Jan 312013

Ten dedicated local citizens braved the bitter cold last Thursday evening to show up at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter to initiate a community program for the Wayside Grange for the upcoming season beginning in April.

The revitalization of the Wayside Grange, formerly known as the North Dexter Grange began last month when Grange Master Dave Pearson called a meeting to discuss the status of the grange and plan future activities.

A preliminary schedule of concerts has now been planned with 6 definite bands booked so far, a Talent Night, a Comedy Show, and a children’s play. In addition there will be regular monthly Grange Suppers beginning on April 13th.

The Abbott Hill Ramblers will kick off the season concerts beginning on April 27th followed by Ken and Jane Brooks on May 25th.

At each event will be a fund-raising 50/50 raffle, and a pie auction to help support the grange. Joyce Whalen volunteered to bake the pies for the auction.

Wally Warren volunteered to be on the Stage Committee along with Michelle Dyer-Fagan, Ram Das Singh, and Dawn Huntt.  Joe Kennedy is working with Dave Pearson scheduling bands for monthly concerts. Ram Das  called for a Feb. 9th 2PM meeting to work on the Comedy Night skits. Frank  Spizuoco presented a preliminary budget for the season to cover expenses. Dave Pearson will contact Dave Greenham about showing his Theater of Ideas traveling performance, “Maine At Work,” after a grange supper.

Grange officers elected include Grange Master Dave Pearson, Secretary Barbara Bekier, and Treasurer Frank Spizuoco.

The next meeting is Thursday February 7 at 6PM at the library. All are invited.

Jan 302013

GrowME logoLocal collaboration will provide classroom activities

Dover Foxcroft — While it might be difficult to think about gardening and farming in February, a group of area volunteers are doing just that as they plan this year’s GrowME program being offered to K-3 teachers and schools in the Piscataquis County area. The program is the result of collaboration between Valley Grange of Guilford, PCSWCD (Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District) and UMaine Piscataquis County Extension.

The program aims to utilize local volunteers who will work with teachers to schedule an agricultural activity in their classrooms during Maine Agriculture Week (March 18-33). Joanna Tarrazi, Executive Director of PCSWCD is particularly excited over the “hands on” aspect of the activities. “Thanks to our rural nature in Piscataquis County, we don’t have the ‘nature deficit’ that some more urban areas experience,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be offering our kids an opportunity to involve all their senses and get some hands on learning.”

Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange agrees. His favorite part is visiting second graders at PCES to make butter. “We have fun and the kids almost don’t realize they are learning–some have even asked for instructions and then made butter at home as a family activity.” Volunteers will also offer seed planting activities, apple tasting and creating animal graphs. “We also spend some time just talking with the kids—many have chickens and gardens and it’s fun to share experiences.”

Boomsma notes that the program is expanding this year to include schools in Dexter, but there should be no shortage of volunteers and resources thanks to the collaboration. “We’ve got master gardeners and farmers available through Extension Programs and PCSWCD includes partners and resources that are committed to good stewardship. Our goal is to keep this informal, local, and a true partnership between our schools, teachers, and volunteers. It’s not so much that we have a program to offer—it’s more about working together to make good use of our resources. Our volunteers will have the sort of agricultural experience and background to be especially relevant to students while providing insight into the importance of agriculture in our area.”

Those interested in volunteering are invited to a meeting on February 19th at 3 PM at PCSWCD in Dover Foxcroft where guidelines for volunteers and activity materials will be reviewed.

This year’s offer to local schools is for a GrowME volunteer to visit for about 20 minutes and work with students on a simple, grade appropriate activity. Teachers and administrators who are interested need only furnish contact information: teacher’s name-email address and grade. Interested teachers and volunteers may email grangeatboomsmaonlinedotcom  (grangeatboomsmaonlinedotcom)   or call Joanna Tarrazi at PCSWCD, 564-2321. Additional information is also available at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com.

Jan 292013
Ridge View Third Grader gets into her dictionary. (Photo by Walter Boomsma)

Ridge View Third Grader gets into her dictionary. (Photo by Walter Boomsma)

Dexter–Third graders at Ridge View Community School learned how much fun it can be to get into a dictionary as a result of four classroom visits by a “Words for Thirds” team from Garland Grange consisting of William Bemis, Ernest Rollins, and Becca Myers. The local Grange provides a personal dictionary to every third grade student in the Dexter District in conjunction with the Dictionary Project—a global program designed to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary.Students received not only a dictionary, but as Granger Ernest Rollins pointed out, “you are also getting all the words in it. You can make them yours by learning them.” Rollins led students through a basic understanding of how to use the dictionary by encouraging them to find and read definitions of words associated with the Grange. Students quickly discovered the books not only include words and definitions but a back section that’s similar to a mini-encyclopedia. Favorite sections included a list of sign language symbols and what’s believed to be the longest word containing over 1900 letters. Rollins joked they might find the word on their next spelling test.

Third grader Jennifer Young noted that she was pleased to have her own dictionary because “I can use it when I write… and I write songs. I’ll use it everywhere I go!” Other students promised to keep their dictionary and use it for a long time, possibly even passing it down to their future children.

