Annis Receives Award

GUILFORD — An area Grange member who has been dedicated to the organization at the local and state levels, served the region in the Maine Legislature and in local government and has given back to the community in many other ways was honored by Piscataquis Pomona — the local Grange district — on June 4. Jim Annis of Dover-Foxcroft received the Piscataquis Pomona Award for Public Service as part of the monthly Piscataquis Pomona gathering held at the Valley Grange.

Piscataquis Pomona Overseer/Maine State Grange Communications Director Walter Boomsma said the honor is being bestowed upon Annis “for personal commitment and involvement as a servant to the public.” He added, “It is a real honor and pleasure to give you this Jim.”

Pomona Grange Overseer Walter Boomsma presents Public Service Award to Jim Annis

Annis was also presented with a Legislative from the area’s Augusta delegation, Rep. Norm Higgins, I-Dover-Foxcroft, Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford and Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville. 

“Jim we all know has been a dutiful public servant and has served in many, many rolls,” Stearns said. He said he worked with Annis on the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council board and Annis always “does the right thing, for the right reason.”

Higgins said he and his wife have sat behind Annis and his wife Mary (a fellow Grange member) at Dover-Foxcroft Congregational Church services for many years. “Jim leads by example, he quietly demonstrates that. 

“For me it has always been your religious life that has always been the outstanding example for my wife and I,” Higgins said.

Davis said he and Annis campaigned together in years past and “I say we’re friends for life.” 

“Jim worked hard when he was in the Legislature, he was there every day,” Davis said. He said Annis is dedicated “not only to Grange, but to Dover-Foxcroft, Piscataquis County and the State of Maine.”

Annis, who first learned of the award during the pre-meeting supper, recently stepped down as legislative director of the Maine State Grange. Those present were reminded about some of Annis’ other community endeavors including the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society and serving as a Piscataquis County commissioner. 

Past Maine State Master Steve Verrill said he appointed Annis to the state legislative committee, where he served for about a decade. Verrill said Annis “was a big asset to the committee and if we had any resolutions we needed someone to sponsor them in the Legislature he always took care of that.”

“We want to thank you for all you have done for the Grange and you are not done,” Verrill said.

Mary Annis spoke next and she said, “I am very supportive in all he does going back to when we were first married and he gets involved in the board of education in Wallingford, Connecticut.” 

“It’s been fun and we have met a lot of wonderful people along the way,” she added.

“You have been a great master for the Valley Grange and what you have heard tonight is true,” Boomsma said.

“I started off as a PTA president and cub master at the same time and from there it’s just blossomed,” Annis said.

He said after his family moved to Dover-Foxcroft he was asked to run for the Legislature. Following his time in Augusta, Annis said he was asked to serve on the town selectboard and later encouraged to run for a seat on the county commissioners. Annis mentioned he would be 83 by the time his current term as a commissioner comes to an end at the conclusion of the year and had planned to step down from the government seat.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Annis said. “My father said when you take on a problem you give it 100 percent, you don’t slow down.”

Exploring Traditions and Connections

Here you can watch and listen to the discussion between National Grange Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rio and author Walter Boomsma as they explore some of the topics from the book and what they mean to Grangers and Granges today–especially during the current pandemic.

Walter’s book is available from

Time and Date Change

Due to complications arising as a result of the recent storm , the time and date for “Exploring Connections” has changed. Tune in Friday!

Exploring Connections

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, to appear on National Program…

National Grange has started a series of Facebook Live Broadcasts during Grange Month to “cultivate connections in the time of COVID.” The daily broadcasts feature guests and a wide range of topics such as making balloon animals to exploring the future of the Grange as an organization.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, at 6:00 pm, Walter Boomsma, author, and Maine State Grange Communications Director, has been invited to appear and discuss “exploring connections,” based partly on his book, Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.

Boomsma says he’s often a self-appointed cage rattler. “One of my goals in writing the book was to get people thinking about how the Grange–its rituals and traditions–connect to the world today. Too often we get stuck in a backward and inward perspective. We may need to turn our welcome mat around. Instead of thinking ‘Welcome to the Grange,’ we may need to focus on getting out into the world. The Grange way of life works best when we’re in the world, not when we’re in a Grange Hall. That’s as true today as it was 150 years ago.”


Tune in to this Facebook event to get your cage rattled and your mind engaged. If you’re not on Facebook, no problem! The broadcast will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube. We’ll share the link here after the broadcast.

Connect with us!

The Grange Salutation is “A Granger places faith in God, nurtures hope, dispenses charity, and is noted for fidelity.” Now more than ever, we need to connect. We are all in this together. If you agree, connect with us by leaving a comment, contacting any Valley Grange Member, or sending an email!

Valley Grange Places Second in Maine State Grange Community Service Contest!

During the recent Maine State Grange Convention, Valley Grange was awarded a certificate for second place in the Grange’s Community Service Program in Maine. Judging was based on a book prepared and submitted by Mary Annis, Community Service Chairman for Valley Grange.

Film at Eleven!

Valley Grange Dictionary Day with SedoMoCha Third Graders to be featured on WVII ABC 7-Fox 22 News   

Today was Dictionary Day for 75 third graders and their teachers who came to the Valley Grange Hall filled with anticipation. In addition to learning about the Grange, students talked with Captain Jack Battick about the Civil War and how the Grange helped reunite the country when it ended. Program Director Walter Boomsma explained what the Grange does, including what we can learn from the four staves. “When we look at the pruning hook, what are examples of things we might want to prune from our classrooms?” In the course of all this, students encountered some unfamiliar words which necessitated a dictionary. Valley Grange members and bookworms helped distribute dictionaries and the kids, as always, went a little wild with excitement. They not only looked up the unfamiliar words, many searched for their names and other information.

