We’re Back…to our regular schedule for Grange meetings on the first Saturday of the month. Join us at 4:30 for our monthly consideration of all Grange business–legislative, agricultural and health concerns…and taxes! More on that below.
At 5:45, we’ll take off our sashes, put away the Grange paraphernalia and rearrange the chairs, so we can listen to our “Program”:
What: Recycling 101
Who: Cassandra Hemenway, Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator of the CVWSMD
How much: Free!–and open to everyoneThis presentation will explain the new mandatory recycling being required for all Vermont waste generators–which includes all of us as individuals as well as the Grange Hall. It will also be an opportunity ask questions about what to do about composting, recycling specifics, and more. Do you know what the “Statewide Six” are? Cassandra will take on all your questions.Followed at 6:30 by the equally free (as well as being famous and fabulous) Grange Potluck Dinner. Make something tasty with the bounty of the harvest season, and get to know the rest of the Grange members and friends who show up to share good food and good conversation.
Property Taxes and our chances for reductions
As predicted, we spent a fair amount of time at our September meeting talking about taxes–specifically the $7,159 we are paying this year to the Town of Berlin. This is about 1/3 of our annual budget! And as we discovered when volunteers did a survey of the Granges in the state of Vermont, we seem to be the only Grange Hall which is taxed at the full local tax rate in the whole state. All of the others, we found, get at least a 50% tax break.
At our meeting, we talked about the best way to demonstrate our value to the town, and to convince the Town that we too deserve a break on our taxes. We’ve been talking with the Town Selectboard, and have proposed expanding our role as a de facto Community Hall for the town, by donating a couple of rentals per month to Town uses. We’ve found out that we would need to be on the Town Meeting’s Australian ballot to get a reduction–this is because this action would mean a (small) increase in the taxes on other property taxpayers. Our tax payments represent about 3/10 of 1% of the total taxes paid by the taxpayers of Berlin.
In order to get on the ballot, we will need to get about 120 signatures on petitions, by January of 2016. In order to get our taxes reduced, we would need to get a majority of votes on the Australian ballot voting on the first Tuesday of March.
So the question is–how to get the word out that we are worth this small subsidy? How to convince people to vote to give us this break–which will make a huge difference in our ability to survive and thrive as a community service organization with a wonderful Hall?
We didn’t come to a final decision; we voted to give our Executive Committee the authority to craft a resolution to put on the agenda of the Berlin Town Meeting in March, and to decide how to best promote it. Merry Shernock has been working with Selectboard member Jeremy Hansen to come up with ways to be more involved in Berlin, and she has been leading the struggle to figure out the best strategies for tax relief. Our meeting talked about the potential for this struggle to take more than one year, as we spread the word and get more recognized as part of the community.
A great help for the Grange would be more contacts in the Town of Berlin. Do you live there? Do you know other Grange users who do? Contact Merry using the phone number and email you’ll find a the top of these Notes.
I’m sure we will be talking more about this question–join us for these important discussions at the meeting, or on the Grange Facebook page–don’t forget to “Like” the Grange there to get all the news as it happens!
Support the Capital City Grange While Enjoying Fresh, Local Food and Natural Products at Wholesales Prices.
With the help of Wholeshare, we’ve started a bulk food buying group out of the Grange as a service to the community and as way to support the efforts of the Grange. 5% of every order supports the Grange! Click here to join –http://www.wholeshare.com/join/5182?v=CapitalCityGrange.
The mission of Wholeshare is to help communities increase their economic and geographic access to local and sustainable foods without putting downward pressure on farmers. By buying together the groups then have access to the wholesale prices. Products include fresh produce, meat, cheese, grains, etc from VT based Black River Produce, as well as Honest Green for dry goods and other natural household, etc type products. Prices are cheaper because you are purchasing directly from the distributor. After the first order we can looking to adding additional local producers to the online catalog.
5% of ever order goes to support the efforts of the Grange – Click here –http://www.wholeshare.com/join/5182?v=CapitalCityGrange
How to help
A) Join our Group
1) Sign up for the group at: http://www.wholeshare.com/join/5182?v=CapitalCityGrange
2) Order what you want – produce, meats, grains, other natural soaps and cleaning products, etc. Prices are cheaper because you are purchasing directly from the distributor.
3) Pay online
4) Pick up your order at the dance or make other arrangements.
Grange receives 5% of the total order for being the drop-off point
*** No delivery fee. subscription fee, membership fee or requirement to order. Order when you want and as often as your want.
***Low total minimum – Each group order – everybody combined – not just you – has to reach $125 for products distributed by Vermont-based Black River Produce – they even have Rhapsody BBQ Tempeh! and $230 for cleaning and other natural products from Honest Green.
B) Help Coordinate and/or Publicize the Effort
We will need someone who lives near the Grange to be present when the order arrives and to assist with the distribution.
Please share this url on Facebook and send it out to your local Front Porch Forum – http://www.wholeshare.com/join/5182?v=CapitalCityGrange
C) Start your own group and support the Grange
You can also start your own group among your own friends and members of your community and you and the Grange will both receive a credit after you place your first order. Start your own group with this link: http://www.wholeshare.com/?utm_referrer=capitalcitygrange
Patty Giavara put together much of the content for the site, working closely with Rob to configure the choices. One of the features we’re most pleased to have is our Paypal link, to make donations to the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall. Make sure you get your tax-deductible donations in before the end of the year! You’ll see the “Donate” button on many pages on the website, so it’s easy to find!
Long-time volunteer Tova Cohen has been happy to work with this new “WordPress” site, as she continues to update the CDU dances on the Calendar page. Now it’s easier to update, and easier to see the information. She can put in photos of callers and bands, too! And the Calendar can exported to other web-based calendars: GoogleCal, Apple iCal and other apps.
New Grange rental agent Merry Shernock has posted flyers about renting the Grange for special events, and for trainings and seminars. Spread the word to everyone you know!
The website also features pages about the Grange and its history, about all the different kinds of dance and other events held at the Hall, and more–there are even videos! Check them all out at: http://www.capitalcitygrange.
As everyone should know by now, the Friends of the Capital City Grange have ambitious plans to improve our basement level. After lots of planning and work, our grant application to the “Cultural Facilities Coalition” was approved in August, pledging 50% of the funding for our project. Other grants we’ve received, and generous donations from members of the Grange and dance communities have gotten a good start to the “matching funds” we need to go with the big grant. We’ve just gotten approval of a no-interest “bridge loan” from the VT State Grange to finance the construction until we get the project completed–because we don’t get the big grant until the work is successfully completed.
New bathrooms are the most obvious amenity of the updated basement, and will be a big improvement–a bigger space with 4 uni-sex private stalls, a spacious shared hand-washing space with a new water-fountain, plus a separate ADA “accessible” bathroom. That part of the project is planned for next spring, assuming the fundraising goals are met–see the article about the updated website for a link to donate directly!
The FCCGH decided that there was no reason to wait to get started with the other parts of the project, so we hired John Mallery to rebuild the fire exits from the basement. The picture below right shows the re-worked fire exit stairs at the NW corner of the building, which lead to a ground-level fire exit door. We have new storage space upstairs over the fire stairs. We have a new “vestibule” around the stairs which go from the lower level to the main Hall. And we’ve gotten preliminary approval from the Fire Marshal for an improvement in our basement level occupancy from 49 to 100–and expect a bit more soon, when he finishes his calculations. All of these are important steps forward to making us an attractive space for community use!