January 24, 2017 Meeting Minutes

President Joan Smith called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m. in the Goss Conference Room of the National Grange Building in Washington, DC.  The meeting was held in conjunction with the Potomac Grange #1 annual holiday party.

Also present were National Grange president Betsy Huber, National Grange Legislative Director Burton Eller, Steward Amanda Brozana, Lady Assistant Steward Jessie Cope, Flora Stephanie Wilkins, Program Director Loretta Washington, Secretary Richard Weiss, and Intern Kim Stefanick.

Treasure’s Report

  • We have no record of filing 9090s for 2013, 2014, 2015 and, as yet, 2016. Weiss will do a search of past minutes of any filing evidence.
  • The 2015 Kile Fund trust report has been completed, signed by Joan Smith and Leroy Watson and submitted to the bank in December 2016.
  • National convention costs are still being reconciled.
  • The Kile Fund will compensate Joan Smith up to $400.00 to cover costs of today’s event which had educational content. (See “Speakers)
  • There was some question as to whether or not third quarter dues have been paid from the operating account. Weiss will check to see if the third quarter report was submitted.

Old Business

  • There is overall satisfaction with how things went with the National Convention.
  • President Huber was pleased with the President’s reception especially that it remained in the original Hospitality room and the soups and sandwiches were a big success.
  • The Hospitality room was a big success with soups, chili and hot dogs, homemade desserts and the beverage station was always perfect..
  • The Arlington Cemetery Tomb of the Unknown wreath laying was very emotional as we have four Grange Veterans who participated. James Foster, WVA; Chip Narval, DE; Peg Johnson, PG#1; Scott Baldwin, IA.
  • The Host, Delegate, Youth and Junior tours were a success in spite of a bus breakdown.
  • Jessie Cope is going to put together a book of “lessons learned” from hosting a national convention perspective. It will be available to future Host Regions.

New Business

  • Bee care course – In order for the Grange to have a bee hive on its roof, four members must train and qualify in bee care. Accordingly, a course in bee care is offered at the University of District of Columbia. The course covers care procedures for the four seasons of the year.  Course starting January 31, the course runs thru 28 March one night a week from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Cost is $90.00.  The Kile Fund will cover the cost based on its educational nature.  Those attending are:  Joan C. Smith, Allison Archebault; Amanda Brozana, Kim Stefanick.
  • The 2017 Masters Conference will be held in Norwich Connecticut. The Connecticut State Grange will provide meals and airport transportation, leaving only to and from travel expenses, hotel costs, some meals, parking and a $20.00 registration fee to be covered by participants. It was moved, seconded and passed to allocate up to $600.00 from the Kile Fund to cover President Smith’s expenses to attend the Masters Conference.
  • The 2017 Congressional Fly-In will be held April 24th to April 27th. In accordance with an earlier vote, Potomac Grange issued a $3,000.00 check to National Grange to cover two Fly-In scholarships up to $800.00 each and purchase of Congressional guide books.

Speakers

Dave Streid and Kathy Streid of The Transcendental Meditation Program gave a very informative and educational presentations on the benefits of transcendental meditation. Those benefits range from reduced stress and anxiety to better focus and brain function.  The process is easy to learn and, once learned, is simply practiced twice a day for about twenty minutes each session.  The speakers explained the steps to enroll in their classes.

There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.  Next meeting will be a noon-time conference call on February 21st.  Stephanie will send out a notice with call numbers.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard B Weiss, Secretary
Potomac Grange #1

October 18, 2016 Meeting Minutes

President Joan Smith called the meeting to order via telephone at 12:10 p.m. EDT. Also on the call were Executive Committee member Cheri Watson, Overseer Leroy Watson, Secretary Richard Weiss, Steward Amanda Brozana, Lady Assistant Steward Jessie Cope, Flora Stephanie Wilkins, National Grange President Betsy Huber, Grange Executive Assistant Stephanie Tiller, Grange Legislative Director Burton Eller and Grange Program Director Loretta Washington.

The September 20, 2016 minutes were approved as written.

Kile Fund

2015 Report – Per a request from the US Trust, Jeri Smith, Joan has reviewed our Kile Fund financial records and Bank Statements to complete the requested forms. The 2015 report/forms have been compiled and the Term and Conditions for 2016 have been completed and provided to LeRoy Watson, Kile Fund Trustee, for signature and forwarding to US Trust. Per Jeri Smith, our 2016 quarterly allotments will continue to be provided on schedule.

IRS Reports – 990s

Joan reported that in reviewing our financials, it appears that we have not filed our IRS Taxes since 2012 or 2013. Joan will compile data and provide to our CPA for completion and filing.

Election of Treasurer

Sister Amanda Brozana was elected as our Treasurer effective 1 December 2016.
 

Junior Grange

Rachel Watson has turned 14 years old. Her school volley ball team is undefeated and going to state finals.

150th National Grange Convention
  • Junior Grange tee shirts with the sash design will not be produced due to lack of time.
  • Present in the office for the Monday evening tour will be Grace Boatright, Samantha Johnson, Jessie Cope, Stephanie Wilkins and Dick Weiss.
  • While Stephanie Wilkins will be in the office Tuesday and Wednesday of convention week, it was recommended that Dick Weiss be there also in case buses show up for a tour of the building.
  • Discussion of 7th Degree logistics focused on transportation from the hotel to the theater in Alexandria. Jessie pointed out that there will be six buses available. The set-up crew will be transported by van.
  • Potomac Grange will manage the President’s Reception on Sunday night. Joan proposed that wraps, chips, salsa and a sheet cake with the Grange logo be purchased from a nearby Costco as we will not have access to equipment or time to prepare snacks ourselves. Betsy concurred with the recommendation.
  • There will be display space for the Shoes for Souls.
  • 725 pairs of socks will be on display as part of the national community service project.

