HCN News & Notes

Melha Shriners Elect Michael Cote as 114th Potentate

SPRINGFIELD — The Melha Shriners, a philanthropic organization based on fun, fellowship, and Masonic principles, announced the election and installation Michael Cote as its potentate (president). He will serve as the top-ranking Shriner in Western Mass. for 2024 and Melha Shrine’s 114th potentate since being established in 1897.

After graduating from Foxborough High School in 1981, Cote began working various jobs until he found his career as a Springfield firefighter, which lasted for 31 years. Before his retirement in 2019, he served as a member of the hazardous-materials handling team, trained to be a certified water rescue swimmer, as well as being an ice and cold-water specialist, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2002.

Cote became a Freemason in 2000 and became master of Elm Belcher Lodge in 2004. He also served as a member of the advisory board for the West Springfield Assembly #79 of the International Order of Rainbow for Girls. In 2001, he joined the Melha Shriners and has since been active in several units, including the Military Band, the Melha Riders, and the Melha Highlanders, serving in leadership positions in both units.

“I was intrigued by the history of Masonry and its role in the forming of our country,” Cote said. “Once I joined, I discovered that this organization gave me the opportunity to meet and make friends with a diverse group of people. I have also discovered deep, lifelong, and meaningful friendships with so many of the gentlemen in this fraternity, both locally and across the continent. And being involved with Shriners Children’s is another reward all its own.”

This year marks 127 years of Melha Shriners’ service to the community and will be filled with public events showcasing the many clubs and units that make up the Melha Shriners.