Jun 302014

By Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

If you went searching, how many of those small blue books (Grange Manuals) will you find closeted in your Grange Hall? It might be an interesting exercise to round them up, count them, and while so doing see what edition and year each was published. The one I use most regularly is the thirty-fourth edition from 1964. According to the handwriting on the inside cover, it originally belonged to a Subordinate Grange that closed some years ago.

The release of a “new” Subordinate Grange Manual last year went largely unnoticed and that is unfortunate. Much effort went into this forty-sixth edition. Clearly attempts have been made to include specific instructions that are clearer and, in many cases, simpler for various tasks such as balloting for candidates, conducting the obligation ceremony, etc. Anyone who’s been at a meeting where there twelve Grangers and thirteen opinions regarding “how to” execute a certain procedure will appreciate the guidance offered in this new manual.

You’ll also find some new titles have been introduced alongside the traditional. One example is the gatekeeper/greeter. Both are included to indicate a choice more than a change, so there is no need for controversy and debate.

I’m told some of the language has been updated and simplified. I did not compare this manual with previous editions line by line, but as one who loves our heritage and tradition, I do not see a noticeable difference.  I suspect those who edited this new edition recognize there are many who have memorized parts and major changes would certainly cause confusion.

I did have the opportunity to compare the Grange Burial Service in the “new” manual with previous editions and find the new one contains much of the same language, but the order and flow is actually greatly improved. As acting Chaplain for the service, I added some of the “new” language and was interested to hear compliments later regarding the traditional service. I offer that as evidence that we are not losing or abandoning the fundamentals of our Order’s ritual and heritage.

A comparison of “closing the Grange” showed very little difference. The steps are the same except that the new manual includes the language for the Grange Salutation which must be remembered when using an older manual. Also the Overseer’s closing in the new manual omits the word “duly.” My sense from this is a combination of the new manual with older ones would not be confusing. (Most Granges currently are probably using different editions anyway.)

There is one negative with this new manual in that it is paperback and not hard bound. Perhaps because it is new, it does not open easily and stay open. This may improve with use. It is also slightly larger but remains pocket-sized and easily carried. The slightly larger size allows for a larger font size making the manual much easier to read from.

The 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual is available from the National Grange Store at a cost of $10 plus shipping. The manual includes the observation that manuals are sold to Grange “units” only and not to individuals. I’d encourage our Granges to consider purchasing at least a few copies to gain the additional information for reference and start what is surely going to be a slow transition to a slightly updated approach.

Jun 292014

Last year we received a number of compliments for our efforts to provide information regarding teams available to conduct officer installation ceremonies. So we’re going to do so again! If you are on a team or know of one, please send some basic information to the webmaster: who to contact, preferred dates and times (if any), and areas of the state the team will cover. This post will be updated as new information arrives and will remain at the top of the site until sometime in September. Also, don’t forget to send your installation dates and details for the events calendar! Send info to webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  

State Master Vicki Huff has a team, but regrets to announce the team is already booked to capacity! Let this be a lesson in the benefits of planning early!

Installation team available to install officers for the 2014-2015 Grange year. We are located in the Bangor area, however we will travel as needed. Just call Rolf Staples, Sr  (%20swederolfataoldotcom)  . at 973-3976 or e-mail by clicking name.

Jun 232014

by Stanley Howe, Historian

Obadiah Gardner, a former State Master of the Maine State Grange (1897-1907) and National Grange Overseer (1899-1903) was born in Grant, Michigan, September 13, 1850. He moved with his parents to Union, Maine in 1864 and attended local schools, followed by Eastman’s Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York and Coburn Classical Institute in Waterville.  He later was engaged in the lumber, lime and creamery business in Rockland as well as cattle raising. He was active in the Democratic Party in Maine and was a delegate to the National Party Convention held in Baltimore in 1912. He was the unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Maine in 1908 and was subsequently chairman of the  Board of state assessors, but resigned that position to assume the U.S. Senate seat from Maine to fill the vacancy caused by the death of longtime Maine Senator William Frye. He was later elected to serve out the rest of Frye’s term, but was not re-elected. He was then appointed to International Joint Commission (United States-Canada) where he served for nearly ten years as chairman. In 1923,  he returned to Rockland retiring from public and business pursuits, and moved to Augusta. He died on July 24, 1938 in that city and is buried in Achorn Cemetery, Rockland. His wife Corinna S. Gardner was State Flora from 1902 to 1907.