Other Business

The Potomac Grange 2015 9090 tax document has not been done and it appears that 2013, 2014 also may not have been completed. Potomac Grange has suffered frequent turnover of treasurers and has not had a treasured for several months. There is a need for a long term treasurer. National Grange Treasurer Stewart Hughes has indicated he does not want the position with Potomac Grange.

Amanda Brozana volunteered to undertake the job beginning December 1, 2016.

There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at 1:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Richard Weiss, Secretary
Potomac Grange #1

To Ensure the Best Outcomes for Rural Americans, Better Provisions Needed in Federal Broadband Plan

By Joan C. Smith, President, Potomac Grange #1

Today’s global economy demands that every participant have access to reliable, high-speed Internet in order to attain a level playing field to actively participate in the virtual business marketplace. Although rural America constitutes 15% of our total population, it is these men and women and families who keep food on our tables, fuel in our cars and provide energy for our homes and businesses. We owe it to them to implement the infrastructure to provide broadband internet services.   Americans living in rural areas still lack access to this vital resource.

Historically, rural areas have been the last to gain access to new conveniences. Broadband Internet, however, is not merely a convenience—it is essential to the business of agriculture, farming and ranching and nearly every other aspect of life in rural America. Rural communities are profoundly and adversely affected by poor access to high-speed Internet. Right now we have the chance to change that once and for all with appropriate reforms during Phase II of the Connect America Fund (CAF) plan; it’s up to the Federal Communications Commission to make the right choices.

There’s a lot at stake with the CAF initiative, so we must get it right; the consequences, good or bad, could stretch over decades. The National Grange has always advocated for updating rural infrastructure, as it did for the railroads and rural postal delivery, and now the emphases is with rural broadband Internet. Modern farming and ranching is like any other business; it relies heavily on technology and information. Dairy production and crop yields can be monitored and data shared in real time between different farms and the marketplace. Commodities prices can also be followed to help determine what crops to plant and when to harvest.

CAF was first developed in 2011, with the goal of connecting as many as 7 million un-served rural Americans by 2017 and all of the country’s 19 million un-served individuals living in rural areas by 2020; yet it still is not finalized and hasn’t even begun to be put into practice. CAF calls for $1.8 billion in funding, but how best to use this funding to effectively build out broadband infrastructure to rural areas is the real issue at hand. Regrettably, it seems significant changes need to be made to the existing plan during Phase II to deliver the most essential outcomes.

The plan is centered on more than doubling required download speed from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps. That would be fantastic, but it won’t make a big difference if other related aspects of the CAF plan are not improved as well.

Consider the way in which broadband coverage is measured. Right now, “Census blocks” are used, and as long as part of the block has access, it is counted as being covered. Yet within each “block” there are households left without the service, perpetuating the digital divide for those individuals and families while keeping up the appearance of closing the gap in access. Higher standards and independent verification of different providers’ broadband coverage claims can ameliorate this problem.

Moreover, unlicensed, fixed Wireless Internet Services, or WISPs, are being treated as suitable alternatives to real facilities-based fiber infrastructure, not true. The FCC’s regulatory assumption is that a WISP provides reliable connectivity to an entire area, but that just isn’t accurate. Capacity can be very limited in these networks, and there are issues like line-of-sight (LOS) and spectrum interference. WISPs really aren’t acceptable as primary infrastructure, but can be useful in a supporting function.

Providers still need better incentives to build out the infrastructure to reach rural areas, the most isolated, and hard-to-reach areas. Connect America Fund (CAF) resources can be used to share some of the financial burden for those efforts. Providers should be held to elevated but reasonable standards and need enough flexibility to handle the unexpected hindrances that are bound to occur with a project like this.

Finally, let’s extend the planned funding period to a full ten (10) years to ensure this work is steadily and properly carried out.

Perhaps most important, our families and communities can be strengthened through better access and higher download speeds. Jobs can be created and local economies improved. Services that eliminate some travel over large distances in many rural areas, such as telemedicine and distance learning, can save energy, develop a better rural workforce and improve quality of life. The majority of our nation’s farmers and ranchers are small business owners, internet utilization informs them of new agricultural technologies to enhance their production thereby providing higher yields to meet our growing demand for food, fiber and fuel.

Rural Americans need and deserve equal access to top-notch broadband Internet service. As a fifth-generation Granger myself, I urge the FCC to enact the “right rules and regulations” to get the most out of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II represents.

Joan C. Smith is President of Potomac Grange #1, Washington, DC. The National Grange, founded in 1867, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan fraternal organization that advocates for rural America and agriculture. With a strong history in grassroots activism, family values and community service, the Grange is part of more than 2,100 hometowns across the United States.

Hello world!

We’re your neighbors

The Potomac Grange #1 meets every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 9:00 AM.  Meetings are held in the 10th floor Saunders Library located in the National Grange building, 1616 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20006.

The Grange is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in more than 2,100 hometowns across America. We have nearly 150 years of history, a spirit of grassroots advocacy, and a fraternal spirit that we’re happy to share with you.

To learn more about the Grange, read our Declaration of Purposes) or download a membership brochure . You can also learn more about Grange Youth for those 14 to 30 years of age and Junior Grange for children 5 to 14 . Grange members enjoy many benefits, including discounts on energy, vacations and medical services. To learn more, read our member benefits brochure .

We’d love to tell you about the exciting opportunities the Grange offers. Stop by a meeting anytime. They’re always open to the public. If you’d prefer to support rural America and agriculture on your own time, you can look into E-Membership. E-Members enjoy the same benefits as community Grange members and have all materials delivered to their inbox. American Values. Hometown Roots.