Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Pizza from the Freemasons


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Ironwood - Area first responders and health professionals were treated to lunch on Friday by the freemasons.

Members of the Ironwood Masonic Lodge No. 389 put on their Masonic aprons, a symbol of fraternal distinction, to deliver pizzas to Gogebic County Sheriff's Department, Aspirus Ironwood Hospital and Clinic, Beacon Ambulance Services and Ironwood Public Safety Department.

"This is the first time we've done it," said Jeff Nielsen, the senior officer, or worshipful master of the Ironwood Masonic Lodge. "We're just doing it to help out the community, and to thank the workers and the people that are doing everything."

Nielsen said they got the pizzas at a discount and otherwise the pizzas were funded by the freemasons and donations from businesses. "This did not happen just by ourselves; it was a community event," he said.

While Caitlyn Aston, the pizza delivery driver, met the freemasons at the sheriff's office, she then delivered to the Aspirus emergency room and clinic entrance herself to limit the number of people on the hospital campus.

Nielsen went on to deliver the rest of the pizzas with two other freemasons, David Porter, an initiated master mason, and Branden Nielsen, the youngest fourth generation mason in the Upper Peninsula at age 22. There were 13 pizzas in total with four 24 inch pizzas going to Aspirus and the remaining 18 inch pizzas going to law enforcement and ambulance staff.

Lucas Buknell, a deputy with the Gogebic County Sheriff's Office, came outside to receive the pizzas with fellow deputy Aaron White, who divides his time as the animal control officer and a patrol officer.

Sgt. Matt Sterbenz of Ironwood Public Safety came into the lobby to receive the pizzas. He said the department was scattered about at the time but that the lunch would be appreciated.

"I'm smiling," Sterbenz said behind his COVID-19 face mask.

Tyler Saari, an emergency medical technician at Beacon Ambulance Service, said the responders were pleased with all the support they've received recently. People and businesses are dropping off food, but also face masks and ear bands to help to keep the masks comfortably in place.

"It's nice to be recognized," said Jodi Kennedy, a paramedic with Beacon. 

The western U.P. has been fortunate so far in the pandemic, she said. There is a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases than is being experienced elsewhere.

"Everybody is pretty much following the orders," Kennedy said. "They are wearing the masks and staying at home."

This first pizza recognition was the first public freemason activity since they held their first youth snowman building contest at Depot Park in early March.

Benevolent organizations were already struggling with membership before the pandemic, Nielsen said. Public events like this are a good way to let people see the good the lodge is doing in town.

"Maybe they'll want to join," Nielsen said. "Give me a call at any time."

Contact Nielsen at 906-285-1672 or email [email protected].

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