WESTFIELD - Westfield Moose Lodge no. 118 is scheduled to re-open this week following a 90-minute reorganization meeting attended by dozens of lodge members Sunday, Sept. 9.
A new board of officers and lodge administrator were approved by attendees who also heard regional executives of the fraternal order voice allegations of financial chicanery at the Moose. However, members interviewed following the Sunday afternoon meeting all said they felt the money issues raised by Moose executives amounted to procedural sloppiness and not deliberate wrong doing.
"It started out pretty hairy," lodge member Alan Bowers said of the meeting. "Everybody's pretty happy with the way it ended."
Photo by Dave O’Connor
Residents mill around and talk to the television media outside the Westfield Moose Lodge no. 118 following a reorganization meeting on Sunday, Sept. 9 scheduled to appoint a new board of officers and lodge administrator, allowing the club to re-open.
At least two local members were asked to leave the Clinton St. building by regional Moose officials. Neither would comment after leaving.
Following the meeting, lodge member David Beers said the two members who left were forced to do so. "because they gave their opinion on things."
"There's been a lot of accusations of misappropriation of money," Beers said. "The last eight or nine years they've (the Lodge) lost a lot of money."
However, Beers and other members who commented following the meeting blamed the losses on "investments and club operations." Beers said Moose officials voiced concerns about "various investment decisions."
Among those who declined to comment was Peter Best.
"No comment, it's a private meeting," he said. "After they yank my membership, I'll comment.
Member Kevin Cole said recent developments meant the local Moose is, "moving forward but without a few of its members." Regarding the latest meeting Cole said, "It went well, I thought."
"Everybody leaves toward the positive, hopefully everything will be better from here," member Earl Flowers said. "The lodge has been losing money for years and years."
Flowers adding the new board "will be more hands on." Local Moose officers will get more training at the regional level, he said.
Janet Reid, who like other women could not attend the meeting, said she had learned Moose officials warned before the meeting that any protest would result in the lodge being locked up again.
Two Westfield Village Police officers were present inside the lodge for the entire session and a village police car was joined outside by a Chautauqua County Sheriff Department's car during part of the meeting.
The Sunday, Aug. 26 lock down of the Moose was just one event triggered by differences between local and regional organization officers.
Following an allegation by regional management that the local lodge allowed the sale of alcohol outside the building during a car cruise-in in June 2011, four local officers were forced to resign by the regional office, according to three members. Later in 2011, according to the three, the then administrator lost his position by vote of the membership.
Then this past August, the administrator appointed by the local board was removed by the Moose's New York/New Jersey Regional Manager. Allegedly, the regional manager finally shut down the Clinton St. building without providing advance notice to the local Moose governor or the interim administrator, according to sources. Signs on building doors informed members the lodge was not open and gave notice of a reorganization meeting Sunday, Sept. 9.