The photo at the top of this email shows the concrete going into the forms for the new Grange sign. Kurt Giavara (right) supervised setting the “big-foot” type forms the week before; I arranged to get some stainless steel bars to anchor in the concrete along with more commercial post-bases. On Friday the 14th, we had the forms filled with concrete, and placed the stainless bars and dummy “posts” in the concrete, at the correct spacing to match the posts and cherry cross-piece donated by TimberHomes LLC. Dave Cain is preparing the lettering on the cherry piece so that we can erect the parts soon.
Looking for carpentry volunteers to help us put up the posts, and to build and install the small roof for the sign. If there is someone who could bring an 8′ or 10′ stepladder, that would be an extra help! Please contact me if you can help us! As usual I can be reached at 225-8921, or the email address for these Grange Notes.
After the whole sign is up, we’ll have electrician Alana Norway pull wires through the conduits placed during the summer by another crew of volunteers. She’ll also install the fluorescent lights which will illuminate the sign. We’ve decided to put the lights on a timer so they will be on from about dusk to midnight, so our sign will be visible.
Our intent is to increase our recognition, so people will know where our Hall is, and that it is available for rental. The sign will give the website, and the phone number for rentals–see below for a transition in our rental agent. As regular readers will know, we badly need to get more tenants to balance our budget. And providing a Hall for public use is the major community service which our Grange provides.
We’re making the Grange a safer place with our projects to improve the fire exits from the basement level. This re-construction of both exits, funded by the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall, is in response to the requirements of the Fire Marshal. The new stairs and door on the NW corner of the building have been built by contractor John Mallery; he hired a concrete-cutting company to cut through the outside wall of the basement. John has also framed in the new vestibule at the South end of the basement, around the existing stairs. The new door has a magnetic hold-open, so it can be open for foot traffic, but will close automatically if the new smoke/fire detectors are triggered. The sheetrock and painting are done, and the new doors are installed. Electrical work has been roughed-in and must be completed before the Fire Marshal will sign off on the project–and increase our legal capacity in the basement from its current 49, up to at least 100, we expect!
We are still fundraising and arranging financing for the 2nd phase of this project, rebuilding the bathrooms on the basement level. Keep in touch for updates on this part of the project too! And many thanks to the Legislature for funding the “Cultural Facilities” grant which will be paying for 1/2 of this project–once we raise the matching funds we need!
The fire exit at the northwest corner has been completely re-built; the original stairs were too steep and too little headroom; we had to cut through the concrete wall of the basement to make the stairs come out at ground level. You can see the difference from the outline of the old stairs on the wall!
The Fire Marshal required that we build a vestibule with 1-hour fire rated walls and a door, to separate the downstairs and upstairs levels. The new door in the vestibule can be held open with an electro-magnet. If we ever have a fire, the new smoke alarms on either side of the door will make the magnet release to separate the upstairs and downstairs spaces.
I attended the VT State Grange meeting on Saturday, Oct. 18th, along with Merry; Marj Power went on Friday the 17th. We dealt with various resolutions, some of which we discussed during our October Grange business meeting. On Friday, the retiring State Grange Master gave an address that mentioned a controversy involving the National Grange organization and the California Granges. Intrigued by this, Merry has done some investigating, including contacting the Sonoma Valley Grange (www.sonomavalleygrange.com), which she had visited on a trip earlier this year to California. Then, she was interested to find out more about an active Grange whose Hall is a vital part of the community. Now, she was interested to find out more about the issues that led to the National Grange claiming that the California State Grange was illegitimate, and suing to close the State Grange and re-start it.
At our meeting on Nov. 1st, Merry will tell what she has learned about this controversy, and the issues behind it. Come learn about Green Granges, the question of whether Grange Halls should be saved, and more!
Article by Tim Swartz
Join us at our Nov. 1st meeting to make a tax reduction strategy
We’ve talked for years about the burden that our property taxes (over $7,000 per year) place on our budget. About 1/3 of our annual expenses are property taxes paid to Berlin! We’d love to reduce that burden. We’ll be talking about how to reduce or eliminate those at from about 5:30 to 6:30, after our usual business meeting on Nov. 1st. We’d like the expertise and input of our talented membership, and all who want to see our Grange and Hall thrive!
get Berlin to reduce our taxes? As in all towns, the Town Meeting would have to vote to reduce or eliminate our property taxes.
transfer legal ownership to a tax-exempt non-profit? The Grange is a “fraternal organization”–a non-profit which is not automatically exempt from property taxes.
come up with more strategies–and plans to actually pursue them?
We’ve got the permit and we’ve got the posts and crossbar
Our sign project is moving forward really well now. The overall plan is shown at the top of this newsletter–though the text and the sign part dimensions are not yet completely decided. The arched cherry plank shown is about 80″ from end to end (not including the tenons which will go through the posts). There are 2 posts, 5-1/2″ sq. x 12′ long, which we will cut down as needed to match the plans, which have been approved by the Town of Berlin. These parts have been donated by TimberHomes LLC, and we thank them along with all the other volunteers who are making this possible!
Mike Ziegler has volunteered to bring a tractor with a backhoe down from Glover–we’re working on arranging a trailer to do the transporting. This will dig the holes for the concrete footings.
Dave Cain has volunteered to paint our signs–the exact lettering has not been defined, but will be designed to be visible to cars driving by, and to show up clearly under the lights, high-output fluorescent fixtures installed under the small roof at the top.
Kurt Giavara has volunteered to be in charge of the construction–but we will need help to get the job done safely. Assembling the two posts and the crossbar, and hoisting them on top of the concrete footings, and doing that safely will require another 6 or 8 people, to help Kurt and me. Please contact me to put your name on the list to help out!