be distributed.

Several groups have been forthright in their efforts with detailed accounts of how, if funds were received, they would be used. One of those requests was submitted by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Susanville Lodge No. 1487. That request is upon what I will focus.

The requests to the city by the Elks Lodge for a portion of the ARPA $2.5 million appeared to be moving forward in February, but at a subsequent council meeting, the priority list had changed, apparently related to other requests for ARPA funds.

This was disappointing news to spokesman and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Larry Rogers, who, along with recently installed Exalted Ruler Spencer Wagner, had given one of those compelling presentations to the city council.  It was also at that time, I spoke at the podium, directing my comments to those entities requesting funds, to also look at corporate funding, foundation funding and grant possibilities for financial help. Later, in a discussion with Mr. Rogers, I learned the Elks Lodge had investigated historic building grants, but because of the modification made to the building, it did not qualify.

That conversation, along with “taking my own advice” about private funding led me to this endeavor. Who, locally, over the years, had been the recipient of so much largess from the Susanville Elks Organization? There could be no other group with such large numbers as Lassen High School and Lassen High School students.

Think of the thousands of dollars the Elks Lodge has given over the years in scholarship monies to graduating LHS seniors. Think of the numerous Junior Proms and Senior Balls held at the Elks Lodge, where students danced for the evening in a safe, secure and memorable venue. I distinctly remember how, after the Columbine Tragedy, LHS faculty, staff and Elks Lodge members acted as security to surround the building the evening of that year’s Senior Ball, providing a safety net so the ‘kids’ could enjoy the evening.  Think of the reasons for the Elks Lodge to sponsor countless volunteer hours and funding of Senior All Night Parties where graduates and guests danced, then were escorted to the Sierra Theatre to watch a movie, then once again, escorted across town to the swimming pool for water fun, and then finally proceeded down to the fairgrounds for breakfast, arriving home as the sun was rising. Safe. Think of the many Lassen High School Class Reunions held in that building with such enjoyable memories, standing on the balcony, looking east down Main Street. Think of those graduates (and so many others besides graduates) that have held weddings and receptions at the Elks Lodge, as well as memorials for lost loved ones. Think of the Lassen High Alumni Association’s first yearly picnics, potluck affairs, that were held at the Lodge.

Since the inception of Susanville’s Magical Uptown Christmas Celebration, it provides a Hallmark Movie background with fireworks rising from the property to be seen for miles, enjoyed by residents, many of whom are LHS graduates.

The Lodge is back in business in terms of hosting and reserving a space for events. But as Larry Rogers explained, every dollar they receive from donations or events right now is designated to cover expenses, and fund scholarships.

With a heartfelt plea, here is what LHS graduates can do. We can contribute financially. Graduates (as well as others) can make such a difference in this time of overwhelming need, especially as there is no guarantee of receiving ARPA funds. The hope is this request moves through every available avenue to reach LHS graduates. Lassen News, Susanville.stuff.com, Lassen High Alumni Association and of course social media will be tapped.

My contribution will be made in memory of my father, Al Fregulia. His picture as Exalted Ruler is present at the Elks Lodge, and I am filled with emotion when I view it. His time as an Elks Club member, not only in Susanville but beyond, was a model of what membership in this organization meant, that of volunteerism through charitable acts. That model of citizenship has carried on through his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, as well as benefiting the communities in which he lived.

So, how to contribute? You can write checks. You can contribute cash. You can drop a contribution off to the office of Carol Curry, CPA who is the current Elks Lodge Treasurer. Include your e-mail address so you can be notified that your contribution has been received and recorded.

Checks may be made payable to:  Susanville Lodge BPOE No. 1487, c/o Carol Curry, 30 South Roop St., Susanville, CA  96130

Currently, the north side of the LHS Boy’s Gym has in huge letters “We Are Lassen.” Graduates will remember their own “CALL” while in school. During my time, it was “Lassen (pause) Grizzlies.”  Let us be one in helping — helping support an organization that has and will continue to support Lassen High School and Lassen High School graduates.