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Around The Grange
Colorado Grange is a center of activity

By Reilly Quist, Delta County Independent, Colorado (2/24/11)

  MARCH 12, 2011 --

The Redlands Mesa Grange Hall located at 27959 Redland Mesa Road, midway between Cedaredge and Hotchkiss, has been a Delta County, Colorado landmark for over 50 years. It has been an important part of the local community in the past, and is still a busy place today.

The Redlands Mesa Grange Hall was built in the early 1950s with grant money from the Colorado State Grange and local fund raisers. The Redden family donated 2.6 acres of land for the building. A contract was put together that said the land given was to be used for the grange, and, if the land wasn't being used for the grange, the Redden family would get the land back. Members of the community worked together to build the building.

The Grange is a national organization of people who come together to work for the good of the rural communities. Granges are officially known as The Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The members of the local granges have meetings to help the community and plan events for the members and community. Today there are granges in more than 30 states. There are several different levels of granges: local, state and national. Granges are usually guided by elected officers. The president or chairperson of the organization is called the master. The vice president is called the overseer. Other positions include secretary, treasurer, and chaplain. Jim Cazar is the master of the Redlands Grange.

The Redlands Mesa Grange Hall has always been a center of activity, hosting many dances, meetings, and numerous other functions. Over the years, wear and tear took its toll on the hall. Repairs and improvements were needed. Remodeling of the hall began about six years ago when the floor started to cave in. A vent in the foundation caused the wood to get wet and after a time rot. The members of the Redlands Mesa Grange received $22,000 from a national grange insurance policy to fix the floor. The Grange members used recycled maple wood to build the dance floor.

After they finished rebuilding the floor, they had money left over. There was a meeting to decide what to do with the leftover money. The group decided to build a new stage, new closets, install audiovisual equipment, and put in a new heating system. This took care of the leftover money. Then arose a new problem. The kitchen wasn't sanitary and was starting to become unsafe. The local grange received a Hesperus Helping Kids Grange Grant, as well as additional support from the Coors Foundation, and the Delta County commissioners to build a new, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. The members decided to build a commercial kitchen so they could rent it out to caterers and to people in the community to process their produce. The kitchen allows local growers to add value to their crops, while providing much needed income to maintain the hall.

It has been three years since the kitchen was built. It has been used by local farmers to make a variety of products, including salsa, goat cheese, and chocolate treats. The kitchen has also been used for food safety classes sponsored by the Colorado State University Extension office

Jim Cazar and the members of the grange take care of the building today. Cazar has been the master of the Redlands Mesa Grange Hall for four years, and has been involved with the hall since 1990. All decisions are made at a grange meeting. Anyone may become a member of the Redland Mesa Grange. Most of the members are from Redlands Mesa area, but some members come from other areas of Delta County. It costs $50 a year to become a member of the grange, and the local grange chapter receives half of that money.

The hall holds many events today, such as holiday potluck dinners, dances, music nights, and classes. One event the hall held in the past that was a huge success was the annual fireman's ball. These get-togethers were helpful for raising money for the fire department. It was a night full of music and dancing for anyone who wanted to come. All the firemen and their wives came and had a wonderful time. At the end of the evening of the last ball there was a big fireworks display. Anyone can rent the hall, although there are discounts for grange members renting the kitchen.

The Redlands Mesa Grange Hall may look old on the outside, but in the inside the place is newly redone, and is a great place to have a gathering for old or young people. It is a special place with a unique history.

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