10/18/09 — State Grange honors going to Grantham for third year

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State Grange honors going to Grantham for third year

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on October 18, 2009 2:00 AM

The Grantham Grange has been named North Carolina State Grange of the Year for the third time in the past six years.

Five members of the organization also took home awards for their dedication to the community.

President Bobby Crawford attributed the Grantham group's success at the 81st Annual Convention in Fayetteville to its hard-working members and their drive to improve Grantham and the surrounding areas.

"We got a group of people that are interested in the community, that want to help the community," Crawford said. "They are a nucleus of people, five or six or seven couples that make up the heart of it, and 30 or 40 members."

The Grantham Grange began nearly 150 years ago, making it one of the oldest surviving organizations in eastern North Carolina. Originally formed to be a legislative voice for farmers, it has become an organization dedicated to community service, as well as a promoter of agriculture.

Its original purpose was to be a voice in the legislature for farmers who otherwise might be overlooked, but over time the Grange has developed into a group dedicated to community service as well as promoting agriculture.

To determine the award winners, the state judges look at the records of each Grange and a committee calculates points based on the different programs the group has completed. An independent committee tallies the points and presents the awards.

The Grantham Grange members are very active and participate in events such as the Memory Walk, Relay for Life, the Heart Walk and others. The group holds a fundraiser at the Wayne County Regional Agricultural Fair every year selling hot dogs and hamburgers. The funds raised go not only for the group's monthly programs, but also to help community members in need -- often those who have been burned out of their homes or are facing excessive medical bills.

"We're real proud," Crawford said.

One Grantham family received its own special recognition for their work with the Grange. Cindy and Ed Stevens, and their children Cody and Katie, were named Grange Farm Family of the Year. The Stevenses grow row crops and tobacco, produce turkeys for Goldsboro Milling Co. and raise hogs for Murphy-Brown. Earlier this year they were named Farm Family of the Year from the Grantham Grange.

"We were pretty excited that we won," Stevens said.

Caroline Elizabeth Tart, a freshman at North Carolina State University and vice president of the Wayne County Grange, was named Youth Granger of the Year by the state Grange. Miss Tart, now double majoring in agriculture education and agriculture communications, has been active in her church and in the Grantham Grange for seven years. She has served in a variety of leadership roles, and completed community service projects for the Goldsboro soup kitchen, the American School of Deaf, Shoeboxes for the Kids and WAGES Head Start, among many others.