Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) August 10, 2022
UVM professor and (formerly) globe-trotting concert pianist David Feuerzeig has sworn off long-distance traveling to play: he’s now traveling throughout the state in his solar-powered electric vehicle, and playing concerts in…every town in VT. We are pleased to be the venue for the Town of Berlin’s concert, and we’ve gotten the piano tuned in readiness.
David is including local performers in each of his concerts. For “our” concert he will be playing piano 4 hands with a Berlin pianist, Sylvia Parker, including selections from the “Mikrocosmos” written by Bela Bartok. The program notes mention that the composer spent a month in Berlin in 1941! Recently arrived Berlin resident Grace Chris will also join David for vocal selections. He will also play solo piano works, including his own “Double Suite” interweaving Bach’s Partita #1 with ragtime and other American vernacular dance pieces. It will be a concert filled with variety of styles and tempos, so there will be something for everyone.
There is much more information about David Feuerzeig and the Play Every Town project on the website for the project, including note, photos and videos from the already-completed concerts. Check it out!
PS: if you’re puzzled by why “251” is crossed out and replaced by “252”, you may have missed the July 1st secession of Essex Jct. from Essex Town, to become Vermont’s 10th official City.
Champlain Valley Fair–we’re going to be there again! And we need some help!
Pictured below is the display we put together for last year’s Capital City Grange entry in the VT State Grange display area. While we won a 3rd Place ribbon in the competition, we’d like to improve our presentation. Besides the pictures of Grange activities, we’d like to include a slideshow of images, plus even a video to be shown on a display monitor. Generous Grange member Charles Mayhood has offered to loan us a 29″ monitor, and we can use the laptop I purchased for Grange use to run it.
What we could really use is someone who has put together this sort of digital display, and could even make a “video tour” of our beautiful Grange Hall. We have a DVD video version of an 8mm film that was made while the Hall was being built in 1951/52 that could be integrated. My computer skills are not up to doing all of this! I can provide lots of pictures (you’ve seen many of them in the Grange Notes of the past), and am happy to work with someone with the computer skills to make this an impressive compilation of images. If we can add captions to the photos, that will really help–and yours truly has no experience in this work. Please email me at this link: Tim Swartz if you can help out!
The display needs to be ready for setup by August 26th; the CVF will be open from that afternoon through Sept. 4th. We also need to help staff the VT Grange display area, to welcome visitors who want to get an idea about what a Grange is, and what they do. Please email me if you would like to staff a shift during that time–you get free admission and free parking as well! There are lots of other things to look at and take part in at the fair–learn more at: champlainvalleyfair.org.
After about 30 years of service as Secretary for the Capital City Grange, our good friend Charles Martin has finally decided to hang up his laptop, and retire from this office. We thank him for all he has done for us and for the Worcester “North Branch” Grange (where he has been Master for a long time) and for the VT State Grange (where he has served as Home Ec director and trustee for the Grange Building at the Eastern States Exposition, among many other things), and for the Town of Worcester where he and Richard DaCosta have kept the community free meals going for years. As you can tell, he deserves some time off!
You’ll be glad to know that we are not looking for someone to fill all those pairs of shoes. We will, though, need someone to fill the office of Secretary for our Grange. Duties include recording minutes of Grange meetings, maintaining membership records, and sending reports to the State Grange. Increasingly, this work is being done electronically. This is an office that we need to fill–it’s not an “optional” one. We’ll be holding elections for all the offices in the Grange at our September meeting (Saturday, Sept. 17th–save it on your Calendars), so please help us out. If you are not yet a member, we will welcome you into the Grange with open arms, especially if you are willing to take on this responsibility.
We get a lot of compliments on how the Grange and the Hall have stayed active and engaged, and improving our community service over the years. This will be a chance for you to contribute–beyond paying membership dues or giving to fundraising drives. The pay is not great–but the rewards are big, We’ll help you learn what needs to be done. Please contact me, Tim Swartz via email (click the link), or by phone at 802-225-8921.
Berlin Tax Update
I’m sorry to report that we are dealing with a return to defending the exemption from property tax exemption that Berlin Town voters have supported since 2016. I won’t recap the whole history, but I will remind readers that on the Town Ballot voted on March 1st of this year, voters approved an Article we submitted, asking for “full exemption from property taxes” for the 2022 tax year. We asked for this relief in recognition of our mission of (unpaid) community service to the Central Vermont region, and our provision of free use of the Grange Hall for Berlin residents and non-profit organizations. Voters supported us, saying YES by a 4 to 1 margin.
