Representatives of Maine’s 22 Elks Lodges were in Austin, Texas from July 1 – 5 to participate in the Grand Lodge (national) Convention, vote on resolutions and by-law changes and elect national officers.
The exalted ruler or president of each lodge automatically serves as a delegate to the convention, although attendance is open to any member of the fraternal order. John Nicholson of the Millinocket Elks Lodge is president of the Maine Elks Association, and carried the Maine state flag to the stage during the gala opening ceremonies in Austin.
For the first time since 2003, a Maine Elks Lodge member will be installed as a Grand Lodge or national officer. James Ferland of Sidney, a two-time past exalted ruler of the Presque Isle Lodge, has been endorsed as Grand Esteemed Loyal Knight or second vice -president.
Ferland has served the organization in many capacities including president of the Maine Elks Association and chairman of the Grand Lodge Activities and State Associations Committee. He is a former Presque Isle chief of police and served as administrator for the Maine Medical Examiner’s office for several years until his retirement in 2011.
Three new district deputies will also be installed on the final day of the convention, representing Maine’s Coastal, Central and North Districts. The deputies oversee lodges in their geographic areas to assure their compliance with Grand Lodge statutes and assist them with management questions and duties.
Kyle Smart of the Old Town Lodge will be installed as District Deputy Maine North, Julie A. Meckley of the Skowhegan-Madison Lodge will serve as District Deputy Maine Central and Glenn McCallum of the Biddeford-Saco Lodge is the district deputy-designate for Maine Coastal.
McCallum’s brother, Amos, was Maine’s first Grand Exalted Ruler or national president of the Elks in 2003-04.
There are approximately 11,200 Elks members in Maine and 900,000 nationwide. The fraternal order donations millions of dollars each year to support community activities, youth scholarships and athletic programs and veterans’ services.
The Maine Elks Association’s major project is the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, a specialized unit based in Scarborough that serves pediatric patients. This year, the association reached the $3 million mark in total donations since 1986.
The Maine Elks also operate a mobile health screening unit that offers free tests to the public for diabetes and hypertension. The van is a fixture at many Maine parades, exhibits and fairs during the summer and fall.