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June 12. 2014 9:29PM

Claremont Moose Lodge loses charter, eyes future

CLAREMONT — About 400 members of the former Claremont Moose Lodge Family Center on Broad Street are deciding what’s next after the center was stripped of its status as a Moose Lodge.

“They took our charter,” said Howard Bowie, the administrator of the former lodge, of Moose International.

The dispute was over about $30,000 in past due liability insurance payments to Moose International, he said.

In an email Thursday, T. Michael Leuer, general counsel for Moose International, Inc. said: “I can confirm that the Moose charter for the Claremont, NH Lodge 1201 is revoked, effective May 29, 2014. The action was taken based upon the Lodge’s intentional failure to comply with the general laws, ie this organization’s rules and regulations for chartered entities.”

“Moose International makes us buy our insurance from them,” Bowie said.

Because the interest rate on the past-due payments was so high, he said, there was no way the Claremont Moose Lodge would ever be able to pay it off. He said he tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with Moose International to lower the interest rate.

Members are invited to the weekly Tuesday meeting on June 24 to vote on what to do next. Because they are no longer a Moose Lodge, female members can now vote, Bowie said.

Members will discuss whether to open a restaurant or join the Eagles Club, he said. The lodge needs to keep its revenue from renting out the hall, so a liquor license is vital, Bowie said.

He was made administrator of the Lodge in 2010. At that time, Bowie said, membership had dwindled to about 200. Many members had left, upset over what they saw as mismanaged funds. The lodge was $200,000 in debt, owing money not just to Moose International, but also to local businesses, including a local bank.

“When we went in, there was only $800 in the checkbook,” Bowie said. “As we made money I paid the local people that keep us going.”

Unfortunately because of the interest rate on what was owned to Moose International, repaying that debt was impossible, he said, noting:

“There’s no way we’re ever going to get ahead.”

Because the lodge’s liquor license was associated with the charter membership, the lodge has lost its license, he said.

Members have considered forming a new club, the Claremont Sports Club, but according to state officials, the club would have to be at least a year old before applying for a liquor license, Bowie said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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