Elks commitment to community continues with work at Butler Park

Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star

After jacks and pry bars were used to lift the backboards a bit, Jace Thomas and Gerald Collogan put their backs into it and pulled the backstop free. Looking on in the background is Jay Peterson.


By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – The Hot Springs Elks Lodge #1751 was formed in 1948 with a vision of serving youth, veterans and the community, today, 142 members strong, they have not wavered from that commitment and on Sunday May 7 they began work on the replacement of the backstops of the horse shoe pits at Butler Park.

“The Elks chose to fix the horseshoe pits to make it better for the community,” explained Elk Jace Thomas of their choice, “even though the Elks use the horseshoe pits for our league which is open to the public, we aren’t the only people who use them so we want to make them better for everyone.”

“Builders 1st donated the wood,” said Gerald Collogan, an Elk for many years, “we are just doing the labor.”

Just the labor turned out to be an intensive multi-person undertaking requiring strong backs, jacks and lots of gumption.

The pits were built as an Eagle Scout project in 1992 by Steve Becker. While his mathematical prowess and design has withstood the test of time, the wood has become a victim of the elements.

The horseshoe pit area at the park consists of 8 pits with each pit’s backstop in need of replacement.

While the construction of the backstops was a relatively easy project, the difficulty became clear at the inception of the project when faced with the removal of rotting 3’ posts buried 2’ into the earth.

However, with years of horseshoe experience, Jay Peterson and Hod Brand came prepared with multiple tools as well as a jack, knowing full well the length of the posts needing to be removed and the potential difficulty in removing them.

With the work being so intensive only two pits were completed on the first work day yet the volunteer crew promises to be back each weekend until all 8 pits are fully replaced. 

According to Collogan the Elks are no strangers to Butler Park improvements.

Over the years  the Elks have donated more than $14,000 toward the playground equipment, helped in the creation of the tennis courts, replaced tennis nets and have purchased new basketball backboards with hopes they will be installed by the city this summer for use.

“We see so many (in the community) use this park,” said Collogan of the Elks interest in improving and help maintaining Butler Park.

The Elks charitable ways continue far beyond the park as they also take VA veterans to Crazy Horse monthly for breakfast, hold a Flag Day ceremony at the State Home June 14 each year, donate to many youth programs throughout the county as well as the Hot Springs Ministerial Association and the Senior Center. 

This generosity to community is what draws many to become an Elk.

“I personally am an Elk because it brought me closer to the community,” said Thomas. “I joined right when I moved to Hot Springs. It feels great to give back to the community and be a part of an organization that truly cares. My grandpa, Gene Snyder, was an Elks member for many years here in Hot Springs and I totally understand why.” 

The Elks raise funds for their community projects through bingo, food booths at local events and through Elks National Foundation grants.

For more information about the Hot Springs Elks visit their Facebook page.

Fall River County Herald Star

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