03/05/08 — Teenagers interested in starting new Grange

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Teenagers interested in starting new Grange

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 5, 2008 1:45 PM

The rural Grange is making a come-back, say members of Wayne County's Pomona Grange.

Years ago, farmers belonged to half a dozen community granges formed to advocate agriculture. They all held memberships in the county-wide Pomona Grange.

But today only three Granges remain active in the county: Grantham, Brogden and Oakland. Their members met Monday night in the Oakland Church fellowship hall to accept the last remaining $104 from the Belfast Grange budget. That group has folded. Members voted unanimously to accept the money on the condition it be held in case Belfast forms again.

"I hope they start back, and we can return the money to them," said John Tart, Pomona's Grange master.

The three community Granges are working to revitalize not only their groups but the inactive groups as well. Besides Belfast, Wayne had two other Granges to cease operations: New Hope and Nahunta.

Current Grange members are aging out of the organization, and the older members Monday night welcomed 17 teens to the meeting. The teens were all FFA members from several area high schools. The young people indicated that they want to form their own youth Grange. A Grange couple, Ed and Cindy Stevens, offered to help them get started.

"I haven't seen this many young people at the Grange hall in my entire life," Tart said.

But Lloyd Massey, who has been a Grange member more than 70 years, said he has.

Massey said he will turn 92 this month, and that he has seen the Granges come through a lot during his years as a member of the Brogden Grange.

Massey presented a plaque made in the shape of North Carolina to retiring State Sen. John Kerr. He told Kerr the distinguished service award was for his many years of dedicated service to the Pomona Grange.

"You've done an outstanding fantastic job for the people of North Carolina," Massey told Kerr.

Kerr said he was overwhelmed by the recognition. He told the gathering that he had thought he was attending just another Grange meeting as he has throughout the years. He then encouraged the teens to become involved in politics.

"Any one or two of you may be elected to the Senate or the House or as a county commissioner -- or to Congress," he said. "Keep in mind we need to you be interested in politics, interested in good government."