Jan 232017

Annisby Jim Annis, Legislative Director

Wow! Another year gone by. Just where does the time go? The next thing you know it will be time for another conference.

At last October’s annual State Grange conference there were three resolutions that were suggested going before the Maine Legislature. It’s been a long row to be hoed, but the results are coming in. So far the results are not too good.

I passed a resolution from Cumberland Pomona, regarding the automobile inspection fee for Cumberland county residents, on to our local State Senator. I received a plethora of information that gave me a strong indication that it didn’t have a chance in the Legislature.

I’ll try to explain. As we all know, Maine requires a state inspection of motor vehicles each year. While those of us living in any other county but Cumberland pay an inspection fee of $12.50, Cumberland county residents pay a fee of $15.50.  There’s a reason for this. Cumberland County requires an emission test of every vehicle registered in that county.

There’s some history here. In 1998 a bill was submitted to the Maine Legislature requiring all vehicles registered in Maine to have an emission test as part of the annual inspection. The threat of not having an emissions test will possibly cause a loss of revenue from the federal government, the bill failed anyway.

However, because Cumberland County didn’t meet clean air standards, a bill was introduced in April 1998 that would hold Cumberland County to an emissions test program. It was felt by the Legislature that the passing of any form of emissions testing would satisfy the federal government. Apparently, it has.

As far as submitting a bill to the Legislature regarding a uniform state inspection fee I feel doesn’t have a chance. And the state Senator feels the same way. However, if Cumberland Pomona feels this is a worthy project, I would suggest they contact their local representatives and senators for their opinions.

However, with the closure of the period of submitting bills passed (December 30, 2016), not much will happen during this legislative session.

Jan 222017

I started my Grange Journey at the age of five as a Junior Granger. At the age of 14, I joined Mousam Lake Grange, working my way up thru the offices to Master, prior to attending Casco Bay College.

Upon graduation from college, I held several office jobs, including Getty Petroleum, Konica Photo, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. I am currently working at Maine Medical Center as a Payment Poster.

I am currently Master of Mousam Lake Grange and Steward for York Pomona. I am looking forward to serving many years as a Deputy and living up to the standards set by my parents (Joe and Lorraine Goodness) while they were Deputies.

Welcome, Melissa! Note that contact information for Melissa (and all Officers, Deputies and Directors is available  in the “ODD Directory” published by the Communications Department. Get your copy here: ODD Directory!

Jan 222017

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Davis, State State Senator for District 4. Sounds like a great opportunity!

The Maine Government Summer Internship Program, established by the legislature in 1967, offers students enrolled in a Maine college, or students from Maine enrolled elsewhere, the opportunity to spend 12 weeks in full-time, paid internships in Maine state, local and county government positions. The program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, located at the University of Maine, in collaboration with the Office of the Governor, the Maine Bureau of Human Resources, numerous state agencies and local governments. To learn more about previous positions, projects and placements, click here. The 2017 program will run from May 30 to August 18. For more information, contact Peggy McKee, Internship Program Administrator at (207) 581-1644 or margaretdotmckeeatmainedotedu  (margaretdotmckeeatmainedotedu)  .

Jan 142017

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

One of my ongoing goals as MSG Communications Director goes beyond keeping members informed to providing you with resources—both internal (Grange “stuff”) and external (resources from other organizations and individuals that may have value to Grangers.

Grange month is coming! For several years now, National Grange has not mailed information packets but has rather made material available on the National Grange website. This year, I have added that Grange month material to our Maine State Grange website to make it readily available. It really is time to start planning your Grange Month celebration!

Officers and directors are certainly encouraged to submit information and documents we can make accessible. Visit the “Program Books and Information” section of the site and check out what’s there! You’ll be amazed!

In terms of “external” information, I am always on the prowl for articles, information, websites, etc. that may hold interest and have value for our members and site visitors. Recent examples of this include a wish list from the VA with community service opportunities in Maine and a link to a free fifty-page book regarding personal finance (lecturer’s program? Family health and hearing material?).

This was an extremely busy month for our “In search of…” feature. Not only have there been several requests for Grange information ranging from cookbooks to history, we’ve also had a number of requests for information regarding using Grange Halls for personal and community events. One that is particularly rewarding involved some volunteers who wanted to sponsor a benefit for a young family whose unborn child has a severe medical issue. In short, we were able to facilitate an exciting connection to Fairview Grange #342 that is resulting in an informal partnership an opportunity for the folks at Fairview to support the family and the community. The Communications Department even got involved, helping with promotion.

