Nov 192017

Valley Grange was proud to host the Spirit of America Awards Celebration recently. When called to the front at the conclusion of the program honoring some seventeen individuals and organizations in Piscataquis County, members were surprised to learn they too were being recognized for their “heart for community service” and had been dubbed the “Top Grange in the State of Maine.”

Parkman Grange was also recognized for the many programs and services they provide including the SAD 4 Santa Program, Veterans’ Appreciation, Mothers’ Day Tea, and a number of activities and parties for children.

There was only one empty chair in the hall as local folks came to celebrate the “Spirit of America” making for a truly warm night in spite of the cold outside.

Past State Grange Master Rick Grotton noted that we have in the past been a top award winner at the state and national level and were, therefore, being recognized as the “Top Grange” in the State of Maine and nationally for our “heart for community service.

Nov 182017

Meenahga Grange member Laurie McBurnie presents a $300 check to Nobleboro Central School’s Battle of the Bookers club. Front from left: Izzy Peterson, Cheyenne Wadford, Paige Lafrenaye, Olivia Stiles, Dante Maskell, and McBurnie. Back: Alden Hunold, Ivan Coffin, Ben Sawyer, William Sherrill, and John Rice. (Paula Roberts photo)

Meenahga Grange, of Waldoboro, donated $300 to Nobleboro Central School’s Battle of the Books teams. The money is to be used to purchase books for the AOS 93 program.

“We appreciate the support of the Meenahga Grange for our Battle of the Books effort this year,” said NCS librarian Kris Harriman, who co-coached the teams last year with eighth-grade teacher Laurie Stiles. “Our students already are thrilled and ready to start reading.”

Teams consist of four to six students each. Nobleboro fielded three teams last school year and captured three of the top four spots in the competition for grades six through eight at Lincoln Academy. The sixth-grade team, The Professors, placed first; The Bucket Squad came in third, and The Lit Squad took fourth.

The winning team won gift cards from Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta. All students received T-shirts and celebrated with a pizza party after the competition. The LA library staff and student aides hosted the event. Pizza was donated by The Penalty Box, Hilltop Stop in Damariscotta, and the Newcastle Publick House.

The five AOS 93 schools will compete this season. Schools pick a book each to read. Students then write trivia questions about each book. Librarians and Lincoln Academy staff then pick the best questions from each book for the trivia competition. “The better the question, the more likely you will get your own question,” a Nobleboro student said.

Last year students read “Misadventures of the Family Fletcher,” “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler,” “Crossover,” and “American Born Chinese.”

Sample questions from “American Born Chinese” include: Why did Gin change his hair? What did Tim say when Gin was first introduced to class? What does Gin turn into and why?

Nobleboro teams met every Friday at lunch last year and practiced by forming questions and asking other teams in their school to answer them.

“Part of it is to get books into students’ hands. Lincoln Academy is a big help. They donate one book and we have to buy the other three,” Harriman said.

Part of the fun of the Battle of the Books competition is to dress up in costumes. The Professors dressed up in lab coats and safety glasses, and the Great Salt Bay Community School team dressed like the Fletcher family.

This year’s Battle of the Books event is scheduled for March 23, 2018 at Lincoln Academy. LA students will moderate the event.

Nov 182017

This article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

2-1-1 Maine works with statewide organizations who are generous enough to provide a Thanksgiving meal, a Thanksgiving basket, a Christmas meal, a Christmas basket, and gifts for your loved ones during the holiday season. For holiday resources available in your area dial 2-1-1 to speak with a Call Specialist or text 898-211 for an online conversation.

Thanksgiving Meals & Programs Across Maine is the 2-1-1 website listing resources for help–and projects that might benefit from some help from your Grange!

Nov 182017

Maialisa / Pixabay

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (, the AmazonSmile Foundation will do-nate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.”

For Grangers and Grange friends, it’s quite easy. Just use this special link to the Amazon Website: (We have a button with the link readily available in a sidebar on the website.) You’ll know you’ve succeeded when the upper left corner includes the words “Supporting Maine Grange Foundation.”

Amazon is already tracking your purchases… they will, at regular intervals, send the Foundation a donation based on one-half percent of all purchases made using the Amazon Smile link. It costs you, the shopper, nothing. Other than using the link, you need to nothing to make this happen. Your shopping habits and purchases remain confidential–the only thing Amazon sends to the Maine Grange Foundation is money! The only thing you do (other than using the URL) is shop!

