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Bitterroot Valley Elks Lodge #1651 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) in Hamilton is having an open house on Oct. 25 after being closed since the spring snow damage and roof failure.

Their first Wednesday night dinner is Oct. 16 and the public is welcome.

Lady Elk Linda Potter, publicity committee member, said the lodge has been revamped, rebuilt and improved since the snow damage March 12.

“The trusses were damaged due to the snow load,” she said. “They found asbestos in the insulation so they abated that. It is all clean, neat and new. We painted the outside, lowered the ceilings, new interior paint and new carpets. It looks beautiful.”

The project cost $475,000, was paid by insurance and completed by Rod Turner of Turner, Remodel and Construction of Hamilton. DCI of Hamilton was the structural engineer and the ELKS worked with Steve Backman.

Bitterroot Valley Elks Lodge #1651 in Hamilton currently has 139 members.

“To become a member you have to be 21-years or older, an American citizen, believe in God and you can get an application to join at the lodge,” Linda Potter said.

The first meal since the snow event and damage last March is Wednesday, Oct. 16. The lounge opens at 3 p.m., the dinner begins at 6 p.m. and will be a full dinner and dessert — chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, salad and dessert. Dinner costs $11 for members $12 for non-members.

Potter said the having the project completed is a big relief.

“We are so glad and thrilled that it is done, it looks great,” she said. “It is all fresh and new and we are totally thrilled.”

Linda’s husband, Howard Potter, is Exalted Ruler, highest level of the local lodge.

He serves with the nation-wide drug prevention program.

The National Elks Association Drug Awareness program provides information in local schools and businesses throughout the valley.

“We have our information in 49 locations here in the valley, including one school,” Howard Potter said. “We provided brochures, coloring books and crayons. We’re in Head Start, the S.A.F.E. House and the Linda Massa Youth Home. The program is totally free. We are the only drug awareness program in existence — DARE is gone, Just Say No is gone, this is sponsored entirely by the Elks program.”

Pamphlets offer information on underage drinking, binge drinking, heroin, prescription drug misuse, vaping, bullying, marijuana, tobacco, drug-impaired driving and more.

For more information about the program contact Howard Potter at 406-550-4801.

The Bitterroot Valley Elks Lodge #1651 is coordinating the Hoop Shoot sponsored by the National Elks Foundation Saturday, Oct. 19, at Corvallis High School. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the competition begins at 10 a.m.

Anyone in the valley can participate. Boys and girls compete in separate in categories for ages 8 and 9, 10 and 11, and 12 and 13.

Elk Alan Cosper is coordinating the event.

“The kids shoot 25 basketball free throws,” he said. “They compete against each other within their age group. There are six groups.”

There are trophies for first and second winners, the winners and their parents get a free meal at the Elks Lodge. The local winners advance to the district, then state, regional and national in Chicago.

“Our local lodge pays for the winners and parents to go to the district once through that, if they win, then the state and national takes over paying the expenses,” Cosper said. “They will fly kids and parents to Chicago. It pays to be a good shot. It pays to practice.”

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) is a charitable/service program that supports many local programs like the Back Pack Program, Bitterroot Humane Association Christmas Box, Linda Massa Youth Homes, Scholarships, Americanism Essay for students, donations to Haven House and Food Partners, visitations at Christmas to valley nursing homes, donations to SAFE in the Bitterroot, soccer and a gift of dictionaries to all the third grade students in the valley.

The Bitterroot Valley Elks Lodge #1651 open house begins at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at 203 State Street in Hamilton. Their lodge is available for rental for community groups.

For more information you can call the lodge at 406-363-3031.

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