Shared events like this are just plain awesome. Not only do they increase the likelihood of success, they also introduce new people to the Grange, increase the visibility of the Grange in the community, and demonstrate what the Grange is all about. Just make sure your hall looks good and your Bulletin Board is current—filled with lots of positive information about your Grange, your members, and your needs.

While we were on vacation this past summer, we attended a concert in a rather large church. Their foyer area was truly amazing—it communicated a sense of welcome and demonstrated opportunities and needs. They freely used small, topic-specific bulletin boards, clipboards with sign-up sheets and small tables with brochures and flyers. There was one corner with several comfortable chairs where one could sit and review material. For someone interested in communication, it was close to nirvana! Admittedly, they had a large area to work with, but the ideas can certainly be adapted.

Find someone in your Grange and offer him or her an opportunity to create at least one “communications area” and see what he or she can come up with! When it’s finished, take a photo and send it! If you’re not feeling particularly creative, you could start with a welcome mat at the front door!

Grange Month Clarification

If you find Grange Month information a bit confusing at first, the idea is to base the celebration on the National Grange Program called “I’m a doer.” The Grange Month material appears to follow a line of,  “When the do-ers are gone…”  Unfortunately, (in my opinion) that sounds like a prediction unless you read the details explaining that Grange Month celebrates “do-ers.” This could make a great link to the community citizen award many Granges present during Grange Month. Your headline for a press release might be “Local Grange Honors a Do-er…

Jan 142017

Many Grangers in Maine have met Chris Hadsel from Curtains Without Borders–she has visited a number of Grange Halls here in Maine and been extremely helpful with information and assistance relative to the curtains found in many Grange Halls. She and her colleges have just released a video entitled, Conserving Historic State Curtains.  (Click the title to view.) It’s quite informative and covers a wide variety of topics… a great resource for those who wish to be good stewards of these works of art!

You’ll also find additional information on the Curtains Without Borders website.

Jan 142017

by Rick Grotton, State Master

While attending the Agricultural Trade Show in Augusta on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday evening, I was very pleased at the number of people who stopped by who were interested in joining Grange. Over the number of years I have attended, this year seemed to be different; the visitors consisted of farmers and others who want to learn the how to grow food or just interested in agricultural programs. One young farm couple wants to organize a Grange which would be similar to the operations of Halcyon and Farmington Granges. A deeper interest in the agricultural aspect seems to be desired by most of the visitors. It is up to us to welcome them. Is this the wave of the future that we have been searching for? Let’s let it happen and find out.  It was interesting listening to them; their needs and desires from what they expect as members of the Grange. Contact information was given for Granges in their respective areas, so Masters, expect a call from one of these prospective members.

If anyone needs information concerning insurance for Grange Halls, I have information for two companies.

Great American Insurance Group (513-389-1869) and Bob Clouse Insurance (844-472-6431). Martha Stefenoni is the agent for the latter.

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? I am working still on mine! Any new plans for the year for your Grange? I know there are many Granges that do not meet in the Winter, however, Grange doesn’t stop there and start up again in the Spring. Use the time to plan for the year, to research, to visit other Granges. Once you meet for the first time you will go in with a solid agenda and fresh ideas.  Use the time to explore the State and National websites.  Keep up on the activities of the State Committees and upcoming contests. One goal this year is to have a talent contest representative at National Grange in 2017. It has been a few years since we have had representation. There is much talent in our membership!

The dates for State Grange Session in Skowhegan this year are October 19-21. Set up will be Wednesday, October 18 and session will begin at 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning. The banquet will be held Thursday evening. Time, place and menu TBD.

Hope everyone is safe and warm!!!

Jan 142017

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

A new year is upon us and with that the hope of spring.

The Roster for 2017 has been mailed.  We, at State Headquarters, hope that you find the Roster helpful.  Roster updates and additions are available and will be published in the Bulletin or through the State Secretary.

