THE ELKS Lodge to sell headquarters, find a smaller place

There's still enough membership for the lodge to keep its own identity.
WARREN -- Elks Lodge 295 has its headquarters at 3581 Youngstown Road for sale and is looking for a new home in the city.
"We're not closing -- that's not an option," said Daniel A. Wanecek, one of the lodge's trustees.
The building was opened in 1963.
"The lodge is just too large for us," he explained. "Nationwide, the VFWs, Eagles -- every organization you can think of, Elks included -- have been having problems with membership dropping."
A spokeswoman for Coldwell Banker First Place Real Estate said the asking price for the 12,000-square-foot building is $995,000. This includes the Olympic-size pool and pavilion.
The property has one sizeable hall, a restaurant area, a small banquet area and a bar. It's on a 7-acre lot and has 300 parking spaces.
An Elks committee is working on options for a new location -- options that could depend upon whether a new owner is willing to lease back a portion of the facility to the lodge.
The lodge continues to have a strong pool membership and a competitive swim team and would like to keep using the pool, Wanecek said.
Noble order
The lodge's principal purpose is fund-raising for charity, annually donating to causes such as cerebral palsy. "We're second only to the government as far as giving out scholarships for college," Wanecek said. The lodge also is used by Boy Scouts.
The lodge is part of District 6920, Benevolent & amp; Protective Order of Elks, which includes lodges in Youngstown, Canton, Salem, Massillon, Alliance, Barberton, Ravenna, Kent, Cuyahoga Falls and North Canton.
Over the last few decades Lodge 295's membership slowly dropped from nearly 1,400 to about 400.
There is still enough membership in Warren for the lodge to keep its own identity, Wanecek noted. "We're hoping to find something that will suit us, and we can grow from there."
License to serve
The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control shows that the lodge now has active liquor permits: Beer and any intoxicating liquor to members only, for on-premises consumption only until 1 a.m.; and sale of intoxicating liquor on Sunday between the hours 1 p.m. and midnight.
Membership was already declining at the time of a 1998 gambling raid and subsequent temporary loss of liquor license, Wanecek explained. The membership is growing older, and younger people seem to be "too busy."
Gambling-related items -- including video gambling machines, tip tickets, punch boards and accounting records showing gambling profits -- were seized from the lodge in that raid. Nine people faced various charges and received sentences based on their role in gambling activities.
Now that the liquor license is again active, and the lodge is looking for more affordable space, "There's a fairly good outlook for improvement" in the future, Wanecek said.

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