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Annual Session - Master's Address
Master's Addresses are available for download in PDF form on the downloads page.
Master's Address for year:
Date of Address: October 18, 2018
Session: 134th Annual Session
State Master / President: Noel T. Miller

Brothers and Sisters of the Connecticut State Grange,

Friends, it is hard to believe that this is my fourth year as your State Master.   In the ?rst year the Board of Directors developed values for   the Connecticut State Grange. Honesty, Community, Charity, Integrity, Friendship and Citizenship were the important values that we placed on Grangers in Connecticut and we have succeeded in this charge. We are constantly seeking ideas to improve Leadership, Membership, and Social Skills needed to improve our Grange meetings and gain new members. We have survived 150 years and we seem to struggle to gain new members, and keep older members involved with our Community Granges.

MEMBERSHIP

This year our membership has taken a hit with more losses than gains. We have become an older membership organization. This proved that  to live longer you need to join the Grange, but it also means we need to change our approach to younger prospective members. We are not alone in getting new members as other organizations in our communities are having problems seeking new members. The last few articles in the Granger have addressed these ?ndings and I hope to see a new way of thinking on how to gain in membership. Our family base is a great selling point for new members, but some families are taking over the Grange and shutting out new ideas and new members. This is not the way for a Grange to operate as we have seen in the past these Grangers become stagnant and will close in the near future. It may be time to have a part-time Membership Director who can oversee new programs and out of the box thinking. The phrase “this is how we have always done it” needs to be rejected, trashed and be a dirty word in the Grange membership vocabulary. We have given out more membership packages this year but not everyone has gotten on board. This year we had to close Echo Grange #180, Litch?eld Grange #107 and Wolf Den Grange #61. This has always been a dif?cult task to be done as your State Master.

NATIONAL GRANGE

The National Grange has had some issues with the air conditioning and heating system at the National Grange Building in Washington, D.C. The entire system needed replacement. During the demolition phase, they found other systems needing repairs. The new system was installed and the contractor requested more money, thus a new contractor ?nished the project. As of September, the AC is up and running and now it’s time for heat. Other upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems were made and new paint is in some of the of?ces and the building is now at 100% occupancy.

The legal issues with the California State Grange are winding down. Both the National Grange and California State Grange have won their legal battles between them and the California Guild. State Grange property has been returned to the State Grange and Granges are returning to the California State Grange. Monies are the last hurdle that is now in the courts. Some funds have been reimbursed but some illegal payments are in court now. Hopefully this event is over and lessons are learned by everyone that the Digest is the rule for all Granges.

Ekonk Community Grange #89, Ekonk Community Junior #101, Hillstown #87 and Winchester #74 Grange members assisted with the Farm Aid pre- concert education center. Thanks to all that helped out with Farm Aid.

National Master Betsy Huber was present at Grange Day at the Big E on September 23, 2018. She marched in the parade with other Grangers and enjoyed the new Grange ?oat that we had for members to ride in the parade. She also worked at the New England Grange Building with sales and janitorial duties. Great job, Betsy.

National Grange Convention will be in Stowe, Vermont this year November 4-11, 2018. The Seventh Degree will be on Saturday, November 10 at 1:00 P.M. This is the closest to Connecticut it will be for a while so go if you can.

POMONA GRANGES

This year was the year of reorganization of the Pomona Granges in Connecticut. I welcome Eastern Connecticut Pomona #14, Mountain Laurel Pomona #15 and Nutmeg Pomona #16 to Connecticut. This was a dif?cult task for the State Executive Committee to undertake and the results are the best possible chance for the Pomona Granges to survive in Connecticut. We have already seen Pomona members not attending the new Pomona Granges. If this is the trend then the new Pomonas will fail. Every Fourth Degree member should belong to a Pomona Grange. It gives you a chance to meet different people, get new ideas as to what other Granges are doing and it allows you to get the 6th and 7th Degrees. The Fifth Degree is the prettiest degree and is part of the pathway to the future. Check the new Pomonas out and be part of the future.

EDUCATION

Education is a part of the Grange that we have supported since the beginning of the Connecticut State Grange. Community Granges rallied the legislators to make the Storrs Agricultural School to become this state’s land grant college in 1881, taking it away from Yale University. Thus, UConn was born. We all know the importance of a good education. We have supported adequate funding for public schools, vocational agricultural schools, technical schools, community colleges and affordable universities. With the fast growth of technology our towns are burdened with increased taxes to give our students the tools needed to succeed in the future. Yet towns are in competition for magnet schools, which puts strains and drains on local boards of education to transport and pay enrollments to the private classrooms. How times have changed.

The FFA is still a fast growing educational program with 20 chapters in Connecticut and over 3,300 members with 100 teachers in agricultural education. We have supported this group from its infancy and I hope you have invited them to your meetings for a program, farm experience or a Grange function. I know this is a hard group to get to join because they either go to college or go into farming after high school. We should try harder for they are hard workers, public speakers and Parliamentary trained members. Give them a chance and listen to what they have to offer.

