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…

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)

April 2012 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The hope is to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving by raising awareness and promoting education. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from driving. All distractions are dangerous to the driver, to any passengers, and to bystanders. Distractions include using a cell phone while driving, texting while driving, eating and drinking while driving, adjusting a radio or a CD player while driving, reading maps while driving, and using a navigation system while driving.

Distracted driving is a leading factor in fatal and serious injury crashes. Cell phone use has grown a lot in recent years and has caused an increase in cell phone use while driving. Cell phone use is a factor in nearly one in four crashes. Brain activity used for driving is decreased by 39% if a driver is talking on a cell phone. Hands free devices have not been shown to provide any safety benefit. Instead, the driver’s attention is focused on the cell phone conversation.

Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is considered the most dangerous distraction. American teens send and receive an average of 3300 text messages every month. That is more than 6 texts for every hour they are awake! Texting may cause a driver to look away from the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles/hour a vehicle can travel the length of a football field, all while the driver is not looking. Texting while driving increases your chances of a crash by up to 23 times. Drivers who type or read messages while driving contribute to at least 100,000 crashes each year.

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 were injured due to distracted driving. Sixteen percent of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.

In Maine, there is a ban on all cell phone use-handheld and hands free-for new drivers. There is a ban on texting while driving for all drivers. It is against the law in Maine to drive while distracted. If you are traveling out-of-state, be sure to check the laws in each state.

People realize that distracted driving is dangerous but they continue driving while talking on cell phones and while texting. Recommendations include turning off your cell phone while driving so that you will not be tempted to answer a call. Ask your passengers to turn off their cell phones as well. Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and park if you can safely do this. Never text while driving. Always drive defensively. At any one time, 9% of drivers on the road are talking on cell phones making them four times as likely to crash, maybe into you.   

For more information about distracted driving visit or

Webmaster note: You can find some additional resources on the GrowME Blog–a great program (with lots of free resources) produced by AT&T called, “Your Last Text Message.”