Lions club celebrates 50 years of service

This article submitted by Molly Connors on 10/29/96.

The Paynesville Lions Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this Sunday, Nov. 3, at Bernieâs Barn.
The club started in 1946. Several Paynesville businessmen met in August 1946 and discussed organizing a service club. After talking with St. Cloud Lions, td to form their own club.
On Nov. 4, 1946, the Paynesville Lions Club formed and some Paynesville residents became part of the worldâs largest service organization. They were sponsored by the St. Cloud Lions.
Charter officers:
*A.P. Pogrebra, president
*Reed Noyes, vice president
* Arvid Grellong, second vice
*Bill Kankerlick, third vice
* Dr. D.A. Henshaw, sec./treas.
*Directors: William Henderson, Stan Skinnemoen, Earle LeMasurier and L.E. Thompson
*Ira Bergstrom, tail twister
*Robert Sandin, lion tamer.
Local projects
After a Boy Scout representative spoke at the Lions Nov. 25, 1946, meeting, the club decided to support the local Boy Scouts program
In 1947, the Lions Club helped the Boy Scouts purchase land and build a clubhouse at the river park.
In 1948, the club paid for the lighting at the high school athletic field. That is now the elementary school field.
The Lions purchased the land for the roadside park on Highway 55 in 1956. They had planned for the park for a year. The Lions continued to make improvements at the roadside park. In 1959, they installed a well. 1961 brought a picnic shelter to the park.
In 1986, the Lions noticed a need for public bathrooms. They raised $32,000 and built the public bathrooms next to Corner Floral.
The club pledged over $19,000 toward the new track at the high school in 1991. They combined with the Lake Henry and St. Martin Lions clubs to contribute close to $30,000 toward the track.
After the Lions pledged their time and money to the track, the school district hired an engineer. The district found the cost of a good track was over $100,000. The school began fund raising projects of their own.
According to Lindeman, the track wasnât always a popular idea with the club. One Lion was a ãgreat promoterä of the track.Through this memberâs efforts, the club committed itself and more than $20,000 toward the new track.
Other clubs sponsored
In 1967, the Paynesville Lions sponsored the Eden Valley Lions Club. In 1982, the Paynesville club helped their organization grow again when they sponsored the St. Martin Lions. In 1985, they sponsored the Lake Henry Lions Club.
In 1981, the Lioness Club was sponsored by the Lions Club. At this time, Lions Clubs were mensâ organizations. Lioness Clubs were made up of women.
Lions International decided to phase out Lioness Clubs, saying that the Lions and Lionesses could be united under the umbrella of Lions Clubs International. The Paynesville Lioness Club disbanded in 1991.
International projects
Lions Clubs International has several projects that the Paynesville club has supported over the years.
*Eye bank and childrenâs eye clinic: at the University of Minnesota. Clinic and research programs work on exotic programs, like cornea transplants like cornea transplants.
*Leader Dog: trains leader dogs for blind people. The dogs are trained in Michigan, but they are placed all over the United States.
*Diabetes awareness: A Lions project because diabetes can cause blindness. Lions donate to diabetes research. The program works with community doctors and hospitals.
*Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF): a worldwide disaster relief organization. Princeton, Minn., two years ago, LCIF gave the town $5,000. The funds, used for supplies, arrived overnight, Lindeman said.
*Sight First: a newer Lions project, only five years old. Designed to help stop treatable blindness in the far east and in India.
*Quest: in schools, including the Paynesville Area Middle School and Elementary School. Teaches youth skills they need to become good citizens.
Since the Quest program is an exercise in ãpreventionä that is designed to ãhelp give kids some skills so they wonât use alcohol and drugs,ä the results canât be measured, Elseth said. Teachers have given the program positive marks, calling it ãrelevant and teachable,ä Elseth said.
*Christmas wreath sales
*Spaghetti feed
*Chili supper.
*District basketball programs every year for the boys and girls tournaments. They sell district-wide advertising for the books. Lions also sell them at all tournament games.
*Town and Country Days hamburger stand. The majority of Paynesville residents have eaten at the stand at least once. The stand has been at every Town and Country Days celebration since 1958.
Leroy Hillbrand remembers a young carnival employee who came up to purchase a hamburger.
The young man told Hillbrand that he had eaten 12 hamburgers that day.
ãIn that case,ä Hillbrand said, ãlet me give you a thirteenth.ä

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