By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #3472 voted resoundingly to keep their club alive during a membership meeting held Monday night at the club in Imperial.
Board members of the club called the special member meeting to determine the fate of the club after exhausting financial reserves.
Trustee Mike Liewer of Imperial led the meeting that drew more than 70 members.
He was joined by President Lee Denker of Wauneta, and Vice-President Jim Sorge, Treasurer Bob Hartman and Trustee Randy Grimes, all of Imperial.
Liewer explained the members would have to decide the fate of the club. At the close of the two-hour meeting, members said unanimously they wanted to see the club go forward.
Operating in the red
Liewer explained the club has accumulated debt of approximately $15,000 and has depleted all of its reserves, which at one time totalled more than $100,000.
He said the board determined they would not allow the club to go deeper into debt, meaning the club was at a crossroads.
That’s why the member meeting was called, Liewer said. The goal was to inform the membership about the situation and let them make the decision as to how to address it.
One option would be to close the club, members were told. If that were to happen, the building and all assets would be sold under the direction of the national organization.
Any proceeds remaining following the liquidation would be kept in a fund for a period of seven years, Liewer explained. During that time, the funds would be available to re-charter and open a new club, if deemed feasible.
The other option is to move forward by keeping the club alive as well as addressing the debt and ongoing overhead expenses.
Fair booth will open this year
The fate of the Eagles’ booth at the fair also hung in the balance of the vote. A vote to dissolve would have meant no Eagles booth this year.
Several members urged the group to forge ahead and operate the booth at this year’s fair.
Member Rob Fisher of Imperial noted the fair booth is the Eagles’ best fundraiser and could provide some funds to keep things afloat while further examining options.
Liewer cautioned the membership that the fair income is only a temporary fix. Ongoing overhead expenses will chip away at that money, he said, leaving the club facing the same situation in another five months.
Other options discussed during the meeting included selling the building and moving into a smaller facility.
Longtime Trustee Gary Lee said they have been approached by members of the restaurant committee to see if the building might be available for possible lease or sale.
Those are all options under consideration by the board, Liewer said.
He said that if the club wants to survive, it means building membership and enlisting more volunteer help in the club to keep expenses down.
Liewer said the board has taken over management of the club in order to cut expenses and provide oversight on the operation.
In addition to this year’s fair booth, one activity the club will continue to offer will be Thursday hamburger night, which is open to the public. Again, Liewer said they need volunteers to make that happen.
Another suggestion offered by members encouraged setting consistent hours for the club. Liewer said the club will be open from 4-10 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
After the fair, Liewer said the board will reassess the situation and seek further input from members as to the future of the club.