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After decades of meeting in the upstairs rooms of the former general store in Milton, at the corner of State Hwy. 36 and Ferry Street, Milton’s Masonic Lodge No. 947 has sparkling new digs.
At the invitation of the Milton Lions Club, the Masons added on to the Lions clubhouse and also helped renovate the existing building, including making the restrooms handicapped accessible, said lodge Master Tom Persell.
The Lions, led by President Ray VanCleve, were established in Milton in 1949 and have 10 members. Former Sheriff Howard Long, who died last month, was their oldest member with 50 years of service, VanCleve said.
The Masons, which have 37 members, lost their meeting hall when the old general store was sold recently. Persell said, too, that the meeting place had very steep stairs that were difficult to maneuver, particularly for older members.
Persell and the other officers of Lodge 947 for 2010 were inducted during a solemn Masonic ceremony Monday night in the new chamber that was open to wives. Trying to shed the cloak of being a “secret society,” the lodge also invited the Trimble Banner to attend the ceremony.
While the Masons have been around for centuries, the first Milton lodge, No. 461, was founded in 1867. That lodge is now defunct; No. 947 was founded in 1953.
Joe Johnson, who was inducted as lodge secretary, has spent the past year researching records of both lodges. He said he can document 5,685 combined years of service to the lodges by members over the past 143 years.
Johnson also wanted to catch up on some of the paperwork and awards that the lodges normally give. His research showed that anniversary pins hadn’t been awarded for many years, and on Monday night, the lodge got caught up – presenting pins and certificates to 13 members representing 460 years of service combined.
Additionally, the lodge honored 13 past masters, whose service dated back as far as 1964.
Johnson said he also has been reading lodge minutes from both the early lodge and the present, and has found them fascinating.
“I feel as though I’m right their in the lodge meetings with them,” he said.
The point of opening up the ceremony, Persell said, is to help the lodge become more “community oriented. We want the people and the public to know we are here.”
In the past, the Masonic organization “was very secretive,” Persell said. Though there remain some secrets, such as passwords and signs, that lodge members are not allowed to divulged, “now, it’s very open. It’s a family thing.”
Persell said the group plans to start hosting fund-raisers and “get back to being active in the community.”
Also inducted were Johnson, who continues to serve as secretary; David Pennybaker, treasurer; David Johnson, senior warden; Randy Stevens, junior warden; Tim Coons, senior deacon; Mike Beeles, junior deacon; Gerald Owen, senior steward; Clark Perry, junior steward; Charles McCoy, chaplain; and Ray VanCleve, tyler.
The Masons presented 25-year pins to Donald Adams, who joined in 1971; Cecil Bruce Jr., 1981; Denny Jackson, 1974; Joe Johnson, 1980; Charles McCoy, 1970; Clark Perry, 1982; the late Donald Oakley, 1983; Wiilie Ray VanCleve, 1975; and Russell Young, 1974.
A 40-year pin was awarded to Boyden Dacon, who joined the lodge in 1959. Receiving 50-year pins were Mack Gordon, who joined in 1955; James Wade, 1959; and Dr. Einar Saari, 1958.
Receiving appreciation awards were Charles Enos, Clint Sherrill, Gene Crady, Quinton Nation and Kevin Reardon, members of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky who performed the induction ceremonies for the Milton officers.
Finally, the lodge also presented awards to its past masters: Michael Beeles, 2004; Cecil Bruce Jr., 1985; Mack Gordon, 1968, 1981; Aubrey Jackson, 1964, 1977 and 2005; Denny Jackson, 2006; Joe Johnson, 1984, 1987, 1996, 2007 and 2008; Charles McCoy, 1974, 2001; Donald Oakley, 1986, 1989 and 1997; Gerald Owen, 1994, 1998-2000; David Pennybaker, 1988, 1992; Tom Persell, 2009; Gayle Persell, 1982, 2002-03; and Russell Young, 1978.
Office service awards for 2009 were presented to Persell; Owen, senior warden; Beels, junior warden; Pennybaker, treasurer; Johnson, secretary; Randy Stevens, senior deacon; Tim Coons, junior deacon; Gordon, senior steward; Perry, junior steward; Oakley, chaplain; and McCoy, tyler.