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Around The Grange
Oregon Grange to reopen in July

By Hannah Guzik, Ashland Daily Tidings, OR (5/11/11)

  MAY 28, 2011 --

The Bellview Grange of Ashland, Oregon will reopen in July with more than a dozen new members committed to making the 1930 building a center for small farmers, gardeners and volunteers.

The grange, located on Tolman Creek Road, closed in October after 80 years of service because of declining membership.

Thanks to the hard work of a few key members, others have been recruited and will enable the organization to teach food preservation classes, hold potlucks and legislate for small farmers, said Joanna Wnorowski-Pecoraro, master of the grange at the time of its closure.

"It seems like we have a nice group of members who have experience with animals, plants, beekeeping and other skills," she said.

Wnorowski-Pecoraro expects the Oregon State Grange to reinstate the Bellview Grange's charter by July, after members have completed the final step to reopen the building. The grange will hold a potluck and reopening ceremony that month, she said.

"We're nine-tenths of the way there," she said. "We just want to make sure we're ready before we reopen, because this is all completely volunteer."

Ashland Contemporary Theatre will continue to hold plays in the grange building approximately four times per year, Wnorowski-Pecoraro said. Grange leaders have allowed the theater company to hold a show there this month, before the building officially reopens, she said. The comedy "End Days" is playing through May 22.

The theater company invested $1,500 in the grange building's stage last July and considers the grange its home, said Jeannine Grizzard, ACT artistic director. The theater company began staging productions at the grange in November 2009, after holding shows in a variety of community spaces, including the Pascal Winery and Ashland Middle School.

The grange also will allow community groups and teachers to rent its building during the daytime for classes and lectures, Wnorowski-Pecoraro said.

The Oregon State Grange is part of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, a fraternal organization founded in 1867, following the Civil War.

Those interested in volunteering at the grange or becoming a member should attend the potluck in July, she said.

"We'll invite the whole community to the reopening, to see what we've done with our time off," Wnorowski-Pecoraro said. "I think this was a good break, because it allowed us to think about how we want the grange to be in the future."

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