Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) December 28, 2022
The holiday storm knocked out our power, but no harm done
We know that many people lost power in the storm of Thursday and Friday of last week, and have suffered much more than the Grange Hall. We are grateful that our good insulation, and the water-management we have done has kept any damage from happening to the Hall.
The Grange’s power went out around 1:00 PM on Friday, 12/23, and was not restored until Saturday mid-afternoon. On Friday I got a notification that the Grange Wi-Fi was down, and knew that was likely the power going off. I visited the Hall early on Saturday morning, and was very pleased to find that the temperature in the upstairs Hall was still 50 degrees. I was at least equally relieved to find that no sign of water coming in to the lower level was visible. Clearly, our 2020 project to put in drainage in the lower level, plus installing very good insulation and air-sealing there paid off–the large amount of rain on frozen ground, which in past years meant that many gallons of water came in, did not cause any problems.
After finding out that the power was back on, I went back and found that the heat was back on, the Wi-Fi working, and all was good. The only “repair” I had to make was to re-set the timer which turns the roadside sign lights on before dusk.
We hope that all of our many Grange members and friends will have their power back on, if it hasn’t happened yet!
Berlin signatures: submitted and approved!
On Tuesday, 12/20, I was able to deliver 171 signatures on the petition forms to the office of the Berlin Town Clerk. After the office checked them, I was told on Thursday that we had “significantly more” verified signatures than the requirement, so we are on the ballot for the March 1, 2023 Town Meeting!
As we get closer, we’ll be appealing for as many Berlin residents as possible to attend the Town Meeting, as there will be discussion and a vote there on extending our full exemption from property taxes for 5 years! I will also be attending the informational pre-Town Meeting to answer questions and discuss with any interested folks.
Thanks to the Grange members and Grange Hall users who helped us get all those signatures! We couldn’t do it without you!
Getting ready for construction!
- After the KT&P bins of clothes/shoes/toys/books were set out on Dec. 9th, volunteers moved the 8′ long metal & particle-board shelves into the “alcove” area of the Lower Level. In the top picture, new volunteer Prince plus long-time volunteers Sue & John Morris and yours truly carefully pick up one of the shelf units.
- Moving the shelves out of their former home behind a partition wall leaves space for where the bottom of the lift “hoistway” will be installed.
- The relocated shelves were filled up with the KT&P bins after the 12/10 edition. This will be their temporary home until they can be moved to a new location once the lift is in place
- And we received the building permit for the project from the State Fire Marshal’s office! Assistant Fire Marshal Stan Baranowski has worked with us to make sure we follow safety rules and building code requirements. We have consistently found that conferring early with the Fire Marshals has made our projects better, and avoided later problems.
- Licensed electricians ARJ Electric have started re-routing wiring this week, to make it easy for…
- Carpentry contractor Stan Carlson to begin building the hoistway on Jan. 2nd!
- Outside of Stan’s construction hours (8 AM to 5 PM, M-F) the site will be secured, with plywood blocking access, so that evening and weekend events can proceed safely.
- The platform lift parts are in the warehouse of the local dealer/installer, ready to be installed when the hoistway is ready.
- Stan has made a “mockup” of the raised railings required by the Fire Marshal around the “Old Entrance” porch; we will need to decide on just how to meet the requirement.
- We will post updates periodically!
Helping families get happy with our first “Family Weekend” events!
On Saturday, 12/10, Kids Trade & Play drew almost 90 people (kids & adults), who happily left with clothing, shoes, books and re-giftable toys. This every-2nd-Saturday is a well-established event on parents’ (and grandparents’) calendars, with new folks coming every time as well. Because organizer Erin Barry and her crew of volunteers have kept this clothing exchange going through the pandemic, it’s an established pattern. The “shoppers” were entertained by the Green Mountain Youth Symphony’s last rehearsal before their concert on Dec. 11th.
The next KT&P will happen on Saturday, Jan. 14, put it on your calendar!
The next DS&JA will be on Sunday, Jan. 8. Music will be provided by the Northeast Fiddler’s Jam Session that is happening on (usually) the first Sunday afternoon of each month–it’s on the 2nd Sunday this time around. They will be joined by Joanne Garton and her fiddle students as well, so we’ll have a Big Band Sound! Come to play along, or at least bring a kid and enjoy the dancing yourself!
November Grange meeting report: Posted!
In the last Grange Notes, I posted a brief report of the program presented by Liz Medina, Executive Director of the VT Labor Council, AFL-CIO. I’ve now posted a more complete set of notes, plus posting a Zoom recording of Liz’s PowerPoint presentation and the discussion on the Grange website, on the 12/3/22 Calendar listing for the program. Check them out when you get a chance!
End of the year donations: we’re grateful!
Grange Notes readers probably know that every year, the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall sends out a “Fall Appeal” to support their work helping the Grange. Working closely and cooperatively with the Grange organization, the Friends have been a vital part of making major improvements in the Grange Hall–including the 2020 project of water-mitigation and insulation that protected our Hall during the recent power outage described above. The FCCGH has received quite a few donations in this year’s appeal, and we’re really grateful! Seeing how many people support us makes it clear that keeping this place going is important to a lot of folks, and inspires us all to keep working on the projects.
If you can help the FCCGH to help the Grange Hall, we’ll use the money wisely! To see the Fall Appeal letter sent out by the Friends, click here. It also describes our “Project Uplift” to install a wheelchair/platform lift in the Hall. We appreciate any gift, of whatever size fits your budget! And donations to the FCCGH, which is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit, are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law; you’ll receive a thank-you and a record for your contribution. You can see descriptions of previous FCCGH projects, and donate via Paypal on the Donate page of the Grange website.
Thanks to everyone who is “giving us a lift” this year!
We’re in the Blog!
Back in October, Efficiency Vermont contacted us to see if we would help them write an article about our installation of a pellet furnace last spring, which has been working well this winter. We received a $3,000 rebate from EVT, and another $3,000 rebate from their sister organization, the Clean Energy Development Fund, for the pellet tank. Combined with a low-interest loan from the VT State Grange, and a substantial anonymous donation, we were able to afford to pay the higher cost of the pellet boiler, compared to replacing the old oil furnace with a newer one. This means that not only did we substantially reduce our carbon footprint, we are also freed from the volatile price spikes of heating oil.
You can read the article here, on EVT’s website blog. We’re happy to support EVT in its mission of supporting efficiency increases and fossil fuel use reductions in our state. And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to use a picture taken by their professional photographer! It shows Patty Giavara, chair of the FCCGH, and me. Patty and her husband Kurt Giavara worked closely with me to research our options, virtually meet with EVT’s consultant, and make the recommendation to the Grange meeting that approved the new furnace investment.