Secretary Williams honors Salida’s Elks Lodge before clerks play bingo

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams thanks the Elks Lodge in Salida for hosting the Colorado County Clerks Association summer conference for a night of bingo, and congratulates the organization on its 150th anniversary. With him are, left, Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, and right, Brandi Pugh, the exalted ruler of the Salida lodge. (SOS photo)

With snacks by their sides and daubers in their hands, the Colorado County Clerks Association was ready to play some bingo Tuesday night at the Elks Lodge in Salida.

But before the action began, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams took center stage with Brandi Pugh, the exalted ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 808. Williams thanked the Elks for hosting the clerks for an evening of bingo, and he paid tribute to the Elks, which last month celebrated its 150th anniversary.

The Secretary of State’s office oversees bingos and raffles and charities.

“I admire your organization for its commitment to helping others,” said Williams, who read a letter listing the many ways the Elks contribute to their communities.

Pugh was equally complimentary.

“It was a great night,” she said. “Wayne is an awesome guy and everyone seemed to have a ton of fun.”

Among those enjoying himself was Dwight Shellman, the secretary of state’s county support manager, who offered his own brand of play-by-play via Twitter.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is an American fraternal order founded in 1868 originally as a social club in New York City. It now is a network of nearly 2000 lodges in communities all over the country, including 55 in Colorado, according to its website.

Teller County Clerk Krystal Brown, her chief deputy, Stephanie Kees, and Fremont County’s election director Jami Goff have a little fun before the bingo game began Tuesday night at the Elks lodge in Salida. (SOS photo)

The Elks describes itself as a “a generous charitable foundation that each year gives millions in scholarships, an inspiration to youth, a friend to veterans and more.”

Among the members of Lodge 808 is Chaffee County Clerk Lori Mitchell, who hosted the county clerk’s summer conference in Salida. The conference ended Wednesday.

Pugh, 30, works at a bank by day and usually is at the lodge six nights a week. There’s bingo night, poker night, pool night, all designed to raise money for the Elks’ causes.

Willams touched on that in his letter.

“Youth programs such as college financial aid, athletics and drug awareness benefit communities throughout Colorado. BPO Elks also has my gratitude for its service to veterans and for honoring the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice through the Elks National Memorial,” he said. “In Salida and the surrounding 60-mile radius, the BPO Elks Christmas Basket program provides over $15,000 of food and other resources to those in need.

“Bingo is fun and a wonderful social activity. I am grateful that by visiting Lodge 808, the Colorado County Clerks Association, the staff from all of our offices, and our vendors are also able to support your good work.”

A good time was had by all at Elks Lodge 808.