Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) May 3, 2023
May Grange meeting: this Saturday, 4:30 to 6:00
What’s next for our Grange?
- Completed: the Lift project, including not only the functioning platform/wheelchair lift, and the fire-safety improvements which were required by the Fire Marshal.
- Property tax exemption from the Town of Berlin: supported by the voters for the next 5 years.
- Hall rentals: growing, which in turn has helped us to start recovering from the COVID pandemic’s financial losses.
- Exterior painting: the FCCGH located, applied for, and has been approved for a grant to help pay for professional scraping and painting of the exterior of the Grange Hall. Schedule TBD
All of these accomplishments mean that we are getting the Grange Hall, our major asset as a community service organization, into a state of good repair, attractive and much more functional than it used to be. We’ve also made it much more energy efficient, reducing our financial costs–and our carbon footprint–significantly. We have much to be proud of, and those of us who have worked hard to get here have been getting many expressions of thanks!
All of these accomplishments give us an opportunity to step back and congratulate ourselves–and to think about the future of the Capital City Grange. Many of us who have been the most active and have put in a lot of time have been doing this work for a lot of years; during that time we have also lost some of our most hard-working members, some of whom have moved, some have passed away, and some have gone on to other opportunities. The pool of people who really know how the Grange operates has been getting smaller, and some of us are ready to pass on some of our responsibilities to new folks, while still being involved in more focused ways.
It seems to me–and others–that this is a very good time to invite more people to join us in the Grange and the Grange community as active parts of the organization. We’ve made a lot of improvements, and weathered the worst of the pandemic years, and we’re currently doing better than holding our own financially. New folks who want to step forward to help run the Grange can do so without taking on the burden of an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that has often felt on the brink of disaster. Many of us now feel that our next challenges will be figuring out how to use our new (relative) strength to become a stronger, more solidly based team.
Along with bringing in new people, this is also an opportunity for looking at what we want to do next. What else is there for our organization to do? How can we better recruit volunteers to take part in projects–and even better, how can we make space for new people who have new ideas?
All of these ideas are up for discussion at the Grange meeting this Saturday. We’ll review the current situation, and do some brainstorming about ways to get more of the people who recognize our Grange Hall as a vital part of Central Vermont to join us, and how to reach out to other people who don’t yet know about the Grange and what we do. We’re not going to figure this out in one meeting, of course, but it’s time to get this conversation started. Please join us–if you’ve been interested in taking on more responsibilities, if you want to know about what that means, and if you think we’ve been ignoring opportunities, we want to hear about all of those ideas.
We have one more significant decision to make at the upcoming meeting: driveway and parking lot maintenance has been put off during the pandemic and the resulting financial insecurities. We have a quote for the needed grading, adding fill, etc. and will be discussing this decision at the meeting as well.
Are there any webmasters out there?
One specific need we have is for help with managing our website. I have been having problems with several issues, which I’m certainly not trained to handle, on our WordPress website. I will be happy share the specifics of the problems I have had recently with someone who is willing to take on some “consultant” responsibilities. Please contact me by replying to these Grange Notes, or call me at 802-225-8921.
Coming up at the end of August: Champlain Valley Expo
As we have done the past couple of years, we’d like to put up an exhibit about our Grange and what we do here as part of the VT State Grange display at the CVE, which will run from Aug. 25 to Sept. 3. I have made the exhibits the last couple of years, and would love to have someone else put in some new ideas. We will still have the monitor and laptop available, which I used to show a “slideshow” of Grange activities for the 2022 CVE exhibit. We can provide a tri-fold, pictures, and lots more–I have lots of material, I just want to have at least a collaborator to help generate new ideas.
I hope to discuss this at the Grange meeting on May 6th as well, please join in the discussion, in person or via Zoom!
After the meeting, it’s Potluck Time!
From 6:00 to about 7:30, join us in the Lower Level for a social dinner. The Lower Level is now accessible for everyone, thanks to completion of the lift, which allows anyone who has difficulty with stairs to get a ride down and up. This goes for anyone using a wheelchair, a walker or just having problems with stairs.
As usual, we expect a great spread of interesting dishes! We welcome everyone who comes–bring something special you cooked up that you like to share, or something tasty you picked up on the way to the Grange Hall! Dishes can be heated up in the Grange kitchen on our two gas ranges, or kept cold in the refrigerator until dinner time.
See the picture from a previous Grange Potluck happening downstairs; you can see a diversity of dishes and a happy crowd of eaters!
