A Chat with Vicki and Walter

Is it really possible to attend a meeting without being there?

Past State Master and Maine State Grange Treasurer Vicki Huff chats with Piscataquis Pomona Overseer Walter Boomsma

As many know, Vicki was greatly disappointed when she had to cancel her plans to attend our Pomona Picnic. While discussing that, we came up with the idea she could at least share some thoughts with us “virtually.” We always enjoy Vicki’s laugh and positivity! Of course, this isn’t quite the same but it was fun to reminisce and share thoughts and ideas.

More Honors at Valley Grange

During a very “non-traditional” Community Celebration, Valley Grange Secretary Mary Annis announced recent membership recognition awards. Referred as “Golden Sheaf Members,” William Baird, Sherry French, and Joan Wright were all recognized for fifty years of continuous membership. Carolyn Campbell, unfortunately recently passed away just short of her seventieth year of membership.

Somewhat at the opposite end of the membership spectrum, Program Director Walter Boomsma congratulated Kylie Warman “for being the first baby born to a Valley Grange Member in forty two years.” Kylie is the daughter of member Heather Burgess and Charlie Warman. The award was accepted by her great grandmother, Pat Engstrom.\

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.