AGRICULTURE

Connecticut Agriculture is a 3.4 billion dollar business that fuels our economy and provides 28,000 local jobs in our state. We need to have increased trade efforts and repeal tariffs that endanger the delicate pricing of agricultural products. This year we have lost four family dairy farms due to the crashing milk prices and lock-outs of markets that are needed for the success of the future. Other farm products are being undermined by tariffs that will have grave impacts on farmers across the United States. Lending institutions are already tightening requests for 2019 farm loans. The 2018 Farm Bill needs to be passed now as delays are having an impact on markets and family farms. We must close loopholes that non-farmers are getting aid for farm products. We need an immigration program that allows migrant workers to come to Connecticut to work our farms because the local workforce declines doing farm work. When I was in high school my guidance counselor wanted me to take a language class. I told her I wanted to be a dairy farmer and cows didn’t speak Spanish. But now many dairy farms are hiring Mexicans to milk cows. If I knew then what I know now, I probably could speak Spanish.

Technology is expanding over leaps and bounds on today’s farms. Satellite guided tractors, self-driving tractors, GPS planting, robotic milking stations, are the future of farming. You will be able to run your operation with your cell phone, scary to me. Therefore, we need improvements in internet and cellular coverage to assist rural America in meeting the needs for today’s farming. The National Grange is on the FCC committee to improve rural broadband internet for rural America. Soon you will have to go to a heritage farm in order to have a hands on experience in farming. Our future is meeting the challenge every year but weather has had a strong impact on our farmers with ?res, ?oods, hurricanes, snowstorms, and tornadoes that have impacted everyone this year. Is this the course for the future?

CAMP MAUD ISBELL BERGER

This is the gem of the Connecticut State Grange. Chris and Lyn Kimberly have continued to improve the camp with work done on the dining hall ?oor and a new stove. New fencing and regrading of the driveway and tree removal have greatly improved the looks of the Camp. This year newer sailboats, kayaks and paddle boards were purchased for the camping season. We had an increase in campership this year,  but we still have   a need for better communication between the Kimberly’s and the State Grange so bills and needs can be handled quickly. We are looking forward to another camping season. Thank you Chris and Lyn for all the work you do for the Camp.

OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS

I wish to thank all of the Directors that helped promote the State Grange. Our CWA continues to shine at Let’s Celebrate and for having items for the Big E sewing contest. Our Social Committee always has a fun and entertaining program as well as great food. I thank the youth that went  to Brooks, Maine for the New England Youth Conference. I hear that it is coming to Connecticut in 2019. I thank your Junior Leaders for the work that our Junior Granges are doing for the community. I hope that our future programs will excite more participation in Grange activities.

To the Of?cers, I wish to thank you for the work that you have done this year. You are the eyes and ears for the State Grange and can report concerns to the State Master before things get out of hand. Your friendship will always be appreciated by me and I hope you continue to support the next State Master.

The Board of Directors is always watching my back from informing me when I am wrong but also thanking me for doing right. This year we were in the real estate business and this is not what we should be in. Although we think our halls are worth millions, they are real headaches to get rid of. We still have furniture available for your Grange halls. Let’s hope this is not the future for our Community Granges.

The Secretary and Treasurer are the real heroes for the work they do behind the scenes to keep this State Grange ever facing the light. They make the best out of a bad situation and always keep me out of trouble. I thank you all for the excellent work that you do for this Grange.

CLOSING COMMENTS

I have enjoyed being your State Master. Many Granges have celebrated 125 and 130 years of Grange service and I have enjoyed celebrating with you. Marcia and I have enjoyed visiting Granges although I did miss my goal to visit every Grange. This year the Northeast Connection is trying to combine Leaders’ Conference with the Youth and Lecturer’s Conferences to improve attendance and reduce costs for Grangers. We will see in 2019 what happens to these events.

The years of the “G” bills were very good to the State Grange assessment fund but these “C” bills were even harder to ?nd. I thank all those who collected these bills and we will not do this again.

The New England Grange Building had a great year at the Big E. 1.5 million people attended the fair with September 15th and the 22nd having the highest attendance. Three days were wash-outs but the parade was well attended and I thank Clucky T Chicken for riding the ?oat.
Let us remember that the State Grange does not want to take your money, we are here to assist you in business decisions that your Grange may not have to ever encounter, and give you the best advice we can offer. The National Grange Digest is the Law for all Grangers. You need to read them and follow them. If you don’t the National Grange can revoke your Charter and you will lose everything your Grange owns. The California State Grange has proven this. So please contact the State Master or the Executive Committee for the sale of property and turning in charters because we can guide you in the proper way to handle this.

As I conclude I wish to thank all the Grangers in Connecticut for allowing me to be your State Master for the last four years. I will never forget the FRIENDSHIP and CHARITY you have shown me. I also congratulate the Granges for the COMMUNITY and awarding CITIZENSHIP and for helping me with my HONESTY and INTEGRITY for “That is the Grange way.”  Marcia and I thank you all for the honor of representing the Connecticut State Grange and will look forward to serving in the future where I can assist. Good luck and God Bless the Connecticut State Grange.

Respectfully yours,

Noel T. Miller

State Master
 
     
     
       
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