Valley Grange Celebrates Community and Honors Two

Valley Grange celebrated community with a potluck supper and program on Friday night that seemed to be all about time. The program included some thoughts on the value of five minutes of community service every day. Noting that if every citizen in Piscataquis County between the ages of 20 and 80 gave 5 minutes per day to his or her community, Lecturer Walter Boomsma pointed out ”this would equate to 188 people working full time in our communities–an average of ten per town. Using the median income from 2011, the value of those five minutes would be the equivalent of an annual payroll of over six and a half million dollars per year.” Boomsma also noted “but there’s more than just dollar value, explaining how his association with Valley Grange has allowed him to discover his passion for working with kids–a passion that sees him now substitute teaching at the elementary school level and having his book Small People –Big Brains published recently. “Were it not for my association with Valley Grange, I might not be where I am today,” he admitted.

Mark Putnam, editor of the Observer, “a successful and effective community newspaper is a direct reflection of its community.”

The Grange recognized two news organizations for their community service: local newspaper The Piscataquis Observer, and Bangor-based WABI – TV 5. Both organizations were praised for their “boots on the ground” involvement in local communities and their willingness to work with local organizations such as the Grange. Dover Foxcroft Historical Society President Mary Annis offered testimony and an additional award in acknowledgement of both organizations’ contributions. Representatives from UMaine Extension, Kiwanis, Center Theatre, and other Granges in the area added accolades for both organizations’ local emphasis and their responsiveness to individuals and organizations. Piscataquis Community Elementary School Principal Julie Orton noted that the school genuinely appreciates the recognition students receive for their accomplishments and the kids value that recognition and find it rewarding and motivating.

In his response thanking Valley Grange for the honor, Observer Editor Mark Putnam spoke about how the digital age is changing media, but also noted that “our paper truly belongs to the community” adding “there’s no way we’d be celebrating our 175th Anniversary if that were not true… Much like the Grange, our newspaper wants to be relevant and essential in what will be known as the Digital Age.”

WABI News Anchor Terry Stackhouse noted that there was a certain irony to the fact that he is a “six month employee accepting the award on behalf of a sixty year station.” In reporting the story later, he noted that “everyone was very kind and even sent me home with leftover food.” (You can see his report on the WABI Website. )

As part of the celebration of community, Valley Grange also honored members Herb Dunham for 55 years of Grange Membership and Carolyn Campbell for 65 years of membership.

Observer Staff Mark Putnam, Stu Hedstrom, Jeanette Hughes, Linda Kain, and Keri Foster

We’re Ready for Community Night!

Party 3 (640x464)Well, almost! While this photo doesn’t show it (you’ll have to come see), the stage is painted and looking great! Members are reminded we still have some “primping” to do… and those who can are asked to stop by Friday (17th) afternoon and find a project–sweeping, dusting, setting tables, etc. Our celebration of community begins at 6 PM with a potluck supper… and continues with a 7 PM program that’s sure to please as we honor the Piscataquis Observer and WABI-TV 5 for their service to our communities.

Remember, this is a family friendly event and the price is right–all it “costs” is a few hours of your time! (If you can, bring a dish to share for potluck.) In exchange, you’ll get a great meal, a warm sense of community, some laughs and a chance to see friends old and new.

An audio-visual presentation will surprise you when you discover the value of “Just Five Minutes.” Look for a traffic jam at the corner of Butter Street and Guilford Center Road on Friday-because that’s where Valley Grange is located!

February Pomona Meeting

The February Pomona meeting is now scheduled for Saturday, February 16th at East Sangerville Grange. Members of East Sangerville are providing supper at 6 PM and the meeting to follow at 7 PM will feature Vicky Huff, Maine State Grange Overseer. All area Grange members are encouraged to attend… while supper reservations aren’t required, it will help to have some idea of how many are coming… please contact Bill at 924-3537 or send an email to and let us know! Our complete February schedule will be posted soon…

Christmas Offering…

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Website Getting “Extreme Make-Over”

under_construction_pc_400_clrWell… maybe not THAT extreme… Ironically I’ve been thinking it was time for a “new look” and coincidentally was advised by the folks at WordPress that the theme we’d been using is no longer going to be supported. So we’ll be starting a new year with a new look!

All of the information that was on the site seems to have moved over, but it may not be in exactly the same places! It’ll probably take a few weeks of sorting and “tweaking” before the layout is easy to understand and things are easy to find. In the interim, be a little brave and explore! Be a little patient and let me know if you can’t find something or encounter a link or page that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do!

