Cultural versus social at Sons

POULSBO — Beneath the surface of its grand 90th birthday celebration, the Poulsbo Sons of Norway lodge was mired in an ongoing dispute about its priorities.

The disagreement appeared to have reached its peak in January when Sons President Bob Moseng and the executive committee of the Board of the Sons of Norway announced sweeping changes to keep the lodge on solid financial footing.

Among the changes were closing the Trolls Den three days each week, the elimination of three staff positions, the removal of pulltab games, and the reduction of Sons Administrator Mariann Samuelsen’s hours from 40 per week to 25.

Samuelsen resigned Tuesday night, citing “personal reasons” for her decision but did not directly point to the continuing conflict within the lodge.

Moseng could not be reached for comment on the issue Thursday.

The Herald received copies of both an unsigned letter from those opposed to the changes as well as a letter sent in response from Moseng and the lodge’s executive committee. A letter from Warren and Shirl Nadeau to Moseng was also received by the Herald.

In their letter dated Feb. 16, two days after the Sons February membership meeting, the Nadeaus wrote, “I must say we were stunned at the conduct that was displayed at the last meeting.”

The couple was disturbed that issues were raised, but not discussed or resolved to the satisfaction of those in attendance, the letter read.

“By the time the meeting was finished, it had deteriorated and we felt that a wedge had been driven deeply between the apparent factions of the group,” the Nadeaus’ letter continued. “That is never a healthy thing for an organization, especially a fraternal lodge.”

The division within the lodge may be resolved if issues including the balance of the social, business and cultural aspects of the lodge, the lodge’s budget and general conduct at meetings were discussed more throughly, the couple wrote.

“We ... are happy (to) offer our input and assistance in helping our lodge mend the differences,” the couple wrote. “I am hopeful that all issues can be peaceably and pleasantly resolved.”

In the March 7 letter from the executive committee, Moseng explained that the changes to the Trolls Den were made in an effort to reduce labor costs in the lodge.

“It is not clear that the Trolls Den has been paying its own way in the Lodge,” Moseng wrote. “A financial analysis suggests that last year the Trolls Den did not break even.”

The primary reasons for that appear to be high labor costs and a low customer base, which resulted in several days when its income was clearly exceeded by its costs, he continued.

“To reduce the loss of money, we closed the Trolls Den on some of the days it was losing money, but not on all,” he wrote.

As for the elimination of the pull tabs, Moseng wrote that having the bar manager balance their daily sales made them unprofitable.

In the letter, Moseng also took the time to address the rumor that the lodge will be closed and sold.

“This is an old scare tactic. It seems to imply that the officers of the Lodge have an insidious plot to get rid of our beautiful building,” Moseng wrote. “That is absolutely false. The truth is that the officers of this Lodge are committed to being financially responsible.”

The actions taken by the committee were done to save the Lodge and the Trolls Den from financial instability, he continued.

“If you have alternative ways of ensuring the financial health of our Lodge, please bring them to our attention,” he wrote.

In closing the letter, Moseng wrote that volunteers are the strength of the lodge and that the executive committee needs their help to bring financial responsibility to the lodge.

“We ask also that we all treat our fellow members in the Lodge with respect and remember these words: May Peace and Harmony Prevail Within Our Lodge!” Moseng wrote.

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