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Order of Elks national office revokes Medford lodge's charter

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks yanked the charter of Medford Elks Lodge 1168 Thursday, effectively shuttering the 105-year-old landmark.

Chuck Sallander, a Brookings Elks member involved in the charter revocation process for the Medford lodge, confirmed by phone Friday that the charter had been revoked at the orders of the organization's national Grand Lodge in Chicago, but that he had been ordered not to say more.

"The legal documents I received from Chicago spell out my duties, one of which is not to discuss the revocation with the media," he said.

James McQuillan, who chairs an advisory committee for the Grand Lodge charged with making charter decisions, said he wasn't familiar with the Medford lodge's specific situation, but that the revocation itself would had to have come from an executive order.

"The order contains the reasons for the revocation of the charter," he said, adding that the exalted ruler, or president, of the Medford lodge would have a copy of the order. Attempts to reach current Exalted Ruler Daniel Corbett for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

The fate of the Medford lodge had been in question since at least 2008, as falling membership numbers and increasing maintenance costs forced the charter to consider selling its historic 30,000-square-foot building on the corner of Central Avenue and Fifth Street. The building ultimately wasn't sold, but by 2013 the Grand Lodge ordered the Medford charter to vote on merging with the Ashland Elks Lodge, a move which would have seen the Ashland charter acquire all of its assets.

The vote failed, and the future of the lodge had remained uncertain until Thursday's notice.

Sallander did say he had spoken with the leadership of the Medford lodge in recent days.

"They assured me that they would be going through the appeal process with the national office," he said. "(The Elks) are a democracy."

Until the appeals process is finished, Sallander said, the ultimate fate of the charter will remain in limbo.

Reach reporter Thomas Moriarty at tmoriarty@mailtribune.com. Follow him at @ThomasDMoriarty.