Jun 232014

by John Tyler, Overseer

We had a good crowd (50 guests) to witness awarding the 2014 Community Citizen award to Margaret Bixby creator of the MAGIC BUS, a vehicle distributing food and books to rural neighbors in Sedgwick, Deer Isle and Blue Hill. Read more about her background on our website community service page.


Jun 222014

Webmaster Note: Many Grangers around the state know Betty VanDyke… we can’t really introduce her as a former Granger, because in her heart she’s as much a Granger as ever, plus she continues to be a big supporter of Valley Grange in as many ways as possible. Betty recently celebrated her 9oth Birthday with a party attended by many friends and Grangers. Those couldn’t attend sent cards and messages. This is Betty’s appreciation and some thoughts about her Grange career.

A Happy Betty is flanked by her daughters Lois (left) and Ginny at her 90th birthday celebration.

I don’t think anyone will ever know how I feel about the Grange and how badly I felt the day I wrote for a demit that I knew I would never use.  Those 28 years were the best years of my life and I miss those days a lot.  The work I did being Lecturer of Valley Grange for oh so many years were growing years for me and grow I did using my brain to prepare the programs that I hoped would be satisfactory for the night.  Being on the CWA committee where my husband had to bring me to Augusta and “cart women  around” was a highlight of my belonging.  Then being asked to be Community Service Director of the Maine State Grange, how proud I was for that, receiving  a Plaque of Achievement for work well done was over the top. I tell you all this not to brag but to let you how much the Grange meant to me.

I was “from away,” you see, and people told me then that I would never be accepted.   But I tell you here and now I have been accepted and you can be too.  The friends I have made through this journey are precious to me because they don’t forget. I have seen this recently on the occasion of my 90th birthday with the cards and Facebook messages from Grangers near and far.

I do hope with all my heart that Valley Grange grows with the community as I try to help out in whatever manner I can.  If you are from away, please don’t try to change these good people, they have a lot to offer to you and you will be happier if you listen  to them. Join what ever Grange is closest to you.  Join to help them, your community and yourself.  And as the Girl Scouts sing, “Make new friends, keep the old, one is silver the other is gold.”  As a member of the Grange you can accomplish a lot.

Best of luck to all Granges everywhere.

I remain your friend,

Betty VanDyke

Jun 182014

By Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

Attitudes and actions speak as loudly as words.

There’s no real term for it but Garland Grange and Valley Grange have had a close relationship for years—even to the extent we might say we are “sister Granges”—a reflection of the fraternal nature of our Order at the community or subordinate level. We are separated by twenty miles and thirty minutes travel time but joined by friendship and common interests and purpose.

Garland Grange recently lost a key member when Jean Rollins departed this earthly life. Jean’s commitment to the Grange made the loss especially significant and, as it happened, Garland Grange had a public supper scheduled the night before the funeral. Grange gumption and grit means there was never any question the supper would go on in spite of the circumstances. Five Valley Grange members grabbed their aprons and headed to Garland to help. Some of the supper guests were a bit confused by the mixture of Grangers, but many were not. As one guest spooned up her meal she said, “You know, this is how the Grange is supposed to work. People helping people and Granges helping other Granges.” Hers was a sentiment expressed by others who knew it was a difficult time for all of us.

“Above all, remember that amid all that is bright and beautiful in Nature there is nothing which blooms with such unfading colors—there is no perfume on earth fraught with such fragrance—as the flowers of good works and the sweet smelling savor of that pity which feels for the wants and relieves the distress of our Sisters and Brothers.”

As we seek to meet the challenges of growing the Grange in a society that has become increasingly complex and marked by change, we might do well to consider how many of the answers lie within the instruction and lessons created back in 1867. We often speak of how times have changed, society is different and even our language isn’t exactly the same as it was nearly 150 years ago. But perhaps we should consider the things that haven’t changed.

Consider for a moment the life of the farmer in 1867 and imagine what it meant to complete a long day in the fields and when the day started and ended. There were no tractors, no electricity, and very little outside help. It took gumption and grit to complete the “labors of the day.” Then consider how much more gumption and grit was required to hitch up the horse and load the family into the wagon for the ride to the Grange Hall for supper and a meeting.

And imagine those meetings—the conversations during dinner, the committee reports and items of business during the meeting. In one of the records of an early Valley Grange meeting we learn of the Grange’s decision to purchase a cow for a struggling family in the community. “…the sweet smelling savor of that pity which feels for the wants and relieves the distress of our Sisters and Brothers.”

You can bet that by the time the Grange Master asked the Overseer “Are the labors of the day complete?” there were some tired minds and bodies in the chairs. It took gumption and grit to climb back into the wagon for the ride home, only to face another long day after a night that was short.

The day after Garland’s public supper, members of Valley and Garland Grange joined hands again to conduct a Grange Burial Service for our Sister Jean. And the day following that service an email arrived reporting the comments of one person who had attended. He approached a member of Valley Grange at church and “…enthusiastically went on about how wonderful the ceremony was that the Grange put on. He claimed that it was the way all funerals should be conducted. The words just blew him away… He cautioned me that the Grange should never change the service… So I guess you guys made an impression even though the session was so solemn.”

We have what it takes to grow the Grange; we just need to focus on it and offer it. “A good Granger places faith in God, nurtures hope, dispenses charity and is noted for fidelity.” Sometimes it takes a lot of gumption and grit in today’s world, but today’s world needs—in fact longs—to see and experience the faith, hope, charity and fidelity Grangers are challenged to live by.

“Let us not forget the precepts of our Order. Let us add dignity to labor, and in our dealings with our fellow men be honest, be just, and fear not… whatever we do, strive to do well.”

Jun 172014
NelsonRobert and Agnes Nelson, Agriculture Directors

We are most halfway through the month of June already this year. We got our garden planted finally last week. It must have been the right time, even though it seemed quite late, because everything is up at this time. It won’t be long and the weeding will begin! Raven’s Strawberries local pick your own said they will be picking before the end of the month about the 26th. We lost our second Peach tree to the cold during the winter. We were hoping to get our first peaches this year. We purchased a second grape-vine this spring. Hopefully it will survive.

We have been quite busy contacting the hall superintendents for the Agriculture Fairs. It is time to get Agriculture ribbons out and set up judges for the Grange exhibits as requested. We look forward to seeing the exhibits as we have done the last couple years. If you get to the fairs you want to make sure you take the time to check the exhibits out. They are all so different and so much work goes into each and every one. The members of each exhibiting Grange should be commended for all of their work. It is so time-consuming and rewarding.

The summer comes and goes so fast. August will soon be here and we will have a booth at Maine Farm Days at Misty Farms in Clinton for Maine State Grange and the Ag- Committee.

Our local Grange is quite busy this time of year. We have started having our monthly Grange suppers on the third Saturday of the month through the month of September and the fourth Saturday in October. Suppers are the way we keep our Grange going financially.

Webmaster’s note: Unfortunately, this month’s ag column arrived by snail mail after the deadline for our printed Bulletin. Please pass the information along to others!

Jun 162014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

by Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

The June 2014 Bulletin is available for downloading from the “Program Books and Information” page of the site. You don’t have to wait for the printed copy to arrive in the mail to have your own copy!

Let me also remind folks: the absolute deadline for submitting information is the fifteenth of the month. A special thanks goes to those who don’t wait until the last minute to submit! This allows me to build the bulletin as articles are received and have it ready on time.

Another reminder: I’m still soliciting information about officer installation teams so we can list them on the site. Please let me know:

  • Who to contact (phone number and email address) for information and to book the team. (It isn’t necessary to list your entire team, but you can if you want!)
  • What part of the state you can reasonably cover… either by Pomona, County or general geography.
  • Any scheduling limitations in terms of days of the week, etc.

A sample listing might look like this:

We’re the A-Team and we’re based in southern Maine, but we’re willing to travel anywhere in the state to assist with your officer installations. For additional information, please contact Head Installer at 555-5555 or by sending an email to…

Jun 162014

The following post is condensed from a National Grange Action Alert. For more information including suggestions for making comments, visit the National Grange website.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have officially published their proposed regulation to redefine and expand the scope of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act. This proposal changes the term “navigable waters” to essentially mean all “Waters of the United States.” The general public has been given an extension on the initial 90-day comment period and may now make comments until Oct. 20, 2014 to provide the agencies feedback, questions and concerns about the proposal.

The effect of the joint agencies’ proposal is to expand jurisdiction and assert new regulatory authority over non-navigable waters, seasonal flows, wetlands, seeps, intermittent streams and wetlands, isolated ponds, isolated marshes, pot holes, playa lakes, flood plains and additional “waters” with no direct connection to navigable waterways. These waters previous have not been regulated under the Clean Water Act. Farmers, land developers and governors worried about drought management are accusing the federal government of a new round of regulatory overreach. Intense debate has developed around land use, economic impact, states’ rights and the abuse of presidential power.

