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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

Brooksville Elks Lodge seeks new home


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BROOKSVILLE - Every day when someone opens the doors at the Brooksville Elks Lodge, it costs $200 in overhead.

The two air-conditioning units on the top of the building need repair. Money got so tight that the lodge had to use volunteer bartenders.

In short, it is time to get out from under the expenses and find a smaller building, said the lodge's past exalted ruler and current treasurer, Paul Stark.

"We're trying to save money any way we can," he said.

Three months ago, the membership voted to put the 33-year-old building at 14494 State Road 50 - just east of the Suncoast Parkway interchange - up for sale.

But it's not that easy.

Every step of the sale must be approved by the Elks national headquarters in Chicago.

And as of today, no word has come down from headquarters.

If approval is granted, the membership must vote on any offer received, and that in turn must also go back for the national headquarters' blessing.

"It's a long process," Stark said.

Contrary to earlier comments made by a lodge official, Stark said the membership drop is not dire. Stark placed it at about 630, or some 65 fewer members than five years ago.

With the average member's age about 70, efforts are under way to attract new recruits, Stark said. But he acknowledges it is hard to compete with online social media. People used to gather at clubs and fraternal organizations to share stories or life experiences over a couple of drinks and a meal. These days it is easier to fraternize with people from the comfort of their own homes, he said.

The assessed value of the Elks building is $1.37 million, according to property appraiser records. The building itself is worth $586,516.

The owners paid $5,000 in taxes in 2012.

Richard Ferguson, past exalted ruler and past district deputy of the lodge, said members would prefer a smaller building somewhere close to the existing site because so many members come from the nearby High Point and Brookridge subdivisions.

"We'll get by until such time that we find a smaller place that the lodge will approve of," Ferguson said.

(352) 544-5290

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