Aug 312014
Celebrating Grange and Grangers

Celebrating Grange and Grangers

It was one of those news items that doesn’t make the national news. The Kennebec Journal reported that a Dresden man was facing charges after hitting three parked vehicles—two of which were equipped to handle wheelchairs. A 2009 Subaru Impreza was totaled. A 2011 Toyota Sienna and a 2013 Toyota Sienna, owned by a father of son, also were heavily damaged. The vans are each outfitted to accommodate wheelchairs used by three members of the Brown family — father Gerald and his sons, Steve and Jeff — who have a type of genetic ataxia, which causes lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements and makes wheelchairs a necessity for them.

While the story didn’t make national news, it did catch the eye of Marilyn Stinson, secretary of Enterprise Grange located in Richmond Maine. “We wanted to do something to help, but we weren’t sure what or how.  We were preparing our own fundraiser – Pancake Breakfast – during Richmond Days and knew we couldn’t use that money because we need it for fuel and electricity.”

Recognizing that Richmond Days offered a great opportunity to help these people, Enterprise Grangers went to work. Time was very limited so they began connecting immediately with phone calls and emails and Facebook messages.  Members came up with ideas. Newest member Kathy Seigars suggested a fishing game the kids could play; CJ Roy offered a bean bag game. But the group also recognized they needed something to entice adults who would likely contribute larger amounts of money.

Grangers teamed up to seek donations by getting the word out—both about the need for donations and the fundraiser itself. Stinson explained “we told people would be having ‘mystery prizes’ because the prizes were still a mystery to us in the early stages.”

And the donations poured in, ranging from Grange pencils to gift certificates from local businesses. Stinson donated copies of the book “Growing Up Kennebec” knowing many residents and former residents were coming to the festivities. Local entrepreneur Harold Brown donated his Nature’s Poison Ivy Relief and Skeeter Skidaddler. Grangers even found time to make “Thank you” bookmarks for token prizes.

One important donation was time because there was only a little left. Grangers were already working on the breakfast at their hall to help with the expense of operating the building. Members are also involved in a number of other groups and causes during the annual festival:  DRUM Bar-B-Q, two Senior Groups raising money for plowing assistance, Library, etc. But somehow it all came together—including some great publicity about the cause online and by the Kennebeck Journal, thanks in a large part to Suzzane Doiron—a former Junior Granger who has moved back to the area and is getting involved with Enterprise Grange.

When a reporter questioned her about why the Grange took on a project of this magnitude with such limited resources and time, Stinson replied, “Because that’s what Grange does.” Stinson adds, It really worked—the donations, the help, the publicity. One of Steve’s former classmates came to Richmond with her check and a $500.00 check from her co-worker who doesn’t even know the family.”

With the help of their community, this exciting Grange and these exciting Grangers raised over $2,000 to help this family–because that’s what Grange does.

Webmaster’s note: Individual contributions can still be made at

Aug 272014

J. Burton Eller, Jr., Managing Director of Burton Eller Associates in Washington, DC has been appointed Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Grange. Eller will be responsible for implementing the Grange public policy and government affairs agenda in the nation’s capital while engaging grassroots Grange members in this process. He will represent the Grange before Congress, agencies of the Federal Government, coalitions, working groups, and other organizations. Another important responsibility of the Director will be to increase the organization’s influence and visibility at the national level and to serve as a reliable resource on rural America, agricultural policy and other issues important to Grange members.

Eller, who starts September 1st, says he is “very excited to be working for an organization that has done so much for rural America and the rural community.”

“We are pleased to have someone with Burton’s agricultural experience and policy savvy in Washington join our team,” said Grange President Ed Luttrell.  Burton has been the head of two Washington offices, CEO of two associations and Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture at USDA.  His experiences with advocacy, coalition building, stakeholder management and executive leadership will certainly be valuable to our grassroots Grange mission”.

Eller operates a farm in southwest Virginia that has been in his family since 1868.

Aug 252014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

I’ve just been advised that WABI  TV5 was at the Fairview Grange in Smithfield this morning to film the LakeSmart story. (Yep, you read it here first: Fairview Grange Story. ) The resulting television story should air at tonight and tomorrow morning. I’ll look for an online posting and provide link when it becomes available. Congratulations, Fairview Grange for the award and the news!

