The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 10, 2013

Joplin Elks Lodge, destroyed in 2011 tornado, to mark grand reopening

JOPLIN, Mo. — Enjoying drinks Wednesday night with his fellow Elks in their new lodge, Les Higdon was glad to be back in familiar surroundings.

“My wife and I come here a lot; this is our family,” said Higdon, a 34-year member of the Joplin Elks Lodge. “We missed it very much.”

Nearly 20 months after being leveled in the May 2011 tornado, the rebuilt Joplin Elks Lodge 501, 1802 W. 26th St., is set for a “grand reopening” ceremony Saturday. Guest speakers will be Ted Callicott, a Missouri Elks state sponsor and past grand exalted ruler, and Dennis “Skip” Bell, state president. Invitations have been sent to Elks nationwide.

“My intention is to thank lodges throughout Missouri, and actually throughout the country, for their support after the tornado,” said Charlie Sorenson, president of the Joplin lodge.

On the afternoon of May 22, 2011, about 75 people were at the lodge playing bingo, secretary Randy Bell said. By the time the tornado struck, with the lodge directly in its path, that number had dwindled to five.

Four of them were killed: Clyde Coleman, 72, of Galena, Kan., whose wife, Carolene, was the sole survivor; James “David” Kendrick, 63, of Joplin; Johnnie Ray Richey, 52, of Joplin, who was a trustee; and Shelly Marie Ramsey, 42, of Neosho, who was a bartender at the lodge.

About 100 of the lodge’s 600 members were directly affected by the tornado in terms of housing loss, Bell said.

With the destruction of their lodge, the Elks met at Carl Richard’s Fourth Street Bowl in Joplin until the fall of 2011, at which time they moved into an 1,800-square-foot garage they had built on their ravaged property. It was small — one-third of the space was taken up by restrooms — but it did the job, Bell said.

“We didn’t have much room, but it kept everybody together,” he said.

Meanwhile, members gathered their insurance proceeds, donations from other lodges and funds they had raised and broke ground for the new lodge one year ago. Corner Greer & Associates Inc., of Joplin, was the architect; R.E. Smith Construction Co., of Joplin, was the builder.

“There was really never any doubt that we would rebuild,” Sorenson said.

The new $2.7 million, 19,000-square-foot building includes a dining room, furnished with artwork from member Jack Davis; a bar and lounge; a ballroom; a game room with pool tables and card tables; a display case of Elks memorabilia; and about 40 young trees planted across the property by volunteers.

The new lodge room, which contains a 110-year-old altar that is the only surviving piece of furniture from the old lodge, doubles as a safe room that “hopefully we never, ever need again,” Bell said.

The names of the four victims are inscribed on a wooden plaque — a gift from Lodge 2251 in Tempe, Ariz. — that is on display in a large cabinet near the front doors.

Even while displaced, members continued their normal operations by supporting the Joplin School District’s Bright Futures program, Boy Scouts of America and Children’s Haven. Last month, they prepared 250 food and toy baskets for local families at Christmas.

When they moved into the new lodge on Dec. 1, there was a sense of relief, Sorenson said.

“The members were all very happy that they were able to get back into a full facility,” he said. “That puts that (the tornado) behind us now. We’ve always said we lost a building, but we didn’t lose our lodge. The lodge is the people; the spirit of the Elks is the lodge.”

The grand reopening comes 35 years after the Elks, on Saturday, Jan. 14, 1978, held an open house and dedication ceremonies for their old lodge, which had just been constructed. That lodge, a 16,000-square-foot, single-story building, cost about $300,000 and boasted many of the same features — a ballroom, a bar and lounge, game rooms, offices and “one of the finest lodge rooms in the state,” then-secretary Edward Welsh told the Globe at the time.

The Elks previously were housed, since 1904, in a three-story building at Fourth Street and Pearl Avenue.

Lodge history

THE CHARTER of the Joplin Elks Lodge dates to 1899.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Last two safe room projects up for Joplin School Board approval

    The Joplin Board of Education during its meeting tonight will consider more than $2.4 million in bid packages for safe rooms at Columbia and West Central elementary schools.

    April 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Mosaic pieces together purpose

    Today I want to tell you about a man named John — a man I never knew existed until last week. And yet he’s making a difference in my community. He is an individual served by Mosaic of Southeast Kansas, which also, I learned, is making a difference.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage Historic Preservation to re-create trolley era

    Recapturing history is difficult, but recapturing history without a building, an artifact or a singular focal point is even harder. To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Carthage Historic Preservation wants to recapture an era and an experience that have been gone from the city for almost 80 years: the era of the trolley (or tram) cars that provided public transportation.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Candidates for associate judge address GOP group

    The response was all but unanimous among four candidates seeking two Jasper County associate circuit judge positions. Asked to cite the biggest obstacle to justice in Jasper County, three of the four said the most prevalent challenge is getting the needed time on a busy court docket.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Money to area lawmakers slows down but doesn’t stop

    With the Legislature back in session, the flow of campaign cash to local candidates has slowed. But in this election year, the money did not completely stop. All members of the local delegation to the Missouri General Assembly are on the ballot this year, but only two lawmakers are facing opposition.

    April 20, 2014

  • Joplin City Council to hear baseball plan details

    Proposed redevelopment plans for Joe Becker Stadium will be discussed with the Joplin City Council in a work session at the end of its regular meeting tonight. The WLD Suarez partnership has obtained a franchise of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball that succeeds the El Paso (Texas) Diablos.

    April 20, 2014

  • 041814 EPA projects5_72.jpg Contaminated mine tailings could be used on west bypass

    About 500 acres of former mining land at Wildwood Ranch have been reclaimed by contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated mine tailings in the form of chat and waste rock have been consolidated in a surface repository that someday could be part of the roadbed for a limited-access highway that transportation planners hope to build on the west side of Joplin.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, following Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine. Do you think we should deploy these troops?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter