Saturday, December 22, 2012

Grand Lodge Of Arkansas On The Warpath Again

Grand Lodge Of Arkansas On The Warpath Again

December 21, 2012 by   
Filed under The Bee Hive
The Grand Lodge of the State of Arkansas
The seemingly prejudicial Grand Lodge of Arkansas is at it again.
Once again a Grand Lodge, this time the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, has taken steps to make Freemasonry exclusive rather than inclusive; parochial instead of universal.
In past moves around the Masonic spectrum we have seen African Americans blocked, Pagans and non Christians ejected, those employed in the liquor industry removed, women obviously barred, Democrats and Liberals prohibited access, Catholics and Jews prohibited.  Now it seems members of Shrine International are out.  Pretty soon, if you stand there and let them get away with this nonsense, you will be out.
This is the Grand Lodge that declared a generic Prince Hall produced Masonic  license plate clandestine. This is the Grand Lodge that prohibited its members from E-Mailing or communicating with one another electronically with one another. This is the Grand Lodge that deliberately shut down its own website (you can see a review of the original site here).
Notice once again that if you violate the Grand Lodge you must SELF EXPEL yourself.
If you choose not to then they will expel you WITHOUT A MASONIC TRIAL . That’s the same choice they offered Derek Gordon.
Do northern Grand Lodges not see the light after Florida?  And now this?  What will it take to create some kind of mutuality of purpose and means?
These rouge Grand Lodges are practicing a kind of bogus Freemasonry AND MAINSTREAM MASONRY NEEDS TO PULL RECOGNITION FROM THEM!
The letter from the Arkansas reads:
The M. W. Grand Lodge of Arkansas
Free and Accepted Masons
November 1, 2012
M:.W:. Robert L. Jackson
Grand Master
700 Scott Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
To: All Master Masons of Arkansas
To: All Subordinate Lodges in Arkansas
To: All Appendant Masonic Bodies in Arkansas
To: All grand Jurisdictions
To: Shrine International
After carefully considering the facts, I have made the determination that the Imperial Shrine has essentially engaged in the creation of clandestine masons.  The reasoning is that the Imperial Shrine requires as a prerequisite to membership that the person be a Master Mason.  When this Grand Lodge, and others, has taken action to expel a man from the Fraternity, the Imperial Shrine has made provision to keep him as a member.  Essentially, they create the expelled person a Master Mason.  This very action is in conflict with the Ancient Landmarks, and the Laws of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.  As a mason creating organization, the Imperial Shrine is not a setting member, or recognized by the Conference of Grand masters of North America, and is therefore itself clandestine.
Given our long-established prohibition against clandestinely made masons, it is my decision, and I so order that no member of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas may fraternally associate or communicate with, or be a member of any club, temple, center, or subordinate body of the Imperial Shrine.  Further, according to past affirmed decisions of the Grand Lodge, to do so constitutes the penalty of immediate expulsion from our Fraternity.  I remind you that each Master Mason is charged by his Obligation to safeguard the Fraternity.
Grand Lodge of ArkansasFurther, I order all Grand Lodge Arkansas negotiations and communications cease with the Imperial Shrine until such future time as the delegates of an Imperial Session may vote to correct the actions of the Imperial Shrine and seek recognition of this Grand Lodge.  Let me make this position very clear, this is not an issue that can be negotiated to make allowances for the Imperial Shrine to continue the actions that led to this end.  Correction of this situation will require the legates of an Imperial Shrine Session to restructure their laws to align with principles of the Masonic Fraternity, particularly relating to the sovereignty of the individual Grand Lodges within their respective jurisdictions.
A copy of the Masonic agreement with the Imperial Potentate Al Madsen, Shriners International and the Grand Master of Arkansas is being sent to each Lodge Secretary in this Grand jurisdiction for your reading.  It s a document we had agreed to, but Shriners International would not allow him to sign the agreement.
Therefore, Master Masons of this Grand Jurisdiction must make a choice to either be a Master Mason or Shriner by December 15, 2012.  If you choose to be a Shriner, and you are a Master mason of only the Grand Jurisdiction of Arkansas you will be required to Self-Expel to avoid violating Masonic Law and being Expelled from the Fraternity. If you are a Master Mason who holds dual masonic Membership with another Grand jurisdiction as well as your Arkansas membership and you want to remain a shriner in another jurisdiction, then you will be required to withdraw membership from the Arkansas lodge or Lodges.  Thus no Arkansas Mason will be a member of the shrine.  This must be done to safeguard our membership from violating our Masonic Law.
Robert L. Jackson
Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas
The Shrine International made their case in a video published on December 11th, 2012, on the matter.
You can find the full report of the Shrines reaction in a report published on the Shriners Hospital website.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Freemasons For Dummies: Shrine Declared Clandestine in Arkansas

Freemasons For Dummies: Shrine Declared Clandestine in Arkansas: Robert L. Jackson, Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, has declared the Shrine clandestine and is forbidding Arkansas and affiliated Arkansas Masons from belonging to the Shrine. (Click to enlarge)

Freemasons For Dummies: GM of Florida Expels Wiccans, Gnostics and Others

Freemasons For Dummies: GM of Florida Expels Wiccans, Gnostics and OthersIn a surprising and unprecedented move, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons of the State of Florida, Jorge L. Aladro has effectively expelled from the Craft all Pagans, Wiccans, Gnostics, Agnostics and members of other non-Christian or pre-Christian religious belief systems. In his Ruling and Decision No. 3, dated November 26, 2012, the Grand Master issued an ultimatum to any member of the aforementioned groups: Resign from the Craft, or face trial and expulsion from Florida Freemasonry.
To read the Grand Master’s ruling and decision, click here.

Freemasons For Dummies: Neal Bidnick, PGM of New York, Restored to Members...

Freemasons For Dummies: Neal Bidnick, PGM of New York, Restored to Members...: James E. Sullivan, Grand Master of New York, has lifted the suspension of Past Grand Master Neal Bidnick (2006-2008) and restored to him the full rights and privileges of a Master Mason. He has found that Bidnick did not commit an act of "moral turpitude" or "scandal or degradation of the fraternity in the public eye." Further, he says that "no larceny or misappropriation of funds occurred and in fact the notice announcing those findings, sent out by the Grand Secretary's office in April 2012, was misleading and incorrect." "The Masonic misfortune of trials, suspension, and expulsion fell upon our Past Grand Master when he was also suffering under extreme personal distress with respect to a matter which involved his wife. This was a time when brothers should have come to his aid to ease the distress, rather than inflame it."

Freemasons For Dummies: PGM Stifani Suspended

Freemasons For Dummies: PGM Stifani SuspendedAccording to the Romanian Masonic Press Agency, Jean-Pierre Servel, the new Grand Master of Grande Loge Nationale Française decided on December 4, 2012, to suspend Past Grand Master François Stifani.

Stifani was suspended for unethical Masonic conduct, violation of fundamental rules, attempt against the Fundamental Principles of the Craft and attempting against the image and proper functioning of the French National Grand Lodge.
According to this decree, Stifani is forbidden to attend GLNF's Lodge meetings, the Annual Communication and Board of General Purposes. After years of internal struggle, Stifani is temporarily removed from GLNF, which may indicate that Servel wants to show to the United Grand Lodge of England that GLNF can have once again credibility.

A Meeting of Atlanta Masons

Georgia Grand Lodge Expels Masons

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Imperial Potentate's message regarding the Arkansas debacle

Office Of Alan W. Madsen
Imperial Potentate
18410 Balmore Pines Lane
Cornelius, North Carolina 28031

Oasis Shriners
Charlotte, North Carolina

An Important Message from the Imperial Potentate Regarding Our Masonic Relationships in Arkansas

November 2012

Dear Fellow Nobles,

By now most of you have heard that my predecessor in office certified to all Shriners that the Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas took action several months ago designed to suppress or proscribe the operation of the two Shrine temples in his state. The result of the action of the Grand Master has caused considerable harm to these two temples and their members.

From the moment of my becoming Imperial Potentate of Shriners International on July 5, 2012, I have labored strenuously to find a resolution to the issues that have arisen between the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and Shriners International. We promised many Grand Lodges and fraternal leaders that the Shrine would take the initiative and travel to Arkansas and meet with the Grand Lodge officers.  We gave this matter priority over all our other responsibilities and obligations.

As most of you are aware, Shriners International has been in amity with all Grand Lodges for more than 140 years. Sure, there have been occasions when there were bumps in the road and brotherly dialogue was necessary. Yet, each time the bumps surfaced, both sides were able to sit down together in a spirit of goodwill and brotherly affection and smooth them out.

Keeping this in mind, we made two trips to the Arkansas Grand Lodge, July 30-31 and September 17-18, 2012. We went with an open mind. We sought reconciliation. We expected each side to have respect for the other and to be constructive at our meetings. Unfortunately, this never happened. We were bluntly informed that, in Arkansas, Shriners International will be governed by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas; and that Shriners
International will conduct its governance and activities in accordance with the directives of the Grand Master. When we attempted to explain that the Shrine, in the conduct of Shrine matters, must be governed by its own articles of incorporation and bylaws, we were told by a Past Grand Master in attendance (please excuse the language) that I was a "smart ass." Then, we were told "Shrine and Masonry need to separate." The dialogue
never got any better.

On September 18, 2012, a Masonic Agreement was drafted and given to me. I took it with me and later discussed it with the other international officers and our counsel. After the discussion it was clear to me and the other international officers that signing the "Masonic Agreement" would violate the very sovereignty of
Shriners International. Please understand that the powers of an Imperial Potentate are not nearly as extensive and encompassing as the power of most Grand Masters.

Though we have labored through this fraternal year with heavy hearts, we have never failed to meet our brothers in in manner other than peace and amity. 

Please be assured that you and I, working together, will continue our world-wide benevolence for those in need, especially for children who cannot help themselves. All Shriners, hand in hand, will continue to operate the world's greatest philanthropy - Shriners Hospitals for Children.

We will never waver in our mission of offering a helping hand when called upon to do so.

Yours in the Faith,

Alan W. Madsen
Imperial Potentate, Shriners International

Freemasons For Dummies: Shrine Declared Clandestine in Arkansas

Freemasons For Dummies: Shrine Declared Clandestine in Arkansas: Robert L. Jackson, Grand Master of Masons in Arkansas, has declared the Shrine clandestine and is forbidding Arkansas and affiliated Arkansa...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Freemasons For Dummies: Ernest Borgnine Memorial Service

Freemasons For Dummies: Ernest Borgnine Memorial Service: "Please be aware that there will be a Masonic Memorial Service for our Brother Ernest Borgnine at the Long Beach Scottish Rite (in their Ern...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Freemasons For Dummies: Manuscript Naming Napoleon Bonaparte a Freemason

Freemasons For Dummies: Manuscript Naming Napoleon Bonaparte a Freemason: In the ongoing question as to whether Napoleon Bonaparte was a Freemason or not, Blog Maconnique is reporting on an 1805 manuscript for sa...

Freemasons For Dummies: NY PGM Bidnick Expelled

Freemasons For Dummies: NY PGM Bidnick Expelled: New York Past Grand Master Neal Bidnick has been expelled from the fraternity: ----------------------------------- Subject:  In th...

Freemasons For Dummies: Michigan Mason Expelled to Shrine's Satisfaction

Freemasons For Dummies: Michigan Mason Expelled to Shrine's Satisfaction: At the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Michigan F&AM on June 2nd, the assembled GL voted to expel Brother Craig Hatch following ...

Freemasons For Dummies: Masonic Society Semi Annual Mtg in Philadelphia 7/...

Freemasons For Dummies: Masonic Society Semi Annual Mtg in Philadelphia 7/...: The Masonic Society Semi-Annual Meeting will be held in Philadelphia July 27th and 28th, 2012. The hotel will be the DoubleTree City Cente...

The Magpie Mason: 'Don Falconer, R.I.P.'

The Magpie Mason: 'Don Falconer, R.I.P.'

After a perfect evening with The American Lodge of Research in New York City Friday night, the sad news of the passing of Bro. Don Falconer awaited me in the in-box.

Verily, I suspect he'd laugh if I joked he was done in by that "esoteric edict" from his grand master. (See post below.)

Funeral Service:

Tuesday, July 3
1:15 p.m.

Macquarie Park in the Palm Chapel (Delhi Road in North Ryde)

That's Australia.

Message from his son:

He was an extraordinarily wonderful person who did not like fuss and was very humble. Accordingly he would say 'Please no Flowers.' He deserves a good send-off, and I know that many people loved and respected him, so if you wish to join the family and his friends, we would welcome you.

Please let me know if you are attending by Sunday p.m. to enable arrangements on the day to be properly planned.

Thank you for being part of his life.

Jeff Falconer and Family

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Born disabled, Fairfield teen prepares to head to college

Isac Rangel talks about his future plans to attend the University of Oklahoma. (Rick Roach/
When he was young, Isac Rangel used to sit and watch the other kids run and play. He wanted to run with them, to jump and skip and leap. He would have loved to chase after his classmates in a friendly game of tag or simply to hop, climb and play alongside them at recess. It's just that the casts on his legs and crutches on his arms wouldn't allow it. A couple of months from now, however, Isac and his classmates will graduate from Fairfield's Rodriguez High School -- and the 17-year-old will walk right alongside them thanks to his own indomitable spirit, the love of his family and the selfless giving of a philanthropic organization with roots dating back nearly 150 years in this country.

Isac was born in 1995. He was 15 weeks premature and weighed just 3 pounds, 6 ounces. There was bleeding around his brain for the first few weeks of his life and doctors couldn't say if he'd survive. He did, though, and by the time his parents brought him home a month later, he weighed 5 pounds, 6 ounces. His   parents, however, couldn't breathe easy. At 8 months old, he still wasn't crawling or even trying to sit up. His parents knew something was wrong but the doctors couldn't pinpoint a problem. His mother, Barbara Huddleston, told The Reporter in 2000 that at the time she felt helpless. "You go home with a baby that has disabilities and what do you do? No doctors ever said what would happen next," she said.

That's when the Shriners stepped in.

Huddleston's grandfather had been a member of the Masons, the oldest, largest and most widely known fraternity in the world. Her mother suggested she contact the Shriners, the philanthropic social arm of the Masons. The Shriners operate hospitals across the country, including Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California, located in Sacramento. Within its walls, the family would find the answers they so desperately sought.

Within half an hour of his first visit to the hospital, they had a diagnosis: spastic cerebral palsy. And they were told that Isac could be helped. The Reporter has profiled Isac's struggles including his successful surgery on the tendons in his legs in 2002, which was followed by months of physical therapy -- all of it paid for by Shriners. "They never left us hanging," Huddleston said. "They are absolutely amazing. Anytime we needed anything, they were there. If we needed a ride to the hospital, it was provided."

Isac's gratitude to the organization is obvious, as well, as he proudly shows off items garnered over the years, including a signed football and photo with San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice. Today, the Fairfield teen is able to stand and walk without the aid of crutches, though some recent troubles with his legs have him under doctors orders to use the crutches more often and to have friends help him carry his backpack between classes, to ease the pressure. They don't seem to mind, as Isac can scarcely take a step on campus without someone saying hello or asking how he's doing. "It seems like when I was little, I was always a little sad," he said. "I felt different. Friends would hang out but when they wanted to go outside, I couldn't. That has changed as I've gotten older and now it's like I know a lot of people from every grade at school and my friends and I find things we can all do together. They are all just really good about making sure I'm OK."

He's a good student, too; currently in the top 9 percent of his class. And that explains his most recent triumph -- Isac has been accepted to attend the University of Oklahoma. "I applied and was accepted also at Nevada, Arizona and Montana," he said proudly. But Oklahoma is what he had his heart and mind sent on, in part because he has extended family members who live just 30 miles away from the campus and a cousin within a 10-minute drive, if needed. His planned area of study includes marine biology. In Oklahoma? Isac just smiles when he's asked that question.

"I can get the basic science done there and then come back to California for focused study," he explained. The other part of his planned studies can also be completed at Oklahoma. Isac wants to learn to design prosthetics. "I want to try to give back what I can," he explained. "I know a lot of prosthetics are not waterproof and I thought about that and I would like to maybe work on a way to make that easier so people with prosthetics could go for a swim or whatever." When he was little, he wanted to be one of those kids who would walk or swim or run. As he prepares for college, Isac is showing everyone he's ready to fly.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kansas Masonic License Plates Move One Step Closer.

From the Grand Lodge of Kansas Website:

With a vote of 110 Yeah’s – 8 Nea -and 7 Absent, the Kansas House of Representatives passed House Bill #2499 sending it to the Senate on February 17th. This vote occured before the self imposed congresional deadline for new legislation to clear its respective house and has kept it alive.

While no date has been set yet for Senate hearings within the Transportation Committee, it is still important that as many supporters of this project as possible, contact their Senator for support. The Kansas Senate only has 40 members and due to the smaller number of votes, the more support for this bill that is sent to the Senate , the more likely it is to pass.

Click the Link Below to find your Senator.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Special Order Issued by Shriners in Arkansas Battle

From Chris Hodapp's Freemasons For Dummies Website:

Michael G. Severe, Imperial Potentate of Shriners International, has issued a Special Order dated today concerning the situation in Arkansas:

Special Order No. 3
PO Box 31356
Tampa, FL 33631-3356
Series 2011-2012

January 17, 2012

To the Officers and Nobles of Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners, Fraternal Greetings: 

The matter of the edict issued by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas in his letter dated December 8, 2011 addressed to Shriners International, All Subordinate Lodges in Arkansas, All Master Masons of Arkansas, All Grand Jurisdictions and All Appendant Bodies in Arkansas, is well known by each of you. 

After careful review and consideration, and in consequence of the gravity of the effect of the aforesaid edict, I issue the following findings, conclusions and order. 

Findings And Conclusions 

Pertaining to the document titled A Response dated January 13, 2012 that I sent to the Grand Lodges of the Conference of Grand Masters for North America and to the subordinate temples of Shriners International and others. By reference thereto, I incorporate all of its provisions herein. 

Shriners International, with very few exceptions, has enjoyed a fraternal and harmonious relationship with all Grand Lodges since it came into existence in 1872. The very few exceptions that did occur were approached by Shriners International and the affected Grand Lodge with the utmost respect for each other and their charitable and fraternal missions. With an abundance of good will toward each other, every difference was resolved and we maintained the integrity of our existing relationship for the good of Freemasonry, the good of Shriners International, and for the greater good of humanity. 

The Conference of Grand Masters for North America consists of 65 or more diverse and distinctive Grand Lodges. Shriners International consists of one entity. Shriners International acknowledges that no Grand Lodge can cede its sovereignty, power and authority to another Grand Lodge. Each Grand Lodge has its own governance. When a divisive issue exists between two Grand Lodges, there is no claim of sovereignty of one over the other. Instead, with brotherhood, and an abundance of good will, the Grand Lodges resolve the divisive issue and continue operating their respective bodies independently yet in harmony and amity with each other. 

Likewise, while cherishing its Masonic background, Shriners International is an independent and distinctive fraternal organization. It cannot cede its sovereignty, power and authority to any other fraternal body - be it a Grand Lodge or otherwise. If it did, it would be governed, controlled and operated by 65 or more independent Grand Lodges - each with differing landmarks, constitutions, bylaws, rules and regulations. Shriners International would no longer exist as an independent fraternal organization as it has since 1872. 

It is abundantly evident that the action taken by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas in issuing its edict is designed to suppress or proscribe Shriners International, its members, and its two Shrine temples in the state of Arkansas. 

Shrine Law 
Articles of incorporation. 
§4.1 This nonprofit corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the state of Iowa, assuming all the powers and obligations granted to bodies corporate under such laws, is to exist perpetually, unless sooner dissolved in the manner provided by law, or as prescribed by the bylaws of this corporation. 

§5.1 The objects and purposes of this corporation, and business to be transacted by it are: 
(b) To be the irrevocable common agent, representative and supreme authority in all matters appertaining to the government of the system of the subordinate fraternal lodges or temples known in the aggregate as Shriners International, located in states around the world and, as such, shall have supreme and complete original jurisdiction and essential powers necessary to such control and government to: 
Enact and enforce bylaws and regulations for the government of itself and subordinate lodges or temples and members of the Order known in the aggregate as Shriners International, and to alter, amend and repeal the same at its pleasure. 

(10) Hear and decide all charges and complaints against any officer of Shriners International, or of any subordinate lodge or temple, and to inflict such punishment as may seem just and proper. 

(12) Exercise such power and control, and perform such acts, as may seem proper and necessary to carry out the full purpose and intent of this corporation. 

§202.4 The powers, objects and purposes of Shriners International are those set forth in the articles of incorporation, as amended from time to time. 

§207.8 Except as specifically provided by the articles of incorporation or bylaws of this corporation, or resolution of the board of directors, no temple, unit Shrine club, group or person: 
Has the authority, express or implied, to act as the agent of, to act on behalf of, or to bind Shriners International. 
(b) Can by its act or omission obligate or bind Shriners international. 


For all the foregoing reasons, and many more, and by the authority in me vested by virtue of §206.5(a)(5) and §323.8(d) of the international bylaws, I hereby CERTIFY that the Grand Lodge of Masons of Arkansas has taken action which is designed to suppress or proscribe Shriners International, its members and its two temples in the state of Arkansas (Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners).

Now, for so long as such threat of suppression or proscription continues, Shriners International, its members, and its temples in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, retain all their rights, responsibilities and authority, notwithstanding any provision of the bylaws to the contrary.

This special order shall be read by the Recorders of Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners in the presence of all of the Nobility at their next stated meetings and it shall be made a part of the permanent record and archives of the temples.

I am confident that the full import, significance and authority of this special order is self-evident and that it will be understood by the Nobles of Sahara Shriners and Scimitar Shriners, and such others as appropriate.

Michael G. Severe - Imperial Potentate

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Closed Masonic Home for Children in Alexandria to become site of high-end apartments

Sidney Gremillion, a local developer working with Atlanta developer Roger Landry, explains plans to incorporate the long-closed Masonic Home for Children in Alexandria (background) into Mason Estates, a development that will include 169 apartments. The project will involve refurbishment of the main building and construction of new buildings. Leandro Huebner/
Sidney Gremillion, a local developer working with Atlanta developer Roger Landry, explains plans to incorporate the long-closed Masonic Home for Children in Alexandria (background) into Mason Estates, a development that will include 169 apartments. The project will involve refurbishment of the main building and construction of new buildings. Leandro Huebner/

The Masonic Home history

Louisiana Masons built the home in 1925, according to home's history contained in a booklet now kept at the new Masonic Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana building that houses archives.

The language reflects the official and proper nature of the Masons. The history book is titled "A Historical Review of the Masonic Home for Children of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana Free and Accepted Masons."

Building the home came after a few years of internal debates, but in the early 1920s Louisiana Masons had made a decision.

"The majority of our Grand Lodges advocate and believe in the Home, contending that the child will receive better care and training and will be afforded a much greater opportunity to achieve success in life and that a Masonic Home does not experience the objections which arise in connection with many State and other Institutions of a similar character," states the book.

The home's first orphans -- six of them -- came from the Legion family whose patriarch was a Mason -- "Bro. Robert B. Legion of Wm. Baker Lodge No. 388, located in Mangham, Louisiana," the book states. "He and his good wife both passed to the 'Great Beyond' on March 14th, 1924, of pneumonia. They were laid to rest on the same day, leaving six fatherless and motherless children ..."

The children, ages 3 to 15, became the first of many children who lived and learned at the instructions of the Masons.

"Their father and mother must look down with grateful appreciation to the Masons of Louisiana for their tender care of their dear children," the book states.

According to Barbara Clay with the Masonic Lodge, some 776 children lived at the home through the years.

In 1987, there were 38 children, but fewer than 10 when the doors were closed in May -- the end of the school year -- of 1994, according to press accounts.

Louisiana Masons did not rely on government money in any of the home's 69 years.

After sitting empty for almost 20 years, the former Masonic Home for Children in Alexandria is scheduled to undergo a $17 million conversion starting in March to 169 high-end apartments.
The gated community to be known as Mason Estates will be completed in 2013, the developer said.
Roger Landry, an Atlanta developer originally from Lake Charles, said Mason Estates would include 25 loft apartments with high ceilings, and that the monthly rental on the units will average $850 to $900. All the units will have electric fireplaces, washers and dryers, and there will be a swimming pool for residents, he said.
The land and buildings in which orphaned children once were housed and taught is at the corner of Masonic and Horseshoe drives, near the South Traffic Circle. Plans call for demolition of the boys and girls dormitory buildings. The building that housed the infirmary will become the leasing office.
"This development will breathe new life into the Masonic corridor that we hope will spur new development activity in the area," Landry said. "By providing a solid anchor at the south end of Masonic, we hope to create a new front door for the southern entrance into Alexandria."
On Feb. 28, Landry is scheduled to officially purchase some of the property and buildings at the site. Current owners Ray and Judi Proctor of Woodworth will retain the land that fronts Masonic Drive for possible commercial development.
Landry would not disclose the price of the land and buildings, including the three-story main building that will be refurbished and turned into the 25 loft apartments. He said six more buildings would be built for the remaining apartments.
Landry applied for and received tax credits for the development, and the loan is backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A Dallas lender is loaning the money for the property purchase and construction.
"The development team is working closely with the state's division of Historic Preservation to ensure that many of the historic elements remain intact throughout the rehabilitation process," Landry said in a news release.
Landry has a track record redeveloping historic buildings into residential units, including the Mollers Building in downtown Lake Charles.
Sidney Gremillion, a local developer working with Landry and the Proctors, said subcontractors interested in bidding on work can get plans, specifications and other information on Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Mason Estates site.

Traffic concerns

The project is almost three years in the making and attracted controversy in December 2010 when nearby residents told the Alexandria City Council they had concerns about traffic coming out of Mason Estates and entering Horseshoe Drive.
Council members eventually OK'd the project with a 4-3 vote, and pledged money to construct a left-turn lane at the traffic light at Horseshoe and Masonic.
Alexandria Planning Department Director James Branch said construction of the turn lane will start in March and be completed in early summer at an estimated cost of $430,000 in city and federal funds.
When it's completed, Mason Estates residents will have one way in and out of Mason Estates, through Horseshoe Drive. During construction, the entrance from Masonic Drive will remain open.
Branch noted there also are plans to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Jackson Street Extension, Lodi Road, Horseshoe Drive and Twin Bridges Road to the west of the development. He said the project is in the planning stages.
Both road projects are meant to help the flow of traffic on the heavily traveled section of Horseshoe Drive, which residents of the upscale Landmark and Tennyson Oaks subdivisions use.
"Anything that is required on behalf of the municipality as well as (District 4) has been taken care of," said City Council President Harry B. Silver, whose District 4 includes Mason Estates. "The ball is in the court of the developers to be sure they have the wherewithal to make (Mason Estates) happen."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shriner's International Responds to the G.L. of Arkansas

As previously reported in an earlier post, The Grand Lodge of Arkansas severed ties with Shriner's International after they did not follow suit, as was the case in Michigan, in expelling a sitting Potentate in one of their Shrines after he was expelled by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. Below is the response by the Imperial Potentate, Michael Severe, that was issued on January 13, 2012. As with everything, there is two sides to each story, and in this response we now know why the sitting Potentate was expelled by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas for what was deemed as "un-Masonic Conduct". It's a shame that these leaders can't sit at the table of Brotherhood and work out these differences that seem to be, on the surface at least, much ado over nothing.

Letter from Shriners International in response to the Grand Lodge of Arkansas

To the Grand Lodges of the Conference of Grand Masters for North America and to the subordinate temples of Shriners International:
By now, you will have received a letter dated December 8, 2011 from the Grand Master of Arkansas regarding action he has taken against Floyd R. Buffington, Potentate of Scimitar Shriners, as well as Shriners International.  I ask your indulgence while I present you with the facts as I understand them.
The prerequisite for membership in Shriners International is that the petitioner must be in good standing as a Master Mason of a lodge recognized by or in amity with the Conference of Grand Masters of North America.
Bro. and Potentate Floyd R. Buffington is a Master Mason in good standing in the Grand Lodge of Iowa and was a Master Mason in good standing in the Grand Lodge of Arkansas until his membership therein was revoked by that Grand Lodge.
It appears that the incident in dispute occurred at a non-Masonic and non-Shrine event.  Floyd R. Buffington had invited some friends to join him for a Christmas party at a local country club.  A number of other groups were at the country club at the same time.  There was another party in the next room for teens and the music was intolerably loud. After being asked to reduce the volume at the teen party, the mother of one of the teens became irate and a confrontation ensued between her and some of those at the Buffington party.  This is the same lady who made her claims against Potentate Buffington.  Who said what, and who commenced the incident, between Potentate Buffington and the lady, is subject to which witness receives your credibility.  Suffice it to say, that the allegations of each party are disputed by the other party.
Brother and Noble Floyd R. Buffington was elected potentate of Scimitar Shriners for 2010.  Under §325.2(b) of the bylaws of Shriners International, a Noble may not serve as potentate of any temple for more than 2 years.  Potentate Buffington decided that he would like to serve a second term.  This did not meet with unanimous approval.  Among those disapproving was 2005 potentate of Scimitar Shriners, Carroll Elder.  Efforts by some Nobles to persuade him not to seek a second term were not heeded.  He ran, and the Nobles of the temple did elect Floyd R. Buffington to a second term – as their 2011 potentate.  He has now completed this second term.
Soon after his election as the 2011 potentate of Scimitar Shriners, 2005 potentate of Scimitar Shriners Carroll Elder sent a letter to the Grand Master and filed a complaint in Springdale Lodge 316 (the home lodge of Bro, Buffington and Bro. Elder) alleging unmasonic conduct during the above mentioned non-Shrine non-Masonic activity.  It is worth mentioning that Noble and Bro. Elder was not even in attendance at the activity.
An investigating committee at Bro. Buffington’s Arkansas Masonic lodge, consisting of Bro. Larry Holt, P.M., Bro. Gary Gambill, P.M., and Bro. Shane Howeth, P.M., looked into the complaint and brought no Masonic charges, but did note the internal conflict at Scimitar Shriners caused by the potentate seeking a second term. Further, no Masonic complaint was instituted in the Masonic lodge in Iowa of which Potentate Buffington is a member; nor any Shrine complaint instituted in Scimitar Shriners, the Shrine temple in which Potentate Buffington is a member.
A copy of the lodge investigating committee’s report is attached hereto and made a part hereof by reference (Attachment A).
Thereafter, the Grand Master appointed a Grand Lodge investigation committee, consisting of individuals of his choosing, to “look into” the allegations.  After receiving the report of this committee (which report has not been seen by Potentate Buffington), the Grand Master charged Potentate Buffington with unmasonic conduct and so informed him.  The Grand Master then suspended Potentate Buffington “from all rights of a Master Mason” in Arkansas pending the outcome of a Grand Lodge Trial Commission, that would take place at a later time.  That is, the Grand Master suspended Potentate Buffington prior to any trial.  Then, after the trial of the Grand Lodge Trial Commission, a report of the trial committee was sent to the Grand Master (but none was sent to Potentate Buffington).  The Grand Master then sent a letter dated August 31, 2011 to Potentate Buffington informing him of his immediate expulsion from Freemasonry in Arkansas.
The investigating committee of Potentate Buffington’s lodge, of which Bro. Larry Holt, P.M. was a member as mentioned before, then filed an Appeal to the Board of Appeals and Grievances of the Grand Lodge regarding the expulsion of Potentate Buffington from Masonry by the Grand Master.  A copy of that appeal is attached hereto and made a part hereof by reference (Attachment B).
I have been informed that Bro. Larry Holt, P.M. was expelled from Freemasonry by the Grand Master without a trial for filing the Appeal to the Board of Appeals and Grievances of the Grand Lodge.
Potentate Buffington, pursuant to Shrine fraternal law, asked that his Shrine membership not be terminated until he had an opportunity to be heard.  A hearing will be held before the Grievances and Appeals Committee of Shriners International regarding his Shrine membership no later than the 2012 annual session of Shriners International in July.  The final decision of his Shrine membership will then rest with the Representatives at the annual session.
I, as Imperial Potentate, held a telephone conference with the Grand Master of Masons of Arkansas on December 14, 2011.  In attendance with me were the General Counsel and General Counsel Emeritus of Shriners International.  In attendance with the Grand Master were the Deputy Grand Master, Grand Secretary (PGM), Grand Secretary Emeritus (PGM), Grand Treasurer and Grand Treasurer Emeritus (PGM).
During this telephone conference the Grand Master wanted to know what Shriners International intended to do.  In response, the representatives of Shriners International outlined the different governing laws between the Grand Lodge and Shriners International; and that the Imperial Potentate had taken an oath to govern his organization in accordance with its laws and that the Grand Master took an oath to govern his organization in accordance with its laws.  It was explained that disciplinary procedures in the Shrine are governed by §330.2 of its international bylaws which provide the guidelines for the determination of whether an accused Noble should be disciplined, the extent of such discipline if appropriate and to assure fair play and substantial justice as these concepts are understood and practiced in North America.  As a result, it often takes a little longer to resolve disciplinary issues.
After further discussions, a Grand Lodge representative stated that Shriners International must follow the Grand Lodge laws in its Shrine governance within the state of Arkansas and referred to a letter written to the Grand Lodge on January 3, 2001 by the newly elected potentates of the two shrine temples in Arkansas, although they had not yet been installed.  The original letter is in the possession of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. A copy of the letter is attached hereto and made a part hereof by reference (Attachment C). The provisions thereof were as follows:
Requested “formal recognition of the Shrine as an organization having Masonic membership as a prerequisite to its own,” and that they request “to be in amity with the Grand Jurisdiction of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas.”
The two potentates-elect go on to say that the letter is written “on behalf of the Master Masons of Arkansas who hold membership in the Shrine and is signed as such by the potentates of Scimitar and Sahara Temples” and “that in making this request, and on behalf of our membership, the officers of the Shrine acknowledge the Grand Lodge of Arkansas as the fundamental unit and foundation of the whole of Freemasonry within this Grand Jurisdiction.”  The letter further stated that the two potentates “affirm that the officers of the Shrine will hold the obligations of a Master Mason to be inviolate at all times and under all circumstances.” And they affirm that “the officers of the Shrine will allow no person to visit a tiled meeting, or be admitted into or retain membership in either of the Shrine temples of Arkansas, who is not a Master Mason in good standing of a subordinate lodge of this or another Grand Jurisdiction recognized by the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Arkansas.”
The contents of the letter by the two potentates-elect were “approved by Imperial Potentate Robert N. Turnipseed.”
I further call to your attention that the foregoing letter never asked – nor could it – that the two Shrine temples in Arkansas would be “appendant” bodies of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and would be governed by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas.  This would be in violation of the articles of incorporation and bylaws of Shriners International.
Then, later on during the year, the Grand Lodge, by its unilateral action, perhaps at a Grand Lodge annual communication, recognized the Shrine as an “appendant body,” of the Grand Lodge.  It is apparent that the Grand Lodge chose the word “appendant” very carefully and, thereafter, gave it a construction that connotes that the appendant body (Shriners International) is a subservient body to the supreme body (Grand Lodge of Arkansas).
Realizing the foregoing connotation, Scimitar Shriners, requested the Grand Lodge to withdraw its action of “appendant” recognition.  The Grand Lodge has not done so.
During the telephone conference with the Grand Lodge on December 14, 2011, when the representatives of the Grand Lodge specified that Shriners International was an “appendant body” of the Grand Lodge and must abide by the decisions of the Grand Lodge, whether or not they are in conflict with the governing laws of Shriners International, the conference call was summarily concluded by the Grand Lodge with the statement that you “will hear from us very shortly.”
During the telephone conference, Shriners International requested the Grand Lodge to withdraw its action of “appendant” recognition.  The Grand Lodge said it would not.
So, upon receipt of the December 8, 2011 letter from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, which was received on or about December 22, 2011, it was apparent that the Grand Lodge had made its irrevocable decision six days before the conference call (which was held on December 14, 2011), and all reasonable efforts by Shriners International to resolve this controversy in an amicable and brotherly manner were futile.
Prior to 1989, there had been occasional instances of fraternal controversy between Shriners International and a Grand Lodge.  I am pleased to inform you that all of them had been resolved in the highest traditions of our two great fraternal organizations – Freemasonry and Shriners International.
On July 7, 1989 (some 23 years ago), at the annual session of Shriners International, a resolution entitled Sovereignty, Rights And Responsibilities was unanimously adopted by the representatives.  I attach a copy thereof and make it a part hereof by reference (Attachment D).  The resolution provided mutual clarity and respect for our two fraternal organizations.  Any differences after that date between a Grand Lodge and Shriners International were resolved in accordance with the principles of that document.  So, it is with sorrow that I have found it necessary to report to you in this communication about the unresolved differences between the Grand Lodge of Arkansas and Shriners International.
The December 8, 2011 letter and edict from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas is self-evident.  You have read it.  To emphasize the severity of the edict, the Grand Lodge has informed Shriners in Arkansas that transporting children to and from our Shrine hospitals is a violation of the edict and that the Grand Master and will expel violators of his edict.
Before I end this Response letter to you, I would be remiss if I did not commend Bro. Floyd R. Buffington for his unselfish voluntary act.  He, knowing that I cannot, and will not, violate my oath of office as Imperial Potentate and transfer governance of Shriners International in the state of Arkansas to the Grand Master thereof, took a demit from the Shrine.  He is, therefore, no longer a member of Scimitar Shriners.  Bro. Buffington demitted with the hope that the Grand Master would then revoke his edict so that the other Shrine Masons in Arkansas would not suffer the consequences threatened by the Grand Master.  This solicitous and voluntary act by Potentate Buffington was brought to the attention of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas – to no avail.  The Grand Master has declined to revoke his edict against Shriners International in his state.
I, as Imperial potentate, must now, with utmost reluctance, respond to the actions recited in the Grand Master’s letter.  I must take appropriate action to protect and defend Shriners International and abide by my oath of office to “faithfully and to the best of my ability, discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected.”
I will now, without further delay, issue a Special Order pursuant to the governing bylaws of our fraternal organization, to protect Shriners International from suppression by the Grand Master of Arkansas.
Dated this 13th day of January, 2012.
Michael G. Severe – Imperial Potentate