You can also download an Amazon Smiles Program Flyer to post on your bulletin board and distribute to members and friends… the more shoppers we have, the more money we raise.
Amazon Smiles LOgo

Nov 172017

Master Sherry reports from National Grange Convention, “Under this whipped cream is Jimmy Owens, Priest Analyst and State EC Member of Maine, on the receiving end of the pie in the face fundraiser for the youth dept. at National Grange.  Amanda Brozana Rios held the winning ticket and she asked Lew Bryson to assist.  High Priest Bruce Croucher and Preist Archon Roger Bostwick were also recipients.”

Nov 152017


The Agricultural Committee wishes to thank all Grangers who supported our table at the State Grange Session in support of our Agricultural Scholarships.  Our committee meets this week to put our calendar and plans together for the 2018 year.

We are looking for assistance in covering of our Maine State Grange booth at the Agricultural Trade Show booth from January 9-11, 2018.  If you are willing to sit at the booth during that time frame (9-5 Tuesday, 9-7 Wednesday and 9-3 Thursday) please call me 592-6980 or email me Karendothdotgagneatmainedotedu  (Karendothdotgagneatminedotedu)  . This booth is representative of all Granges in our state and we appreciate your support.

The Ag Committee wants to congratulate Pam and Bryan Wells the 2017 Outstanding Tree Farmers of the year. Their commitment to collaboration with other organizations to preserve our plants, woods, and fields is demonstrated through words and actions in their community-oriented Demonstration Tree Farm.

The Ag Committee met today and will have the updated 2018 Ag Scholarship Application available in January.  We will also have the newly revised guidelines for the 2018 Maine Agricultural Enterprise Award available and sent to all Granges after the New Year. We are encouraging all Granges to nominate families for the award in 2018.

The Agricultural Committee with lots of help from additional Grangers prepared and served the Maine Ag in the Classroom Annual meeting banquet and many thanks to all who served and/or made pies for this event in spite of the fact we were without power!

Nov 152017

A mug WB

In my very little spare time, I’ve been reading an excellent book about writing. One sentence I encountered recently kept me awake for a while. “Your readers don’t know anything.” That’s very good advice to those of us who are trying to communicate. And it is excellent advice to those of us who are involved in organizations that have their own language and vocabulary.

I think this goes beyond the five w’s that should be included in every press release to include making sure we explain things that may seem commonplace to us, but not to our readers who “don’t know anything.” What does it mean, for example, when we describe the Grange as a ‘fraternal’ organization?” Our readers might not know. (Fraternal comes from the word “fraternus” meaning brother. One dictionary defines it as “of or being a society associated in brotherly union, as for mutual aid or benefit.”)

We shouldn’t be condescending, certainly. But in our communication, it does make sense to consider the real possibility our reader or listener doesn’t know much.

I’m pleased to announce that much of the Grange year-end activity required of your Communications Department is nearing completion. We have updated the officer list on the Bulletin sidebar and website, revised the ODD Directory (listing all current officers, directors, and deputies), and posted all program books that have been made available. There’s still some “under the hood” stuff to do, but most people won’t notice it—and don’t need to anyway!

Let me remind folks that for the most part, I don’t generate what’s communicated, I am very dependent on others. I cannot share what I don’t know or don’t have. I wish every Granger in Maine would consider him/herself a reporter. A goal for this year is to increase the number of posts (stories) about Granges that are succeeding either with membership increases or events that are successful. No story is too small for our website. You don’t have to be an award-winning writer—we can use a photo and tell the story in a caption of a few sentences—that’s called a “cutline” in the media business.

While no story is too small for the website another reality is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to capture the attention of traditional media. Even my local reporters are telling me they are covering fewer and fewer events in person. I received some criticism during State Convention for “not having the television people there.” Please understand, media presence at events is getting more and more difficult to achieve. I attempted to explain to my critic that simply holding a convention isn’t newsworthy. I’m not sure I succeeded, so let me remind everyone that it is much easier and effective to make news than it is to write press releases.

The media business is changing in many ways and it’s truly a mixed bag. While the Internet makes sharing information and news relatively easy, traditional media is struggling to find its role in a digital world. I can attest that some reporters subscribe to the Maine State Grange website as a source of news tips and leads. If you want to attract the media, telling your story on it might be a great way to start!


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Nov 152017

Short messages from your Communications Department

Just a quick reminder of a couple meetings and some recently added resources:

  • There will be a MSG Officers meeting at headquarters on Saturday, November 18, 2017, at 1:00 pm.


