by Christopher Hodapp
I spotted an interesting tidbit in the news today that demonstrates how a Masonic lodge can be of unique service to its surrounding community. The Masonic Center in Clinton, Iowa is being leased by the Clinton County Court as a venue for jury pool selection. According to the article on the Clinton Herald website, state and local COVID regulations about social distancing in government venues forced the court to find another, more spread out location for choosing jury pool members. The courthouse could not properly accommodate the required safe distances needed for gathering large groups of people in one space. So, the Brethren of the Clinton Masonic Center came to the rescue.
Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf says the county will lease the space for jury selection at a cost of $400 for each week the county needs the site. The rate includes set up on Friday, storing equipment at the site over the weekend and selecting the jury on Mondays. The actual trials will be held starting Tuesdays in the County Courthouse, as usual.
The Clinton Masonic Center is the home of the Clinton Valley of the Scottish Rite Bodies, York Rite, Western Star Lodge #100, and Emulation Lodge #255. The article doesn't say, but I suspect their 'Red Room' will be the probable location because of its size and horseshoe seating.
In similar news, David Bloomquist on Facebook reports that the Scottish Rite Valley of Lincoln, Nebraska's spacious lodge room is being used for Lincoln and Lancaster County court trials.
The point to be made from this is that the public at large really isn't aware anymore that our buildings have these large, unusually arranged spaces that work out perfectly for trial/jury/spectator uses. It's worth reaching out to your local courts to inform them. Back in the days when we had members from every walk of life, they knew. We have to spread the word now.
Back in the day, our downtown temple's auditorium in Indianapolis was used for swearing in new immigrants. We could be doing that again.
A couple of guys have groused online that $400/day sounded too cheap. It's a token amount, sure, but it's $400 more per week than the room was making when it sat empty. Plus, it gets the local Masonic hall back in front of literally hundreds of eyeballs that otherwise knew little or nothing about us. That's more important than anything these days. We will never rebuild this fraternity as long as we are invisible and a forgotten mystery to the community around us.