Rev. Mark Tanner, pastor of the Federated Church in Skowhegan, was honored as Citizen of the Year; Scott Crosby of Smithfield was named Officer of the Year and Darrell Gallant of Skowhegan was chosen as Elk of the Year at the annual installation of officers and awards ceremony at the Skowhegan-Madison Elks Lodge Saturday night (March 24).
More than 140 people attended the fraternal organization’s ceremonies which also recognized the winners of the student Drug Awareness Prevention program and Americanism essay contests.
Outgoing Exalted Ruler or lodge president Mike Lange of St. Albans noted that Tanner has been honored by community groups in the past, but during 2011 the pastor “worked as hard as any individual in Skowhegan to help make life better for the less fortunate in the community. This point was made very clear last Thanksgiving, when – thanks to his efforts and the work of his volunteers – 135 families had food on their tables for the holiday.”
Lange cited the food cupboard at the church for families who need emergency goods due to an unexpected crisis and Tanner’s support for every charitable, fraternal and veterans’ organizations in the community. His wife, Debra, was honored as the lodge’s Mother of the Year in 2008. “I doubt if we could fit everyone into this room who considers him as their friend,” said Lange.
Crosby is a lodge trustee, and Lange cited his efforts to help build and raise funds for the new planter and flagpole in the lodge’s front parking area. “Croz,” as he is known, is a huge asset to the organization, said Lange. “If something is broken in the lodge, he’ll either fix it or find someone who knows how to do it,” he added. “He is the first to offer a helping hand for some of the dirtiest jobs in the place, yet he does it with a sense of humor.”
Gallant is chair of the Youth Activities Committee, one of the busiest groups in the 755-member lodge, Lange noted. “He is usually around to help with every event from the Daytona 500 party in February to the Christmas party in December,” Lange said. “But his major function is planning and recruiting help for spaghetti dinners that raise thousands of dollars each year for youth programs. How anyone can emerge from a hot kitchen after five hours and still have a smile on their face is beyond me – but he does it.”
Special Grand Lodge citations were also presented to Robert Meckley and Michelle Stewart for meritorious service to the lodge.
The youth award honorees in the Drug Awareness 5th grade essay contest were Alexis Barbuto (first place), Christopher McLaughlin (second place) and Arianna Nadeau (third place).
The top three entries in the fourth grade Drug Awareness poster contest were Spencer Hunnewell, Autumn Gehrke and Kendra Sweet; and the top finishers in the third grade Drug Awareness coloring contest were Jacob Steeves, Mackenzie Johnson and Sophie Wheeler.
Two Drug Awareness contest winners were also among the top entrants in the Americanism essay contest. In Division 1, the top three were Alexis Barbuto, Arianna Nadeau and Tree Brooks. Division II honorees were Ben Eric Toribio, Jr. (first), Owen Boardman (second) and Aaron Morgan (third).
Ronald A. Voisine of Fairfield was installed as exalted ruler by Carlette Place and her suite of officers from the Waterville Elks Lodge. Voisine, a retired Lawrence High School teacher and coach, said that he “thanked God first” for being able to serve as leader of the fraternal organization. Voisine received a kidney transplant from his wife, Cathy, on Nov. 1, 2011 after a lengthy battle with diabetes and both have made a remarkable recovery. Cathy Voisine was installed as lodge chaplain for a second time.
Other lodge officers are Arthur Morse of Embden (leading knight or first vice-president); Roberta Alley of Skowhegan (loyal knight or second vice-president); Andrea Ducharme of Skowhegan (lecturing knight or third vice-president); Lange (secretary); George Lapointe of Skowhegan (treasurer); Steve Laney of Skowhegan (tiler); and Lila Ware (one-year trustee). Thomas Lyons of Skowhegan was reelected to a five-year term on the Board of Trustees, but was unable to make the ceremony due to his recuperation from an injury last month. Appointed officers, in addition to Cathy Voisine, were Robert Meckley (esquire), Raymond Noe (inner guard) and David Hovey of Skowhegan as organist for the 28th consecutive year.