Grange Notes: Nov. 27, 2011

Dec. 3rd meeting—a brief floor replacement discussion
Dec. 3rd: Memorial for Polly Howlett at 5:00

Dec. 3rd meeting—a brief floor replacement discussion: Our meeting next Saturday will be condensed to make time for remembering Polly Howlett, our good friend and Worthy Overseer, who passed away on Nov. 21. We will be starting the Grange business meeting at 4:30 sharp, so that we can have some time to discuss putting down a deposit for the floor replacement project, before we need to be ready to change gears to begin the memorial service.
To recap where we stand on the floor: the Floor Committee plans for replacement of the maple floor in the main Hall are based on working with local sawmill owner Ken Gagnon, whose family runs Gagnon Lumber in Pittsford VT. Ken, who has been coming to dances at the Grange for decades, is working with Tommy Lathrop of Lathrop Maple Supply in Bristol, a local kiln-drying facility and flooring mill, to be ready to provide Vermont maple, locally sawn, kiln-dried and milled into tongue-and groove flooring for our Hall. The boards will be milled about 1/16” thicker than standard flooring. This may not sound like much, but it will increase the amount of wood above the tongue-and-groove joint by 25%, significantly increasing the longevity of the floor.
Our plan is to aim to replace the floor in the fall of 2012. To get the production of the flooring underway (which begins with harvesting the trees this winter), we need to put down a deposit of about $500, a commitment we need to make at this meeting. That will start Ken and Tommy on producing the flooring, which they can store until we are ready to lay the floor. The total cost of the flooring will be about $5,000.
Our plans for the actual replacement of the floor include asking for volunteers to remove the old floor when the time comes, and then having a local flooring company install the special flooring described above. They will sand the floor to smooth it and eliminate any “steps” between floorboards. They will then apply 3 coats of a tung-oil based, penetrating finish. Because this is not a surface film finish, it does not have the disadvantages of a typical floor finish (polyurethane, for example), which can be “grabby” for dancing, and eventually wears through. Polyurethane finishes also need significant sanding before being re-coated. The tung-oil finish can be re-coated without sanding the floor, as additional coats will bond to the original finish. The tung-oil finish will also seal the floor, to keep tracked-in moisture or spills from soaking in—a constant struggle with our current floor, which has only a “sheen” from the dust-mop treatment we use.
I have done considerable research on finish choices, including at the recent Dance Organizers conference in White River Junction, and feel quite confident that we are making the right choice.
Our current quotes for the flooring, installation, sanding and finishing total about $19,000 (this includes the cost of the flooring cited above). We will need to raise a substantial amount of money to complete this project, one reason that we are scheduling actual installation for about a year from now. The Contra Dance Umbrella committee has already pledged a minimum of $5,000, and the Grange has nearly $1,000 of donations set aside in memory of Ted Marsden and specifically for floor replacement. A current raffle of hotel room tickets for the Dance Flurry (donated by a very generous member of the dance community) is expected to generate $1,000. Another member has a rocking horse he has made, which we will soon raffle off—in time for Christmas! Add all of these up, and we are well on our way to funding this project.
As you will have read, a group has also been meeting to plan for establishment of a non-profit “Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall” corporation, which will have 501 c3 status via affiliation with the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). This organization will not be a subsidiary of the Grange, but will have the mission of supporting the Hall and the community, dance, music, song and arts events which take place there. It will provide a way for supporters to make tax-deductible donations, which will help us raise funds for floor replacement in the near term, and for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the Hall.
Because of all the support and planning that are being done, not just by me but by a substantial number of committed volunteers, I feel confident that we can take on this project and succeed in the necessary financing. At our Grange meeting on the 3rd of December, I'll be asking for a vote by Grange members to go ahead with this project, by having our Treasurer write a check for the $500 deposit for the flooring. I'd really like to have a good representation of the Grange membership there to discuss this and take part in the decision—because the Grange is not a “top-down” organization where a single person can make choices for the whole group, but a democratic one.
In the present circumstances, our discussion will be limited by the necessary scheduling of the memorial service; this is why I ask members to come on time for this 4:30 meeting. We will focus on this one issue, rather than do a full meeting with agricultural and legislative reports, so we can reach an official decision on this important issue.

Dec. 3rd: Memorial for Polly Howlett at 5:00: Our Grange will end our meeting with the ceremony designed to memorialize a member, called “Draping the Charter”. All are welcome to join us for this ceremony at 5:00, followed by a gathering to remember Polly, hosted by her family and her many friends.
The gathering will provide all of us a chance to remember the active, enthusiastic person we will be missing in our lives. It will segue into a large potluck dinner, at about 6:30, in the cafeteria downstairs. We encourage all who can to join us for any part of these events. If you can cook a little extra for the potluck dinner, to help feed the guests from out-of-town, that would be great.
The Grange is honored to host this remembrance of one of our most active members, who served as our Overseer as well as an indefatigable volunteer for Grange work since joining in 2005. Actually, her involvement in Grange improvements began before then, with the painting projects organized by the CDU. It continued with her joining in most of our activities, including cleaning, painting inside and out (I think of her whenever I look at the wall of the kitchen downstairs, which used to be wood-grain, brown paneling and is now a cheerful yellow—I remember her painting that wall). I also remember her hard work to assemble the 2008 grant application to the VT Arts Council. Polly was a key driver in that effort, soliciting letters from users of the Hall, taking pictures of the existing Hall and its entrance with stairs, and keeping track of all the paperwork in putting the application together. I remember going, along with my son, to her office at St. Michael's college (where she taught in the Department of Applied Linguistics since 1988) on a Saturday morning to put all the pieces together and take them to the post office.
Thanks to the work of Polly and the other volunteer grant-writers, the Arts Council funded our project with $20,000, enabling the Grange to build an addition creating a “universal entrance” with a ramp and stairs to allow everyone access to the main floor. The project also included creating an accessible bathroom on the main floor.
As Overseer, which is the “vice president” role in the Grange, Polly was a reliable presence at our meetings, always involved in discussions and decisions, asking thoughtful questions and making sure we considered all points of view as we talked about issues—whether in the Grange or in the wider world. She ran the meetings in my absence, to everyone's satisfaction, efficiently and well. We will need to fill her position at our Grange—and they will be big shoes to fill.
These are just some of my memories of Polly—I look forward to hearing many more from people from many parts of her active life at the gathering on Saturday. Please spread the word to other members of the dance and Grange community who are not part of my email list, so as many people as possible can share their memories and feelings about Polly at this special gathering.
I would be happy to post pictures of Polly on the Photos page of this website, if they are emailed to me, see my contact info on the Contacts page.

Tim Swartz, Master (with everyone's help)
Capital City Grange #469

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