As you can probably imagine, we were taken aback to receive a bill for property taxes in July. According to the bill, the Town believes that we are still liable for Education tax payments, that we are only exempt from the Municipal portion of the property tax. The Selectboard has made this ruling, which we were not notified about until the tax bill arrived. The $5,710 tax payment would use up a large portion of our “rainy day” savings–the money we save to deal with unexpected expenses (like the demise of our furnace in March), as well as helping with major improvements to the Hall–like the basement renovation completed in 2020, or the platform lift we hope to install this winter, or dealing with the deteriorating paint on our siding–building essentials.
I will be meeting with the Selectboard on Monday, August 15th to discuss this, and to attempt to change their minds about their decision to continue to tax us, despite the voters’ expressed will. We would very much like to get help from someone with legal knowledge about town governance and taxation–if you are such a person, or know someone, please get in touch with us ASAP.
VFO for VFG
On July 9th, the VT State Grange celebrated its 150th anniversary at the VSG Grange Center in Brookfield. The VT Fiddle Orchestra played on the porch of the “Winter Building” there, in fact there were so many of them that they spilled onto the grass! Susan Reid (in the photo below, visible in the green wrap in the front center) led them in a wonderful variety of tunes, garnering applause and appreciation from the VT State Grange members who attended.
Following the music, a number of speakers, including the National Grange President, the VT State Grange Master and past State Masters from other New England states spoke about the history of the VT Grange. Later, many participants took part in the contests–throwing a rolling pin and a cast-iron frying pan (both thrown by all players), and admired a collection of Grange memorabilia, followed (of course) by a tasty dinner. It was a lot cooler that day than many since!
The “Challenge Fundraiser” is on–and that means Rob’s plant sales are too!
- Matching funds for a platform lift, to allow people with mobility difficulties, or using wheelchairs to have full access to the stage and lower levels of the Grange–we are waiting for news on our grant application for this project!
- Making Fire Marshal-required Hall improvements, like fire doors between the Main Hall and the Old Entrance foyer.
- Dealing with the deteriorating paint on our siding–we’re exploring alternatives to help the outside look better.
- Installing fresh-air ventilation for the Hall, to keep the air cleaner and to reduce CO2 buildup inside.
For a full list of projects the Friends have worked on, and to donate via Paypal, please visit the Donate page on the Grange website.
Another great way to donate to the fundraiser, and to get a beautiful green (or multicolored) souvenir for your gift is to purchase one of the lovely plants raised for this purpose by Rob Nichols, a long-time supporter of the Grange, emeritus member of the Montpelier Contra Dance committee, and expert gardener. Rob will bring a selection of plants to the Grange Hall on Montpelier Contra Dance nights during the fundraiser (August 20th and September 3rd), but his plants will also be available at Farmhouse Flowers, in Moretown on Rt. 100B. We appreciate Farmhouse Flowers helping the Grange in this way–proceeds from the plant sales go to this fundraiser! For directions and more info about them, click the link! And see below for a Pete’s Posse Reunion Concert there!
To celebrate the Challenge Fundraiser, Pete’s Posse will play their farewell event at the Grange!
Vermont music-lovers, including many contra dancers have enjoyed the music of Pete’s Posse for many years. We are sorry to announce that the Posse will soon be no more–but very honored that they are willing to play their last gig for the Montpelier Contra Dance on Saturday, Sept. 3rd.
The Posse, shown below playing when the Contra Dance had a musical “float” in the July 3rd Montpelier Parade (with a troupe of intrepid dancers following), consists of Oliver Scanlon, Pete Sutherland and Tristan Henderson. Pete and Oliver continue to perform together, but since Tristan has moved to Canada, the Trio has–unfortunately for music lovers–come to an end.
But! Don’t miss their Reunion Concert on Friday evening, Sept. 2 at Farmhouse Flowers (see above), and on Saturday evening their Contra Dance Reunion for the Montpelier Contra Dance with Nils Fredland calling! This will be the celebratory final event for the Challenge Fundraiser, when we hope to go “over the top” to meet our goal! It will also be the Farewell event for the Posse, long-time supporters of the Grange and the Montpelier Contra Dance.