You will be receiving requests for donations from the various directors and/or committee chairs in the near future.  I am requesting that all donations from your Grange be sent directly to the director unless their request states otherwise.  Donations to the Kelley Farm should be mailed directly to: National Grange, 1616 H St., Washington DC 20006 with checks made payable to the Grange Foundation earmarked “Kelley Farm Fund.”

Worthy Secretary, “The duties of your office are the most arduous of all.” During the past 149 years Grange Secretaries have realized that their tasks have been somewhat demanding, requiring that they be present at all meetings, that they be alert in recording the minutes, that they be accurate in their accounts, and that they be courteous to all at all times.

Materials for Grange Secretaries

In an effort to aid the Grange Secretary and Treasurer in their labors the following are available from State Headquarters: Secretary’s Receipts, $8.00; Improved Order Book, $6.50; Treasurer’s Receipt Book, $6.00.

The Secretary’s Receipt Books are used to record the yearly dues received from your members.

Treasurer’s Receipt Books are used to record monies received from the Secretary.  All money goes through the Secretary to be recorded in the record book and then turned over to the Treasurer.  The Treasurer will then complete a receipt listing what the monies received from the Secretary was for and gives the receipt to the Secretary to have for her records.

The Improved Order Book is used at each meeting.  The Secretary will fill out the Order form and have the Master sign the form and it should have the grange seal embossed on it.  This is a record that provides the Treasurer with information to pay what bills.  Some bills are automatic as they may come due before a meeting is held but these should be included in the next Order to the Treasurer with a notation that the bill was paid and the date of payment.  This gives you as the Secretary a check and balance with the Treasurer of what bills may be outstanding.

It is to the advantage of every Grange Secretary and Treasurer to have the Grange Accounts audited at least once a year, and also whenever one of these Officers changes.  Using the above record keeping forms will help greatly in your audits.


It is to the advantage of every Grange Secretary and Treasurer to be bonded.  This is not that we expect a Grange Secretary or Treasurer to embezzle funds; it is for their protection in case of theft, loss, or being mislaid.

The Maine State Grange does offer coverage for $5000.00 and administrative cost will be $25.00 for three years.  This is an administrative cost, not a premium, as the State Grange cannot sell insurance.  We are only making an agreement with your Grange that if you have a loss caused by mishandling of Grange money by a covered individual, the State Grange will cover that loss and prosecute the offender.  An application must be filed and the administrative cost paid prior to coverage.  An audit must be taken of all Grange accounts covered by the Maine State Grange prior to filing and each year henceforth.  These audits must be available for inspection any time during the term of the bond.


First of all, it is very necessary that they be collected in a businesslike manner, and that every effort is made to collect them.  Most people pay their indebtedness when they are billed.

A notice should be sent 60 days prior to the first of the year as to the amount of the dues which states that they are payable in advance.

Second, on February 1 send a follow-up notice to each member who has overlooked paying their dues the first of the year.

Final, on April 1 send a final notice and at the next Grange meeting announce to the Grange that you have “X” number of members who have not paid their dues. You may use phone, personal contact, special delivery mail with return receipt, or any other method you see fit.  But every effort should be made to collect these dues and maintain these Patrons on the rolls.

Under no conditions does the Secretary have the right to drop anyone from the books for nonpayment of dues without the action of the Grange.

Quarterly Reports

Quarterly reports are the official membership and dues reporting of Grange Secretaries.   These reports are due on March 31st—June 30th—September 30th and December 31st.  I make available to Subordinate and Pomona Granges who are expected to report, the proper and necessary forms upon which to file these reports. These reports are requested to be mailed no later than the 10th of the month following each quarter.

When mailing your quarterly reports, you should mail the top (white copy) to me at headquarters, middle copy (yellow) is mailed to your POMONA SECRETARY (not State Headquarters) and the last page kept for your records.

As I have been reminded that we must provide our Ganges with the proper paperwork and information I will be adding forms to the Secretary Help Page.  I am sure that those of you who are working more with the internet will find these helpful.  I have not forgotten the fact that some secretaries still need mailings so these will not stop.

Be safe and enjoy the New Year.

Jan 142017

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119, reprinted with permission. Sounds like a great resource for a Lecturer’s Program and might fit into Family Health and Hearing.