Further complicating agriculture’s concern with EPA’s proposal is an accompanying “interpretative rule” which claims to clarify exemptions for “normal farming and ranching” practices under the proposed regulation. After deeper analysis of the interpretative rule, agriculture is even more concerned with what may or may not be subject to the proposed regulation. Many of the list of 56 exempted practices are extremely common (fencing, grazing, brush management for example) and have never been considered outside the statutory exemption. The fear is that once defined in statute, these practices could become regulated under the Clean Water Act in the future. To qualify for future exemptions, practices must comply with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical standards; farmers who employ good practices without the need for NRCS compliance may not benefit from future exemptions. The proposal narrows the definition of normal farming operation to mean ongoing farming activity since the 1970’s; newer farms, those that have ceased operation for a while then resumed, and farms that switched from one crop to another may find themselves disqualified for future exemptions.

“The Grange recognizes the importance of and protection of all watersheds … The National Grange opposes any mandate that suggests all watersheds are to meet the same water quality standards.” (National Grange Conservation Committee Policy Statement, Legislative Policy and Priorities Booklet, 2013 Edition)

Farmers, ranchers and landowners have the opportunity to infuse some common sense into the government’s proposed redefinition and expansion of the definition of “navigable waters” to include all “Waters of the United States.” Be sure to file your comments before October 20 and encourage your friends, neighbors and fellow landowners to submit comments as well.


Jun 132014
By Walter Boomsma,Walter Boomsma
Communications Director

A friend likes to occasionally send me “funnies” via email. One this morning pictured a senior looking couple sitting together on the porch in the evening. The man has his arm around the woman and says, “In the moonlight, your teeth look just like pearls.” His companion replies, “Who is Pearl and what have you been doing with her!?”

This is actually funny on several levels. Those who are “grammarically inclined” will recognize the power of the missing apostrophe. Did Grandpa say “pearls” or “Pearl’s?” A similar lesson demonstrates the power of a comma. Consider the difference between “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma.”

In spoken word, it’s actually unlikely that most people would be confused. We effectively “hear” the apostrophe or comma—that’s what makes these miscommunications funny. Written words become a little “trickier” even though they offer the opportunity for a higher level of precision. Some of my writer friends are fond of sending me real life examples of writing where the message meant and the message sent are very different.

Communication is both art and science and not a very exact science at that. Journalists and professional writers learn to proofread several different ways. That’s also usually the job of an editor—to look at writing and question the connection between message meant and message sent.

While I don’t have time to “professionally edit” every post and event submitted to the website and every article submitted for the bulletin—I do try to fix the obvious after a quick, critical read, but I can assure you I don’t catch everything. I’m really counting on submitters. So here are a couple of “tips” for those who want to truly communicate when they write for our site and bulletin.

Consider the audience. If you are, for example, writing up an event, don’t just focus on the event itself. Think about the people who are going to be reading what you write. What do they need to know? How are they going to react to what you’ve written? The writer’s job includes creating interest and making people want to read the entire story/article. Get in your reader’s head!

Remember the Five W’s and one H. Journalism 101 teaches Who, What, Why, When, Where and How. Applying these can be great fun because there are versions of each question. If we are writing about an event, “Who” could mean who is sponsoring it but it could also mean who should come. If we’re reporting about an event that happened the questions simply change to the past tense. Who sponsored it? Who came?

Let technology help. I usually let out a little groan when I receive something that is clearly full of typos and basic grammar errors because most programs offer some level of spelling and basic grammar checking. Set up your email or word processing program to do this automatically.

I recently had the opportunity to work with fifth graders during a writing assignment. One young lady was quite sure she’d run out of things to write about. I explained “writer’s block” and suggested she just start writing. “Just get your pencil moving… write words, don’t worry about whether or not they make sense. You can make sense later.” I’m happy to report she later shared the beginning of a story that sounds quite intriguing.

Don’t try to write the entire story in your head first. The odds are good you’ll get discouraged and either procrastinate or give up. One of the great things about technology is it’s easy to fix, edit, delete, move things around. Using your “W’s and H” get some stuff written. Then move it around and make it flow.

In her Master’s Memo this month, Vicki has suggested that when we have special events we should consider having a photographer assigned (a picture may be worth a thousand words, right?) and do some simple write-ups for the local media and our website.  That sounds like a great idea to me! Tell us what happened! Who did it? Why was it awesome? You can do this!

Disclaimer: In the interest of effective communication, the beginning of this article is not meant to imply I want people forwarding cartoons and jokes to me. Copyright issues prevent us from using them on the site or in the Bulletin and I get far more than I really need already, thank you!