Posted 6/10/09 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
The Fraternal Order of the Masons is the oldest fraternal order of men in the world, and McKenzie County is privileged to have the Masons Grand Master of North Dakota from the Fort Union Lodge #128 in Watford City.
Alvin K. Wold was elected as the Masons Grand Master in June 2008. Out of 120 Grand Masters, Wold was the first to ever be elected out of the Watford City Masons Chapter.
“Being Grand Master, you are placed in a position of recognition and respect that you will never receive elsewhere,” says Wold. “It’s been a great honor and a tremendous year.”
As Grand Master, Wold spent more than 100 nights away from home, hosting communications for lodges throughout the state. He also worked diligently to keep programs going and get new programs like the CHiP program off the ground.
“The Masons do a lot of work for children. We work with different organizations like the Shrine,” comments Wold. “This year I’m proud to say that we laid the groundwork for a great new program in North Dakota called CHiP.”
Masonic Child Identification Programs (CHiP) are a charitable initiative by North American Masonic lodges to aid in the identification and recovery of missing children. CHiP programs are supported monetarily at the state level and are staffed by volunteers from subordinate lodges, as well as law enforcement and dental professionals.
The CHiP programs allow parents the opportunity to create a kit of identifying materials for their child, free of charge. The kit contains a fingerprint card, a physical description, a video, computer disk, or DVD of the child, a dental imprint, and a DNA sample. The purpose of the kit is to provide critical information to the public and to law enforcement in the event that a child goes missing. The program has been applauded by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“All of the information obtained through the CHiP program goes to the parents, so it is 100 percent private,” adds Wold. “The program isn’t completely up and running, but we got things rolling, so it should be available to lodges in the state within the next year.”
The Masonic Child ID Program has been referenced by state and local law enforcement agencies as their model for establishing this service. The difference between the Masonic CHiP and others is that municipal and law enforcement agencies typically place all data that is collected (including fingerprints) into a database. The Masonic Child ID Program operates with strict confidentiality, with all data on portable computers being removed from systems immediately after the DVD data has been written. If a DVD or video is lost by a parent or guardian, they can simply have another created free of charge by attending another Masonic Child ID event.
“It was a fun year because I am proud of the Masons and I have a great lodge to work with,” adds Wold. “The CHiP program was a great accomplishment this year, but not the only one.”
Another accomplishment that Wold is proud of is membership. The Masons have held positive or growing membership for the past two years.
“Seeing lodges with increasing membership, especially when there are young members joining, that is very exciting and I’m proud to be a part of that,” comments Wold. “It takes a lot of time and preparation to be the Grand Master, but I am honored to have had the opportunity.”
Wold’s time as Grand Master was over on Saturday, June 6, when Mike Bakken of Mayville was elected to serve for the next year.