 New Consumer Booklet Free to Maine Residents:  “On the Money – A Young Person’s Guide to Personal Finance”

Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection announces the release of a new consumer publication, “The Downeaster Common Sense Guide:  On the Money – A Young Person’s Guide to Personal Finance.” The new, nearly 50-page booklet is online at www.Credit.Maine.gov.  Free printed copies are available to Maine residents by calling 1-800-332-8529.

Bureau Principal Examiner David Leach, who coauthored the guide, said it will help people become more “situationally-aware” when facing major decisions or making key choices about their finances, including:

  • the financing of a vehicle or student loans;
  • establishing and maintaining credit responsibly;
  • the significance of credit reports and credit scores;
  • the fundamentals of purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments;
  • comparison-shopping for the lowest annual percentage rate (APR) when using credit;
  • the basics of auto, home, life, and health insurance;
  • realizing that credit cards do not represent “free money,” and that charges and cash advances must be paid back, with interest; and
  • avoiding too-good-to-be-true fraudulent offers, such as foreign lottery winnings, no-interest loans, or no-risk investments.

The online version of this new guide and all other “Downeaster Common Sense” financial publications can be found at www.Credit.Maine.gov by clicking “Publications.”  Copies can also be ordered by calling the Bureau at 1-800-332-8529 (toll-free in Maine) or 624-8527.

Jan 132017


By Walter Boomsma

“Nothing more rapidly inclines a person to go into a monastery than reading a book on etiquette. There are so many trivial ways in which it is possible to commit some social sin.”

Quentin Crisp

Isn’t that an interesting thought? Some years ago I was contacted by a major pharmaceutical company who requested “etiquette” training for their sales force. They were concerned about this very point and wanted to be certain sales people knew which fork to use at formal dinners for fear of committing a social sin that would alienate prospective customers (mostly doctors).

The story of that program is interesting. A short version brings us to the point that choosing the fork wasn’t the real issue. There were some far more basic “etiquette” issues (like not listening to and respecting those potential customers) that needed to be addressed.

Most people will forgive us for using the wrong utensil at a dinner. (The principles of etiquette are behaving properly communicates respect.) It falls under the heading of a trivial way of committing some social sin. Most would agree, there’s a difference between failing to hold a door open because we didn’t notice someone behind us versus slamming the door in his or her face.

In previous columns, I have written about the importance of celebrating our traditions and ritual along with the importance of keeping them in perspective and balance. Ritual is also about communication and, I think, very analogous to etiquette because both our words and actions form our language.

I think the author’s point is similar to the one I have tried to make. While I’m not an expert on etiquette, I know that he’s right. If you thoroughly read a book on etiquette you might be frightened at the number of often trivial ways one can commit a social sin.

How different is that with our own Grange “etiquette?” Ours is complicated by the fact that much of it is not “written down” or readily available from a dependable source. I once sat in a meeting that included a twenty-minute debate among self-appointed experts on which foot to lead with during some floorwork. I have attended meetings and degree work when memorized parts were rattled off so fast and with so little feeling they were unintelligible. We might well consider what actions like this communicate.

Obsessive attention to detail in ritual will sometimes send people running from our Granges. Would you want to sit next to someone at a formal dinner who kept pointing out your errors in selection of utensils and how to place them to signal the server your intentions? Just this week I heard yet another story of the Grange equivalent of that happening. A member arrived at a meeting late and either didn’t know or couldn’t remember the “correct” procedure for “working in” to a meeting. The way he was treated sent him, almost literally, running from the Grange. No, he didn’t enter a monastery, but In spite of the fact his family was deeply involved in Grange, he has never attended another meeting since.

So perhaps instead of focusing on the “trivial ways” we have, we might look at the values of the Grange. At the beginning of the third degree, the steward explains to the candidates (my emphasis), “…should possess your minds that you may enjoy your advancement and feel as well as hear the attendant lessons. We must reap for the mind as well as for the body, and from the abundance of our harvest, in good deeds and kind words dispense charity.”

Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange.

Jan 132017

HeatherBy Heather Retberg

New years, old years, fresh years, stale years, letting go, looking forward, remembering, reflecting and faltering, finding our steps.  Time is passing.  We’re noting it once again as one day, December 31st, becomes another, January 1st.  Carolyn wants to know why we ask children on their birthdays if they ‘feel any different now that they’re ‘x’ years old’.  Of course we don’t, she tells me, speaking for all children everywhere shaking their heads at strange adult questions.  Do we feel any differently when one-year ends and another begins, when that is how we mark the passage of time?  Are we different?  Oh, we can feel differently, when we ‘make’ time to observe it all going by.  Can we let time go, and all the experiences that time held?  Can we take up another year, embrace it as different than yesterday, new and changed somehow?  How is that ours to do?

