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Masons donate $325,000 to new hospital

Posted 3/01/16 (Tue)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

The Fort Union Masonic Lodge No. 128 of Watford City has given the fundraising efforts for Watford City’s new hospital and clinic facility a big shot in the arm.
During a presentation on Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Masons presented the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc., a check for $325,000 as part of their $1 million pledge for the new healthcare complex.
“Through this donation, the Fort Union Masons Lodge No. 128 is carrying out Howard Bonner’s love of and desire to support healthcare,” stated Dan Kelly, CEO for McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. “Howard Bonner, through his will, was also a strong supporter of the Shriner’s Hospitals.”
Bonner, who was a member of the Fort Union Lodge, left his estate to the Watford City lodge and to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children after his death several decades ago.
“It was such a very awesome evening,” stated Lynn Welker, CEO of WelkerPR, who is steering the healthcare system’s fundraising efforts. “I think I had a smile on my face for about two hours. It has been quite some time since I’ve had the privilege of sitting in a room with a group of people so concerned about doing the right thing to help others in the community with such a consciousness on personal character.”
Part of the Masons’ mission is supporting projects that benefit the community, which led the local lodge to make their $1 million pledge.
“The Ft. Union Masonic Lodge No. 128 has tried to support projects that benefit the community for the long term,” stated Steve Stenehjem, a member of the Fort Union Masonic Lodge. “The new hospital and associated facilities fit that profile of a project that benefits our community for a long time.  Healthcare, emergency services, and long-term care are all necessary for the long-term success of our city and county. The members felt that our contribution could help improve those services now and for future generations.”
“I have acknowledged previously the extreme appreciation I, the staff of MCHS, and the community has for the Masons’ pledge of $1 million toward the new replacement facility,” Kelly said. “They have been great friends of the MCHS.”
Healthcare officials anticipate starting construction of the new $79.1 million healthcare facility and medical complex this spring, which will take two years to complete.