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Waynesboro Elks Club to close

Declining membership to blame

Declining membership to blame

July 28, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- It's been the site of weddings, class reunions, brunches and conversations over Friday night beers, but come Aug. 16, the Elks Club in Waynesboro will be no more.

BPO Elks Lodge 731 will keep its charter, but the club itself was a financial drain, Exalted Ruler David Sanders said.

"We're going to close the doors and start the process of selling our furnishings," he said.

A meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 17 to allow members to decide where to meet in the future and where to store memorabilia.

Declining membership and the increasing cost of goods contributed to the "hard decision" to close the club, Sanders said.

"We were losing up to $4,000 a month. ... Everybody's pretty well surprised we made it this long," he said.

Sanders said the deficit could be reduced or eliminated with small games of chance, but state law limits the club to paying out $5,000 per week. Enforcement in Waynesboro has increased in recent years and resulted in several fines for clubs, including the Elks.

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"The LCB (Liquor Control Board) has been a lot harder," Sanders said.

The lodge, which had 1,100 members 10 years ago, has 383 members now, Sanders said. The decrease came from deaths, higher dues, harder economic times and defections when management changed, he said.

"The Elks Club always had a reputation of a little country club," Sanders said.

Members say they are sad to see the club close, but they understand the financial reasons, Sanders said.

"A lot of them, that club was their life. They grew up in the Elks," Sanders said, saying he feels bad about the community outreach activities that will be canceled.

The club started serving lunch to the public in recent months, but Sanders said the response was lacking. Also, food sales don't bring much profit.

The lodge, in existence for 107 years, employed seven people on a part-time basis at the club, which moved to its current location in the early 1970s, Sanders said.

The building is owned by Martin Investment Group, he said.

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