Farm time runs a little differently, I think, maybe more like kid-birthday time.  Why would we feel differently?  Why would we be different?  Farm time is steady by nature, urgent by nature, and, this year, more than any other I remember, the constancy of farm work informs our observance of time passing more than any other fleeting factor.  There has been little time these past few weeks to look back or look forward.

Quill’s Endians, at this moment in time, have been quite fully engaged with the present.  Every present moment.  Thoughts of the future are ones that we see like clouds far overhead and way off in the distance, not dark clouds, but floating by out of reach, unknown.  They simply can’t be considered.  Constancy demands our attention right here and right now.  The waters are frozen and need re-filling.  The barn needs shoveling–keep the cows and calves clean.   Grain to hens, water from well to hens, hay to bulls and heifers, run the hose out to the dairy cows, up to the paddock, too.  Throw hay down for the cows, throw hay for the goats, milk cows, milk goats, bottle, rinse, wash.  Make a meal–call it breakfast.  Set the milk on to heat–cheese to make, yogurt to make, cheese to make again.  Hang the cheese, cut the curd, incubate the yogurt, stir, stir, stir, cool down.  Haul wood, split wood, stack wood.  Look at each other, make eye contact, remember to talk, need logistics plan, need a hug. Make another meal–call it supper.  Rest.  Repeat.

Looking back seems a similarly distant, far off endeavor.    It should appear clearer, I think, in view.  We have lived it, felt it, done it, wrote about it, interacted with the past–it all…happened.  Just now, however, it looks equally cloudy and far off.  There were sad, sad losses on the farm this year.  Our fields and barns hold long, wracking sobs and quiet tears of acquiescence to what must be.  There were tender, sweet births.   Our joy lies under the trees, our laughter in the orchards.  Our reverent awe at it all is suspended in the air.   It was surely a year full of beginnings and endings just as constant in their cycles of growing and waning as winter farm work.

What comes clearest into view, however, is only the present just now, and the nearest coming future.  Another legislative session begins this Wednesday–this, too, has become a constant in our lives.  New representatives seek to reconstruct better small-farm policies and are reaching out from across the state.  We are reaching out with a different approach to ensure state recognition of food sovereignty, safeguarding communities’ leadership toward protected legal space for our food exchanges.   Here, too, the year past holds gains and losses that appear in hindsight somewhat blurred together.  But, I wonder, have the scars healed from last session’s fierce, long battle to ensure a constitutional right to food freedom and food self-sufficiency?   Our mettle is tested.  Have we forged strong enough joints for what lies ahead?   I am increasingly certain that it can’t be known, but that it must be done, and that faith is the only guide forward, resting on assurance that we will harvest if only we do not give up, if we do not weary.  Farming holds strong lessons for advocacy.

This beginning of another year holds more questions than clarity.  That is the constant of this moment in time for the farm, and likely beyond us, too.  2016 was here a year of reclaiming at Quill’s End.  We began again, we resolved to continue, and we did, and we have.  We reached a little harder to accomplish balance, ecologically and economically.  Time will tell if these efforts will bear the fruit we hope for.  Time will pass and time will tell.  Only time, one day, one moment, passing from present to present, constancy our companion, faith our guide.  Do we feel any differently in 2017 than in 2016?  (Carolyn’s voice rings clearly in my ears.)   Of course not. Onward.  Only, onward.


Heather and Phil Retberg together with their three children run Quill’s End Farm, a 105-acre property in Penobscot that they bought in 2004. They use rotational grazing on their fifteen open acres and are renovating thirty more acres from woods to pasture to increase grazing for their pigs, grass-fed cattle, lambs, laying hens, and goats. Heather is Master of Halcyon Grange #345 and writes a newsletter for their farm’s buying clubs for farmers in her area and has generously given us permission to share some of her columns with Grangers throughout the state.

Grange members are invited to submit guest columns to Views from the Farm for consideration by emailing the webmaster. Please note that the views and opinions expressed in contributed articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Grange.