Almost complete: our big project
The last time I sent out a Grange Notes email, on March 29th, I said that we were still working on the final details of the “non-lift” work in our project. I’m pleased to say that this work is at this point, “almost complete”. Like so many construction projects, the final details have dragged on. By the time of the meeting, everything inside will be done. The only outdoor piece left to do is to correct the concrete pad at the bottom of the access ramp, which has sunk several inches at the edge that adjoins the foundation–see the photo.
There are also pictures of other parts that are now completed: the panic bar hardware with latches top & bottom, magnetic hold-opens attached to smoke detectors, the new pipe railings around the original entrance porch, new wood handrails for the stairs on that entrance, new triangular shelves in the closet next to the door closet, new wall-hung trash & recycling containers inside the Main Hall, the new closet for the Church of Christ, on the stage, painted and complete with doors, and new shelves in the Grange closet, which are awaiting filling with at least some of the items taken up to the attic for storage during the construction.
If you want to make the Hall look even better, and have some experience painting, we’d be happy to have you continue the new paint in the foyer of the original entrance down the stairs to the lower level. If you check it out next time you visit the Grange Hall, you’ll see why this will be a nice facelift!
I do want to thank the volunteers that have stepped up to help with painting thus far: Merry Shernock, who primed the Grange Closet, Cynthia Haviland, who painted the closet (with assistance from Patty Giavara), Alison Forrest who did the cutting in for the foyer painting, and Patty Giavara again, who primed and painted the new pipe railings.
I also want to thank Kurt Giavara, who custom-milled and shaped the maple threshold for the new double-doors, once we discovered that we needed one for the panic-bar latches. It’s visible in the photo of the doors.
Please note: the floor of the foyer for the original entrance must be kept clear of all items, per order of the Fire Marshal. Trash and recycling containers have been replaced with the wall-hung bins pictured below, cones and snow shovels (in season) will be stored on the porch, and people should be changing shoes/boots for dance events in the Lower Level. If it’s necessary to store footwear upstairs, the triangular shelves can be used, or they can be left on top of a mat. The clear foyer space is required to avoid any interference with people needing to get out quickly in case of a fire or other emergency. While we certainly don’t expect anything like that to happen, we need to follow the Fire Marshal’s directives to improve safety for that possibility.
Soon to be replaced: our sinking concrete pad
As mentioned above, the concrete pad at the base of our ramp for ADA access to the Grange Hall has sunk at the back edge, since being poured when the ramp and the ADA entrance were built in 2008. We have a contractor scheduled to replace the concrete with a new pad, which will be pinned to the poured-concrete building foundation, and to the bottom of the wooden ramp. We expect that these measures should prevent a repeat of the tilting we’ve experienced.
Charles Martin–continuing to get better, and still appreciating the cards!
Charles is not expecting to make it to the Grange Meeting & potluck on Saturday–but will in the future. And he especially asked me to pass on his thanks for the “get-well” cards he has received from quite a few people. Since he’s not getting out much, he relishes hearing from his many Grange and other friends. Please send them to:
639 Minister Brook Rd.
Worcester, VT 05682
Affordable Heat Act: heading for the Governor’s desk
Our last meeting, on April 1st, featured a “Community Program”, with Senator Anne Watson and John Brabant of Vermonters for a Clean Environment discussing S.5, the “Affordable Heat Act” bill. this bill has now passed both the Senate and the House, and is now waiting for Gov. Scott to sign or (more likely) veto. This proposed bill is a major attempt to change the market for heating fuels for Vermont buildings–and is still quite controversial.
If you want to see the discussion at our Community Program from April 1st, the recording of the Zoom is posted on the Grange website Calendar listing.
Please note also that this discussion took place after the bill was passed by the House, but before it was amended and passed by the Senate, and further updated by a conference committee. Current information about the bill is available on the Vermont.gov website Bill Status page for S.5.
Door prizes? Or…prize doors!
I posted the same pictures in my last Grange Notes, and got one nibble each on both of the door offerings–but no takers in the end. We really need to get these out of their current storage spot in the Lower Level alcove, so please consider how useful and beautiful these could be in your house–or barn, or shed, or even chicken coop!
If these doors look familiar, there’s a good reason. These are the original double-doors we’ve recently replaced. Made from plywood panels with applied wooden frames. We also have the original jambs and door closers, ready to use. The doors are big–36″ wide by about 82″ tall.
Available for a donation to the Grange! We’d hate to throw these out, and would love to have them go to a home connected to the Grange.
But wait, there’s more! See the picture below for the former door and jamb which used to be the entry to the ADA bathroom, which we also had to replace with a fire-rated door and jamb. Complete with hinges, with a privacy doorknob and latch, this is a solid-core door, good for acoustic privacy. Also available for a donation!
Interested in either of these great deals? Contact the usual Tim at email@example.com or 802-225-8921. We’ll help you load them onto your roof-rack or truck.