Here is a link to the story as it ran on WABI TV5 News.

Aug 252014

Several years ago members of Piscataquis Pomona formed a special task force challenged to increase the Grange’s exposure during the annual Piscataquis Valley Fair. One important aspect of the groups’ work was a revised set of guidelines and judging criteria. Mary Annis recalls, “We wanted to maintain the traditional presence, but also encourage greater participation by encouraging displays that allow more creativity. We also felt we could create more interest from the public and better communicate the Grange message. As a bonus, we hoped to encourage more Granges to participate.”

So, while you’ll often find the traditional components of a Grange Fair Display, you’ll also see some things that are very different. One example this year was Garland Grange’s informational display emphasizing the nature of the Grange and describing how many of Garland’s members are farmers and gardeners. The brainchild of Andrea Rollins, the display used attractive signage to familiarize fair-goers with the community nature of the Grange. Admitting the display was created at the eleventh hour Andrea noted that “It’s important we keep doing this. People need to know the Grange is alive and well and can–and does–have a positive impact on our communities and citizens.”

Mary Annis, Janice Boomsma, and Linda Erwin came up with a “Then and Now” approach to Valley Grange’s display. “We often say we are, as a Grange, ‘steeped in tradition, but relevant today,'” Janice said. “And since we love old stuff we thought it would be fun to compare how things used to be done with how they are done today.”  The display did turn out to be a traffic stopper as some of the older folks remembered… and some of the younger folks said, “What is that?!” Telephones seemed to be of particular interest with children and grandchildren expressing disbelief that their parents and grandparents actually talked “into those things.”

The Grange portion of the exhibit hall was rounded out with a simple Pomona display that included information about every Grange in the Pomona. Pomona Overseer Walter Boomsma designed the display to serve multiple purposes. “We can use it whenever there’s an opportunity to promote Granges in the area. The stand is also designed to have interchangeable panels and could be used at public suppers and other events where there may be people interested in finding a Grange in our area.” Walter also notes that every display this year had some kind of “handout.” Garland used a list of public suppers and farmers’ market info, Valley had a “rack card” with a tear off coupon, the Pomona Booth featured a directory of Granges in the area with meeting times and contact information. “We want people to remember and find our Granges.”

“Competing for ribbons is really secondary for our Pomona,” he added. “We view the fair as fun–the competition is friendly–but the focus is on offering information and a positive experience to fair-goers.” This year the blue ribbon went to Valley Grange, red to the Pomona, and white to Garland.

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Aug 232014

TEAMThere’s still time –one week–to sign up for the first Leadership Meeting on Sunday, September 7 at MSG Headquarters. Here’s your chance to find out what a “lollipop moment” is and a whole lot more!

State Master Vicki reminds patrons, “One of the valued benefits of Grange membership is an opportunity to grow and learn. Not only will we do that, we’ll also be discussing opportunities we have to grow the Grange. This first meeting will also include information regarding State Convention.”

Attendees should plan to arrive at headquarters by 2 p.m.  An “RSVP” is not absolutely required, but it will help with planning if we have some idea how many will be attending, so please send an email to Vicki if you are planning to attend or just use the form below! Don’t forget to click the submit button at the bottom!

WHAT: Leadership Meeting

WHO: Maine State Grange Officers, Deputies, Directors and Committee Members

WHEN: Sunday, September 7 at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Maine State Grange Headquarters

Aug 222014

Garland Grange, a family friendly, community organization and part of Garland for over 140 years, is gearing up for another Garland tradition- Garland Days. Garland Grange has done their part each year to make the Annual town-wide celebration a success.  This year is no exception.

The theme for Garland Days this year is “Kids, Kids, Kids,” and it takes place September 4, 5,6 and 7, 2014.  The Grange has a variety of family-friendly activities happening at the hall this year.

Thursday night is the Pie Judging Contest at the Grange hall. This year’s categories are Fruit, Cream, Nut/Meat and a separate Kids category. Anyone can drop off their completed pie by 5:30 pm. The judging starts at 6:00 pm. All pie entries are used the following night at the Historical Society Pie and Ice Cream Social. Please put your name legibly on the bottom of your pie plate if you wish it returned to you.

