LUSK – In order to join the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE or “Elks Lodge”) a man must be over 21, a U.S. citizen and believe in God. However, these three requirements aside, there are intangibles that seem to accompany those that chose to join and be active with their local lodge. Foremost is the desire to make their communities better places through service and often there is a desire to socialize with like-minded individuals.
The first Elks was established in 1868 as a social club in New York state. As the Elks have grown and expanded, they are now second only to the federal government in the amount of money in scholarships that are awarded every year through their various programs.
Jim Tangney originally joined the Elks in 1999 and has been active with the Lusk lodge since he moved here in 2005. Tangney served as the Exalted Ruler in 2008 and has once again been elected to leadership in 2021. He will serve one year as the Exalted Ruler. He will also be installed as the State Chaplain at the state meeting in May.
As Exalted Ruler, Tangney will appoint officers for the service year and oversee all programs and ceremonies of the lodge.
Tangney is focused on helping the lodge rebuild their activities calendar since the halt of almost all activities in 2020. He is looking forward to restarting the Club 50 dinners, holiday community dinners and Elks Elves.
Originally from Thermopolis, Tangney made his way to Lusk by way of the Navy where he attained the rank of E-6 Sonar Technician. He then worked as an engineer for Raytheon and Pacific Power living in Washington and Utah. He met and married Lusk native Sheila Sides in 1984 and they traveled and lived in the western area of the United States until he retired for the first time. Then they traveled full time in their RV for four and a half years. They moved to Lusk in 2005 and Jim took a job at the local hospital as their facilities director, which he retired from in 2016.
Sheila is also active with the women’s organization, the Does. She has been a member of the local drove for years and has served as the Conductor for the last 15. Sheila has been elected to the President position for this year and will serve in leadership alongside her husband. Sheila also serves in an appointment in the Does Grand Lodge.
When he talks about the Elks’ activities, Tangney’s commitment to youth and veterans is apparent. He is proud of the scholarship programs the Elks contribute to and is excited to resume the Club 50 dinners. These dinners are held four times a year and serve as the primary fund raiser for the scholarship and youth programs including the hoop shoot and the soccer shoot.
There will be one dinner held this year in May and then they will resume regular dinners in the fall of 2021.
In addition to military holiday ceremonies, the lodge also supports several veteran outreach programs and provides financial and supply support to veteran’s hospitals. They also conduct a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day ceremony and provide a free dinner on those days for the community. Tangney also plans to offer their free community Thanksgiving meal and free community Christmas meal in 2021 as well.
Other than their community meals, the Elks have multiple social events for members too. The local Lodge has a large building on Maple street with a bar and lounge that is staffed and available for members and open on weekends. The dining area is available for members to rent and is also used for members’ dinners and other events. The entire building is smoke free.
As with many fraternal organizations, dwindling membership, and a loss of active members is taking its toll on the lodge. With only 181 members currently on the books, the local lodge is always looking for other men who are interested in volunteering and serving in their community. Anyone interested in membership or more about what the Elks do are encouraged to contact Tangney at 307-334-2559.