  • Deputy School is planned for Saturday, December 2, 2017, at headquarters from 9:30 am until noon. Master Sherry says, “Officers and Directors are welcome to participate if they wish to. We will be covering duties & expectations, some ritualistic floorwork, revised paperwork,  goals, and problem-solving.” Meatball subs and cake will be served for lunch.


  • An Executive Committee meeting will be held on Saturday, December 2, 2018, at headquarters at 1:00 pm.



  • ODD (Officers, Directors, Deputies) Directory has been updated to reflect elections and appointments with contact information and is available for download: ODD-Directory-11-17. Thanks to Master Sherry for her help with this!


Nov 152017


As part of my work with our school, I recently chaperoned a group of honor music students on a bit of a “field trip.” They took part in a long day that culminated with a truly amazing concert. There were some twenty schools represented—middle school age kids. My job was basically to keep the kids safe and make sure they had a good time. For various reasons, I was in contact with our school principal several times throughout the day, most often by text message.

How does this relate to the Grange Way of Life? The experience demonstrated that as we adopt the “Grange Way” it can, in fact, become a way of life. We follow it and it follows us. I realized it after the concert was over and each student had, as instructed, “checked out” with me by bringing a parent to meet me before leaving. After the last one left, I texted to the principal, “All is secure. Every student has checked out with a parent.” At least I didn’t call her “Worthy Master.”

I think it’s interesting that National Grange has adopted “The Grange Way” as a theme for a theme and I am anxious to see how that theme translates into practice, partly because of the challenges we face as a collection of individuals, trying to live the Grange Way. A strength of the Grange is also a weakness. As a grassroots organization, we take on many different forms and interests. Do we have an identity crisis?

What is the Grange Way? I confess I’m tempted to set up a survey on the website and ask that question. I suspect we’d get some interesting answers!

National Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rios revealed her new tattoo at the Maine State Grange Convention. On the inside of her forearm you ‘ll find the familiar, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, freedom, In all things, charity.” I think that bit of ink represents a strong commitment to the Grange Way of life and I congratulate Amanda for quite literally making it part of her.

While it makes sense to adopt new themes, and occasionally change our focus, for an organization such as ours, we do well when we consider what has worked for 150 years.

I think it’s funny that I ended my school assignment with an automatic announcement, “All is secure.” I think it would be great if we found ourselves reciting the Grange slogan more often. When we find ourselves disagreeing regarding a course of action during a Grange Meeting, someone needs to stand up and remind us, “In essentials, unity… in non-essentials, freedom… in all things charity.” Is it necessary (essential) that we agree on everything? Can we allow individuality? How do we demonstrate charity (love) as we go about being Granges and Grangers?

You can bet you’ll be hearing more from me on this topic… but for now, “All is secure.”

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.


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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.

Nov 142017

Check out this news story on WVII AB 7/FOX 22!

Guilford–Piscataquis County winners of the 2017 Spirit of America Foundation Tribute for outstanding community service will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, November 17, 2017 starting at 7:00 PM in the Valley Grange Hall 172 Guilford Center Road, Guilford.

Spirit of America Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity established in Augusta, ME to encourage volunteerism. Since the first Spirit of America Foundation award was presented to Alma Jones by Augusta’s Mayor in 1991, over 500 Spirit of America ceremonies have taken place. Director Bruce Flaherty noted this presentation is based in Piscataquis County “because there are so many awards being given.”

Those to be honored (and receive a certificate signed by their Maine Legislators) at the countywide ceremony include: the Abbott Historical Society, David Kinney from Atkinson, Beaver Cove School Committee, Bowerbank Fire Department, Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society, Charlotte White Center, Partnership Food Pantry in Greenville, Herring Family from Guilford, Medford Planning Board, Milo’s Summer Meals Program, Monson Summerfest, Parkman Grange, Linda Hall & Wilson Nuite from Sangerville, Sebec Village Associates, Patricia Mace from Shirley, Wellington Fire Department, and Willimantic Civic Association.

The event is open to the public. “We hope friends and family of these recipients will come and help us salute these models of the volunteer spirit of America,” Flaherty suggested, adding that certificates from the Maine Legislature will be included. “This will be a fun, uplifting evening with no long speeches,” he promised.”

Valley Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma is excited the Grange has been given the honor of hosting the awards. “All Granges are about community and Valley Grange is certainly not an exception. We enjoy making our hall available to organizations dedicated to building strong individuals and communities. It is a special treat to host individuals and organizations doing just that!”

Additional information about the Foundation is available at and the event at