While many Garland Days events are traditional, sometimes you have to move things around to make it interesting.  When the Fire Department announced that they were moving their annual Chicken BBQ to August due to Firefighters Convention being the same weekend as Garland Days, Garland Grange stepped up. The Garland Recreation Department will put on a Spaghetti dinner on Friday night at the Grange Hall from 5-7 pm. For more information about the Spaghetti Supper, please call 924-5679. This led to some other changes. The Historical Society Pie and Ice Cream Social will be outside the Grange hall with music by MMMM until 6:30 pm.  For more information about the Pie and Ice Cream Social, please call 924-3925. Please check with the Historical Society if you are looking for your pie plate from the contest.

Friday night upstairs of the Grange hall, Garland Grange invited the HJ Crosby Community Band to play, starting at 6:30 pm. Formerly known as the Dexter Community Band, this group of musicians puts on a great show. Admission is by donation. This concert will be part of their “British Invasion” summer series.

On Saturday and Sunday, Garland Grange is busy with American Legion Beano all day from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday and 12 pm to 4 pm on Sunday. Grange members will have lunch on sale, including hot dogs, soda, and desserts. Saturday night is the traditional Baked Bean Supper from 5-7 pm, and the menu includes baked beans, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, homemade bread and desserts. Dessert traditionally includes any pies not served at the Pie and Ice Cream Social on the previous night. All you can eat price is $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for children ages 5-12, and under age 5 is free.  Proceeds of all Garland Grange Suppers benefit Garland Grange New Heating System Fund.

Following the supper, there will be a Family Contra Dance upstairs from 7-9 pm. This is family friendly, and you don’t even need to know how to dance because it is taught. Admission is $5.00 per person or $12 per family. The caller for the dance is John McIntyre, and the live music is performed by Some Reel People. For more information about the contra dance, call 277-3961 or 924-3925.

Sunday morning of Garland Days starts early with the Garland Grange Breakfast.  Again, this is all you eat and it includes eggs cooked to order, bacon, sausage, toast, hash browns, juice and coffee for $7.00 per person, $3.00 for children ages 5-12, and under age 5 free. The breakfast runs from 7-10 am with proceeds to benefit Garland Grange.

For more information about these Garland Grange events, please call 924-3504.  For more information about all other Garland Days events, please call 924-5679.

Aug 192014

Webmaster’s Note: The following article is reprinted with permission from the most recent edition of The Dictionary Project’s electronic newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here. Please note these price changes are significant, but also note there is a willingness on the part of the Dictionary Project folks to discuss and difficulties sponsors are facing with this year’s program as a result. Let’s keep this great program going!


Dictionary Project LogoThe Dictionary Project has recently implemented a price change that applies to all of the books that are available through our organization. This price increase, which was effective on June 1st of 2014, is due to a combination of factors.

The increase in shipping costs, diminished availability of paper, and increase in demands for paper products throughout the global economy are all factors that have contributed to the recent price increase in the books that we offer. In order to continue being able to print books, publishers are having to obtain paper that is sourced from trees that are being cut down further and further into Canada. Purveyors of frozen and fast food products are major competitors as businesses seek out paper resources to be used for food packaging.

With all of the aforementioned factors playing a role in the need to raise the prices of the books, we are working hard to ensure that the quality of the books being distributed to the students is maintained. We have made many improvements to the books that are presently available to our sponsors, such as with the addition of more content-filled pages, as well as with the increase of the trim and font size of the words within the books so that they are easier to read.

Several sponsors have expressed their concern with the newly implemented costs of the dictionaries that are available and have questioned whether or not they would be able to continue their dictionary projects. Given the recentness of the price increase in the books, we urge our sponsors to discuss with us any difficulties they have been having in budgeting for their projects this year as we are willing to help and accommodate our sponsors’ needs in any way that we can.

As demonstrated by many of our sponsors, it is extremely important for organizations to extend their reach to more people as well as to collaborate and work together with others in order to sustain the amazing work that they are doing in their communities. One of the primary concerns of many organizations is declining membership, a topic that can be heard discussed at International Conferences. An important means of mitigating this concern is for organizations to consistently work to get more people involved with their projects, so that together they can work to further better their communities and the world.