Garland Master Bill Bemis helps a third grader. (Photo by Walter Boomsma)

Garland Master Bill Bemis helps a third grader. (Photo by Walter Boomsma)

Garland Grange “master” (president) William Bemis explained some of the Grange’s history, noting that while “in the past the Grange was all about helping farmers” over the years the organization has changed its focus to “helping communities by doing projects and providing help.” One student interrupted him several times to offer that she knew about Garland Grange because “they have really good suppers!” Bemis pointed out this is just one way the local Grange raises funds to purchase dictionaries and provide other support to kids and communities. “We try to help when we see a need or opportunity,” he said.Grange member Becca Myers volunteers at the school and notes that it’s fun to see the kids really take ownership of their dictionaries and use them regularly. She also notes that parents of homeschooled third graders may also participate and should contact the school or the Grange to receive a copy.

Information about the Dictionary Project is available online at www.dictionaryproject.org. For information about Garland (and their great suppers) call William Bemis at 924-3537 or Ernest Rollins at 717-7057.

Jan 292013

Highland Jan 2013Highland Lake Grange #87 in Westbrook hosted a Project Linus workday on Sunday, January 27th. State Overseer Vicki Huff and State Pomona Debra Ivers show off the blankets completed during the afternoon.  Another Project Linus day is planned for late spring at Highland Lake.

Jan 282013
GM 2013 LogoNational Grange posted this message on Facebook today:
Grange Month materials have left the National Grange building. The SECRETARY of your Grange should receive your envelope no later than Feb. 19 (packets are sent 3rd class mail, meaning they can “rest” in postal facilities for up to three days before moving to their next destination). If your Grange has not updated your roster with your State Grange, or if your State Grange has not notified us of changes, you may not receive a packet. If you do not receive a packet by Feb. 19, please contact your STATE GRANGE first.
Jan 262013

Bangor Savings Bank has once again announced their “Community Matters More” grant-making initiative. This annual program allows the community to assist by deciding how to best distribute $100,000 and always generates a great deal of interest and activity! Following are some additional details regarding the program based on a recent press release.

The 2013 Community Matters More voting begins January 28th and runs for six weeks, ending March 11th. Winners will be announced in early April.

Again this year, a total of 68 grants will be awarded to the organizations listed on the ballot and to the top 20 write-in recipients. The organizations in each of the eight regions (including write-ins) that get the most votes will receive $5,000 each. The remaining 60 organizations will each receive $1,000.

To vote for your favorite nonprofits, visit Community Matters More or stop by any of our 56 branches statewide.

A complete list of voting guidelines and eligibility requirements for write-in nominations are available at www.bangor.com/cmm.

We are proud that Community Matters More is now in its seventh year. The success of this annual initiative is made possible because of the commitment Mainers have to their communities and the important role nonprofits play in our state.

As Maine’s largest independent bank, Bangor Savings Bank is committed to being a strong community partner and a good neighbor throughout Maine. We need your help to make Community Matters More a success in 2013.

Webmaster’s note: Please review the voting guidelines and eligibility requirements for write-in nominations and note the requirement that any write-in candidates must be registered as a 501(3)(c). In the past I’ve received numerous last-minute requests to post support for individual Granges and/or specific causes with write-in votes. While we are more than happy to make this information about the program available, such requests cannot be granted as a matter of policy. Thanks for understanding!

Jan 242013

Many thanks to Overseer Vicky Huff for passing this press release from the Secretary of State along… Don’t fall for it!

The Secretary of State’s office has received calls regarding the legitimacy of solicitations that are being mailed to numerous Maine corporations from a company named Corporate Records Service.  These solicitations urge corporations to file information and send payment in the amount of $125.00 by a certain date in order to complete corporate meeting minutes on behalf of the corporation.

These solicitations also include statute citations regarding corporate records and annual meetings.  At first glance, this solicitation may look official; however, some of the information being requested is not required to be filed with the Secretary of State.  Maine corporations are not required to file corporate minutes with the Secretary of State’s office. We want to alert all entities of this deceptive solicitation to prevent entities from feeling compelled to complete the form and send payment to a mailing center post office box address by the deadline on the form.

Annual Reports are required to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office on or before June 1st of each year. Secretary Dunlap encourages all entities on record with the Secretary of State’s office to review “Filing Requirement Reminders” available on the web at http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/corp/helpful.html.

Additionally, please keep in mind that any official notice received from the Secretary of State’s office will contain the Maine state seal, the Secretary of State’s name, and contact information for the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions.

Please contact the Division of Corporations at 207-624-7752 should you have any questions or concerns regarding these solicitations.

Jan 232013

Franklin County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Franklin County Farm Bureau are co-sponsoring an informational meeting on the spotted wing Drosophila presented by David Handley, Vegetable & Small Fruit Specialist, University of Maine Cooperative Extension – Highmoor Farm and James Dill, Pest Management. This meeting will be on Feb. 13th at 6 p.m. in the Farmington Town office’s down stairs conference room.

The Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) is a new pest which is a concern for raspberries blueberries and day neutral strawberries, as well as many other soft fruits.  This insect is a small fruit fly, similar to the type that fly around the over ripe bananas in your kitchen. However, this species lays its eggs in fruit before it ripens, resulting in fruit that is contaminated with small white larvae just as it is ready to pick.  As a result, the fruit quickly rots and has no shelf life.  This insect recently came into the U.S. from northern Asia, and caused problems with many berry crops up the east coast in 2011.  It can complete a generation in under two weeks, with each adult female laying hundreds of eggs.  Therefore, millions of flies can be present soon after the introduction of just a few into a field.  This makes them very difficult to control, and frequently repeated insecticide sprays (3 to 5 times per week) may be needed to prevent infestations once the insect is present in a field.  It is likely that spotted winged drosophila can successfully over winter here, although it may not build up to damaging levels until summer.

In the fall of 2011, spotted wing drosophila flies were captured for the first time in Maine.   Based on crop damage experienced by southern growers in 2010 and 2011, we knew that this insect posed a serious threat to most of the berry crops we grow here. As part of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Program, drosophila traps were set up in berry fields around the southern, central and coastal regions of the state.  The first spotted wing drosophila were caught in Limington on July 13. By August 13, flies had been captured at all of the monitoring locations. During the same week, traps in wild blueberry fields in Hancock and Washington counties were also catching the flies.

Growers and gardeners need to learn about this pest and develop strategies to manage it in their crops, as it appears that it will be a problem in Maine for the foreseeable future.

Webmaster’s note: While this particular workshop is being held in Franklin County, I’ve posted this as general information since this clearly is a state-wide agricultural issue. Contact your County Extension Office for more information!

Jan 202013

NE Leaders Conf ELNearly 150 Grange Leaders from New England and New York gathered in Portland Maine for the Northeast Grange Leaders Conference… a weekend of learning and inspiration–not to mention good food and fellowship! While this “reporter” was only present for a small portion of the conference, it was clear that those attending were having fun, learning, and would return home with new ideas and skills. The conference opened on Friday evening and closed after a devotional program lead by Maine State Chaplain Clyde Berry on Sunday. On Saturday alone, there were informative presentations regarding some of the benefits members receive, thoughts on leadership and media relations, ideas for renewing interest in membership, and more! As is often the case with conferences such as this, many questions were presented and answered.

National President/Master Ed Lutrell challenged many members with a number of “myths” about the Grange… perhaps a precursor to a Grange Trivia Program or contest!? National Membership Director Michael Marvin used a number of “optical illusions” to challenge conference attendees to think about what they see… there was plenty of good-natured heckling and spirited discussion throughout!

Attendees learned many techniques and ideas to move the Grange forward.

Attendees learned many techniques and ideas to move the Grange forward.


Jan 202013

Membership ThumbSubmitted by Rick Grotton, Membership Director

The State Membership Committee welcomes Jonathan Dunton as a member of the committee. Johnathan is a member of Chesterville Grange and formally,  New Norland.  His interests are to increase membership in his area. Welcome Johnathan!

The Membership Conference held on January 13 at State Headquarters was a great success! Michael Martin, National Membership Director,  provided a three-hour workshop on different ways to attract new members. He provided the thirteen attendees a packet of information including a new grange building kit. The attendees had hands on training using techniques to attract new members.  We worked as groups writing a 90 second approach on how to attract new members.  Some teamwork efforts included gathering information from the prospective member concerning their interests in relation to the grange, simply asking them and giving them a quick rundown relating to the grange as Family , Friends and Community. It was a very informative meeting on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The time went fast and the interest in the presentation was high.  His techniques will be passed on the others as we visit Granges.  For those who did not know, Maine is one of the top seven grange states in the nation.

After listening to all the positive talk about how well Granges across the country are doing, it seems that Maine Granges need to unite and work as a team in order to increase membership. It was stressed that attitude has a big part on increasing and maintaining membership. We do need to change with the times and more Granges need to be open to change just as each generation before us had to do to keep the organization solid. We need to change our attitudes and refer to each Granges as “ours”, not  “mine”.  If you are willing to change and make it a team effort, then success will follow, and increasing membership will take care of itself.

Now it is time do really get busy and to re-establish  “teamwork”    around the state in order to help all Granges. In order to do that we need everyone’s help. We need you to let the committee know what we can do for you. We have acquired the necessary tools in order to be successful, however we must start somewhere. To begin, we all must concentrate on the membership that we have, to bring back those who do not attend, to think positively, and most of all to work as a team!

There are many different reasons why Granges struggle, money issues are a big one, but negativity does not help either. Evaluate your Grange and observe what things need to change; Do you need to elect new leadership? Do you need help with fundraising? Do you interact with the community? Is there too much negativity in your Grange? Each Grange member, regardless of office or position, faces the same issues. Do we remember why we joined Grange? It certainly wasn’t to sit around and be negative, it was to be in an active part of a grand organization, a second family. Take the first step toward success and let us know what we can do to help

I need to hear from you! Call me at 582-5915 or email me at rictiataoldotcom  (rictiataoldotcom)  . Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to grow!