Masons honor emergency responders

Argen Duncan

Members of the Portales Masonic Lodge thanked local emergency services personnel and recognized long-standing Masons at a dinner Monday night at the lodge.

The Masons invited Portales and Roosevelt County firefighters, emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers. The evening also included presentations about different branches and charitable projects of the Free Masons.

Portales Mason Joe Blair estimated 150 people attended.

Robert Garcia, who had the idea for the dinner, said that for several years, he had wanted to hold such an event to show appreciation for the emergency services personnel because they do so much for the community. Mason Robert Encinias said they wanted to give the personnel an evening off.

Dora Fire Chief Paul Luscombe said the dinner was a great time with great fellowship.

“It allows us to meet members in our community we may not even know are Masons,” he said.

Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill called the banquet it very nice.

“On behalf of the entire police department, we really appreciate the banquet, and we support all the good things the Masonic Lodge does for the community,” he said.

Milnesand volunteer Fire Chief and Portales Police dispatcher John Mohon and Portales Fire Chief Gary Nuckols agreed about supporting the Masons’ work.

Mohon said the county’s law enforcement agencies and fire departments work as a team, and the dinner brought them together, while Nuckols said the banquet had good food and wonderful people.

Garcia said another reason he wanted to hold the banquet was because the Masons do a lot in the community and people don’t know about it. He said the Masons stand for brotherly love, truth, help for those who need it, charity and respect of every Mason to practice the religion of his choice.

The presentations on the Masons and their activities included information about the Shriners, Scottish Rite, York Rite and Portales lodge scholarship program.

Blair said the lodge started its scholarship program with a donated endowment in 1979 and has since given out 621 scholarships worth a total of well over $190,000.

Grand Master of New Mexico Gary Deck said the state has 54 lodges with almost 5,400 members.

Also, eight Masons were recognized for long memberships ranging from 28 years to 65 years. Encinias said such awards are a tradition.