The Dictionary Project continues to strive to keep costs as low as possible for our sponsors as we understand that what is most important is getting dictionaries into the hands of students. We greatly appreciate your continued support.

For additional information… to order your dictionaries… and for some great fundraising ideas, visit The Dictionary Project Website. 

Aug 182014
NelsonRobert and Agnes Nelson, Agriculture Directors

The month of August is most half gone, impossible! We are attending one to three Agricultural Fairs weekly now. Last week we were at Topsham Fair. They had five Agricultural exhibits. This week we have been to Skowhegan Fair. They had five domestic exhibits and four Agricultural exhibits. The Somerset Pomona State Grange display was very impressive. I hope everyone in those areas got to see the exhibits? Ossipee Valley Fair, Waterford’s World Fair and Pittston Fair each had one Grange exhibit. Monmouth Fair had two exhibits. So much work went into all of the exhibits. It makes us proud of what you all do and how much work goes into the displays. We have scheduled ourselves to attend Union Fair and Acton Fair all next week. We will also be at Farm Days in Clinton at Misty Meadows Farm the 20 and 21.

It has been real challenging this year scheduling judges for the fairs requesting Grange judges. This is the third year we have asked these judges to help out. Most of them travel many miles to judge the fair they are signed up for. It means so much to Bob and I to be able to depend on the judges. There are times when changes have to be made that the people judging have no control over. We do apologize for the inconveniences it may cause.

We are looking for any interested people to contact Maine State Grange if you would be interested in judging at a fair or two next year. We want to get new people back involved next year.

It is time to sign up for the Agricultural Luncheon for the State Grange Conference on Thursday, October 16 at the Federated Church in Skowhegan. We hope to see you there. Reservations are due by September 30.

Webmaster’s note: This arrived too late for publication in the printed August Bulletin… please share with others!

Aug 182014
Erin Callaway, Master of East Sangerville Grange serves Mike Griffin a super salad.

Erin Callaway, Master of East Sangerville Grange serves Mike Griffin a super salad.

“It was the best spaghetti I’ve had in my whole life,” according to Ashley who came all the way from Milo with her brother Wyatt to enjoy the Italian Buffet served by Penquis Volunteers. So what if she’s only five!? That’s a long time when you’re about to start Kindergarten. (She and her brother left with books compliments of Valley Grange in exchange for a promise to read them.) Similar comments were made by older members of the crowd who lined up not only to eat well, but to support Smart Starts for Students–a program that assists families with backpacks and school supplies.  By the time the dinner was over, not only had everyone achieved their quota of carbohydrates, nearly $500 had been raised for Smart Starts.

Grangers came from “around the Pomona” to participate in the installation ceremony. Officers and members present represented East Sangerville, Garland, South Sangerville, and Valley Granges as well as the Pomona itself. Piscataquis Pomona has been conducting “joint” installations for a number of years both because it’s “economical and efficient” according to Pomona Master Bill Bemis, and because “we really enjoy the fellowship.”

State Master Vicki Huff agreed and admitted she and her installation team endured the long trip because they knew there’s great food and fun at their destination, having conducted installation for the Pomona last year. Team Member Nancy Clark was hoping for the chicken pie from last year but was not disappointed with the Italian Buffet. Everyone had their fill of food, and while it’s probably not possible to have your fill of fun, we suspect many came close.

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Aug 162014
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

The August Bulletin has been released for printing and mailing! Get your copy here. This month’s issue includes some of the basic information regarding State Convention… a reminder this is a good time to think about a “Words for Thirds” program… some information about borrowing kids… why not print some copies for your members!

Also… don’t forget there’s still time to register for the Leadership Meeting on September 7! We’ve had a lot of people sign up already, but there are many we haven’t heard from officers, directors, and deputies. You can sign up online with just a few mouse clicks. Hope to see you there for an exciting and fun time!

Remember also, this is the time of year with lots of deadlines… contests, preparations and reservations for state convention, etc. Directors are reminded annual committee reports are due by September 15th… You could bring yours to the Leadership Meeting! (Electronic submission is greatly preferred.)