Also… let me know what you think of this theme… I chose it primarily for its clean look and ease of navigation–like all themes, it has its limitations. Thanks for your patience and understanding…

Piscataquis Pomona Supports Resolution

Piscataquis Pomona members voted unanimously at their September 6th meeting to support the resolution written and submitted by Walter Boomsma, program and publicity director for Valley Grange. Valley Grange members voted unanimously to support the resolution at their August meeting.

The resolution encourages National Grange to develop a policy, procedures, and an awareness campaign regarding the publication of photos and information about children who attend and are involved in Grange activities and events. Boomsma emphasized “there really is no issue or question when we are working with the local schools–policies are very clear and we work together well. This resolution is truly about children who may become involved in a Grange activity not connected to school events or programs.”

Valley Grange Master Jim Annis said he was confident there would be lot of support for a policy “once Grangers are sensitized to the problems and risks associated with publishing information and photos of children.”

The resolution will now be presented to Maine State Grange leaders for consideration by delegates to the State Conference in October. If supported at the state level, the resolution then moves on to the national level for consideration at National Conference in November. Boomsma acknowledged “we might be a long way from having an actual policy, but the very fact the resolution is generating interest and wide support means we are already creating some awareness of the potential problems and liabilities.”

Read the original post explaining this resolution and some resources for further information and consideration.

Read the actual resolution.


Valley Grange Supports Resolution to Protect Child Photos and Info

At their August business meeting, Valley Grange members voted unanimously to support a resolution drafted by Publicity Director Walter Boomsma. The resolution asks the National Grange Organization to create policies, procedures and programs that will guide it’s members “in the distribution of photographs and information concerning children who are involved in or attend Grange programs and functions.” Boomsma notes that the resolution does not suggest a specific policy. “This is an area with some controversy,” he explains, “and I certainly do not have all the answers. This resolution is really just asks for help.”

Boomsma believes an important aspect of this for the Grange is whether or not their meetings and events are considered private or public events. “I’ve always followed the model used by schools in complying with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). I’m oversimplifying a bit, but in practice schools differentiate between “private” (a classroom during normal school hours, for example) and “public” (a sports event at the school) settings. A private setting creates the right to expect privacy and a photo cannot be published without parental consent. Public events do not carry the same restriction because there is no ‘right to an expectation of privacy’ in the public setting.”

Boomsma also is quick to point out that Valley Grange has “never had a problem” with using children’s photographs or information. He attributes this to a “cautious and conservative approach” that emphasizes protecting children and parent’s rights. “If I know a parent would prefer their child not receive publicity I’ll withhold it even if something involving that child happens at a public event.” His concern is, he says, “there are a lot of gray areas… and there are a lot of people throughout the Grange organization handling children’s photographs and information who may not fully recognize the hazards and responsibilties accompanying them–particularly when it comes to the Internet and Social Media where the risks are at least different if not greater. Just having this resolution in the system will at least create discussion.”

The resolution will next be considered on September 6th by the Piscataquis Pomona Grange made up of community Granges in the area. Assuming it receives support, the Maine State Grange will consider it at their State Conference in October. Again, assuming it is supported, it then is considered at National Grange Conference in November.

Read the resolution here.

Some additional resources:

An article published by the NY Times in October 2009 reveals a number of incidents where children were endangered or embarassed as a result of photos online.

About Dot Com provides a short discussion of the risks associated with posting children’s photos online and some links to resources and further reading for parents.

WikiPedia Discussion of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)

WikiPedia Discussion of COPA (Children’s Online Protection Act)

Wikipedia Discussion of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

August Meetings…

Friday, August 17th we’ll have our regular monthly potluck supper (6:00 PM) and meeting (7:00 PM). We’ll be draping the charter in memory of member Paul Curtis, welcoming two new members, and having a six minute lecturer’s program!

Wednesday, August 22nd we’ll be meeting at the Piscataquis Valley Fairgrounds at 3:00 PM to assemble this year’s booth. Our theme this year will be “farm tools.” Help and ideas are needed! Contact Mary Annis for more information. We’ll also need helpers on Sunday for “tear down” in the afternoon.

Saturday, August 25th we’ll be visiting South Sangerville Grange for officer installation. Supper is at 6 PM and installation under the direction of state deputy Vernon Dunn will start at 7 PM. All area Granges are invited to participate. This meeting is open to the public and provides a great opportunity to learn more about the Grange.

Wicked Huge Yard and Bake Sale!

Just Five Minutes…

Just Five Minutes is a PowerPoint presentation converted to video that was produced in conjunction with our 2012 Community Citizen Program to give folks a sense of what our Grange is all about and to present some thoughts about community service.

(Should you experience difficulty with buffering, you can watch the program on You Tube by clicking the You Tube logo on the bottom right.)