Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), December 1, 2020
No surprise: the 2nd wave of COVID is hitting the Grange, as it is everywhere
Just as when we closed the Hall in mid-March, our long-term renters (the few who were still meeting) have been very understanding about the public health needs which led to this.
The last Grange Notes I sent out reported on the State Grange session, held on Oct. 18th–we were very lucky that it was scheduled then, as it would be completely impossible now. There is no record of any cases resulting from the meeting–the State Grange kept contact-tracing info on all attendees.
So: what happens next? The next Grange meeting, this Saturday, Dec. 5th at 4:30 will be solely by Zoom, as we did in the spring (see the info below). We will continue to monitor the changing health situation in Vermont, and in the rest of the country, and to follow VT guidelines to reduce risks as much as possible.
As everyone probably knows, since March we have greatly reduced income due to the Coronavirus restrictions. We are humbled by the number of and value of donations which Grange community members have given to us to help us survive this unprecedented crisis. See below for info on the current fundraising drive by the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall!
December 5th meeting & program: back to virtual
As described above, we have closed the Hall to all get-togethers, so we are giving up on the “hybrid” meetings we’ve used for the past few months.
As usual in even-numbered months, we will have a brief Grange meeting from 4:30 to 5:00 PM on Saturday, via Zoom.
And from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, we’ll have a Grange program, presented by our Lecturer, Carl Etnier. This month,Carl is stepping forward to report on “How Central Vermont Confronted–and was Confronted by–the Pandemic”. Here’s Carl’s description:
Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall…
Every year, the FCCGH sends an appeal letter to people who have contributed before, and anyone else we can think of who might be able to donate to this non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. As you can probably tell, donations you make are tax-deductible, to the maximum provided by law!
If the Friends don’t have you on the mailing list for the appeal, please send an email to me, or direct to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to send one out! Or–you can make a donation online, anytime, at: http://capitalcitygrange.org/
This fundraiser will build on the success of the online concert with Pete’s Posse, which the Contra Dance Umbrella sponsored in September. That raised about $5,300! If the Friends can meet their goal of $4,000 more, they will sponsor another online concert, on January 23, 2021, featuring The Turning Stile–the duo of Joanne Garton and Aaron Marcus, joined by talented guest artists!
We can get through this together, pooling our resources to keep the Grange and the Hall going as the vital community resources which they have been for so many years.
November meeting report:
We had a good discussion of the then-current status of the Grange Hall rentals, best ways to manage costs during the coming winter, and our current financial status. We have been doing OK for the past several months, with greatly reduced rentals. The lower costs of summer and early autumn have helped us–but the calendar tells us that won’t last forever. We have arranged with our snow-plowing/sanding contractor (SR-Services of Montpelier) to plow only the driveway and a small area around the Hall, to provide access for emergency vehicles–of course we hope that is not needed, but it’s prudent to prepare for worst case scenarios.
We gratefully acknowledged the unexpected generous payment which the VT State Grange made for use of the Hall for the State Session in October. We were quite willing to donate the use, especially since the VT State Grange has helped us by providing no-interest construction loans for large projects, but the VSG chose to send us $500 as a donation! We will use it wisely!
We also passed a couple of motions: one to authorize loaning of Grange items like plastic plates, folding tables, etc. to non-profit, non-partisan local organizations, when deemed appropriate. The other is to allow our volunteer Grange Rental Agent, Merry Shernock to pay a limited amount for occasional cleaning services, while we are not paying for regular cleanings.
We also had a good discussion of how we can request the extension of the 5-year exemption from property taxes by the Town of Berlin. Our current exemption was voted on at the Town Meeting in March, 2016, and needs to be renewed in 2021, to help us survive. The exemption removed the burden of (then) about $7,000 we paid annually in property tax. During this time, we have been able to invest in many improvements in our Grange Hall, as well as keeping solvent in our annual budgeting, while providing low rental rates for the great range of cultural, personal and community events which uses our Hall. We have also provided more than the 2 “Free Rentals” per month,for Berlin residents and organizations, which we promised when we asked for the exemption. Berlin is still figuring out what “Town Meeting 2021” will look like, given that pandemic-based safety precautions will certainly be in place. We will keep in touch as information becomes more clear.
We enjoyed having input from a guest: Linda Sanderson of the Milton VT Grange joined us(via Zoom) at the invitation of Merry. She told us about the arrangement their Grange has used: their Hall is leased to the Town of Milton for $1.00 per year. The Town covers the expenses, and subleases the Hall for a variety of uses. The Grange is allowed free use for meetings and fundraising events. To see pictures and more info, see the Milton Town website page. It is always interesting to see how other organizations manage similar problems. Milton’s Grange has the same problems of low numbers of active Grange members that we and many other Granges experience. Linda has been active in the State Grange for many years, as well as her local Milton Grange, and has served in several VT State Grange offices.