A reporter from WLVI–Fox 22 captured much of the excitement and will air a story about the program tonight on the Six and Eleven O’clock News. The story should also be available on their website tomorrow.

Here is the link to the Piscataquis Observer Story: Valley Grange continues to be the definition of generosity.

Captain Jack Battick talks about the Civil War and the Grange’s role in bringing the country together after it was over.



MPR to Explore the Role of the Grange

Valley Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma will be a featured guest

Maine Calling is a daily program airing on Maine Public Radio that “brings you interesting conversations with interesting people on just about any and all subjects.” Grangers will definitely be interested in the program scheduled to air on Friday, May 3, 2019, at 1 pm. Featuring Walter Boomsma, author of the book, Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life, and Vicki Huff, past master of the Maine State Grange, will be featured studio guests. Several representatives of successful Granges in Maine will also be calling in as will National Grange Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rio.

The program will be aired statewide. For a list of stations, visit the Maine Public Radio Website. The program will be recorded and offered as a podcast. To access the podcast after the program airs or for more information visit the Maine Calling Webpage.

Maine Granger Pens Book on Order

BY LORETTA NIETO
Communication Fellow at National Grange Convention

Signing

Photo by Karie Blasingame

There are many current Grangers who do not have a full understanding of why the Grange participates and carries on the many traditions that it does, therefore, Walter Boomsma wrote the book titled, “Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.”

This book is not a manual expressing how people can become Grangers. However, it is an explanation of the many traditions and rituals that Grangers have practiced for 150 years.

A Granger of 16 years and a communication director of the state of Maine, Boomsma had been writing monthly columns about exploring traditions in the Grange for three years. Then he was presented with the idea of gathering all of the columns he had written and publishing them as a book. In agreement to the idea, Boomsma felt that it was important to revive the understanding of the many rituals and traditions that Grangers participate in because many individuals have lost their understanding within the 150 years of why they do what they do.

“My main example is the ritual of being mindful of when to cross and not cross between the altar and the Graces. Many Grangers do not know why this is a ritual and they follow it because that’s all they have ever known. The reason it is important is because it is a form of respect for women” Boomsma said.

So he decided to expand on what the mission of Grange is, the purposes that Grange was built on and showing readers that the Grange is more than a historical organization. The Grange teaches ways of life and how working through communities makes the world a more efficient place.

In Stowe, Vermont at the National Convention on Wednesday morning Boomsma will be holding a book signing. “The message that I want people to take away after reading my book is that the Grange has a huge opportunity to become more relevant through its rituals” and in order to fulfill becoming more relevant Grangers have to learn that middle ground, consisting of keeping rituals but being comfortable with  transitioning into modern-day styles, Boomsma said. Letting go of the phrase, “that’s the way we have always done it,” is the primary step of moving forward to letting the Grange flourish as an organization.

Maine member releases easy-to-read book ‘Exploring Traditions’ of the Grange

Reprinted from the September 2018 issue of The Patrons Chain–The Official Newsletter of the National Grange


Walter Boomsma, Program Director of Valley Grange and Maine State Grange Communications Director has authored the book, “Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.”

While this is not his first book, Boomsma believes it may be one of his most important.

“The primary goal in writing it was to encourage exploration,” Boomsma said. “The Grange is a 150-year-old organization with a strong agricultural focus and many are questioning its relevance to today’s society. I wanted to encourage people to develop a deeper understanding of what the Grange is all about–including our members. The Grange is very much about a way of life and, while farming has changed, people have not.”

Boomsma said he also believes people who are not familiar with the Grange will appreciate exploring the value of tradition in general since “tradition and ritual create stability and a sense of community, especially when we understand the basis for them.”

Betty Van Dyke accepts the “very first copy” of Exploring Traditions from Walter Boomsma, the author.

National Grange Master Betsy Huber provided a foreward to the book, in which she wrote, “These essays by Walter Boomsma unpack the teachings of the Grange and relate them to today’s world
and our everyday lives. He has a gift for taking the lessons from the farm and showing their relevance today, even for those whose only interaction with agriculture happens through their food and clothing choices. He understands the meaning the Grange Founders intended and interprets the sometimes archaic language to reveal the principles they wanted to teach to farm families who often had no other opportunity for education.“

Boomsma dedicated the book to a woman he affectionately calls a “Granger Extraordinaire,” Betty Van Dyke of Guilford. During a presentation of the first copy of the book, Boomsma said Van
Dyke explained the great influence she had during his “formative years” as a Grange member.

“I came to appreciate both her knowledge of the Grange’s teachings and her commitment to what I later came to understand as ‘the Grange Way of Life.’”

At the height of her Grange career, Van Dyke held a number of local and state positions, including serving as the Maine State Community Service Director. At 94, Van Dyke still keeps track of what’s going on at Valley Grange and is a strong supporter.

Boomsma will sign copies of the book at the 152nd Annual Convention where it will be available for sale. It is also available through the Grange Supply Store. Contact Loretta Washington at sales@nationalgrange.org or by phone at (202) 628-3507 ext. 109.