In the community

New lease on life for Vale’s Grange Hall

Shannon King touches up the paint on a window sill at the Vale Grange hall last week. A grand reopening of the renowned local gathering place will be held Saturday at 6 p.m. (Malheur Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis)

VALE – New life is being breathed into the Vale Grange in an effort to create a space in the community where people can come together for some good family fun.

The Grange, at 259 Long Fellow St., will hold its grand re-opening with a ribbon cutting and dance on Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Tickets for the dance are $1 per person. 

A variety of music will be played, including country, classic rock, and hip hop. 

It will be an alcohol-free event but refreshments like water and soda will be sold. 

The grand reopening comes after two years of restoration efforts by local grange and community members.

The Grange, short for the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a conglomeration of agriculturally involved communities. 

The network is broken down into community, county, state, and national levels. 

In Vale, the Grange has served as a way for members to give back to their community.

“Everybody has been amazing,” said Shannon King, grange member, who orchestrated much of the restorations. “We have a lot of community support now, so many of the businesses are helping, just donating bottles of water for the dances and stuff.”

King got involved with the Vale Grange two years ago when members encouraged her to use the space for her business, Belles & Gents Dance Studio. Since then, King and other Grange members have poured countless hours into sprucing up the Grange building. 

“I like it. I think it’s great,” said Steve Fortmiller, president of the Vale Grange, of the restoration. “I’m a fourth-generation Granger; my daughter, she’s a fifth generation. We’ve been involved – our whole family – for years.”

The Grange building in Vale was built in 1958. 

Back then, it served as a hub for community projects that Grange members worked on such planting trees in the park, teaching community quilting classes, and providing bicycle safety classes.In 1958, the Grange placed first in Oregon and fourth nationally in the contest for community service projects. It received a bronze plaque and $2,000 as an award. 

The following year, the Grange won first place in the Oregon community service project again and was 10th in the nation. 

While it has been a number of years since those awards, the grand reopening creates the possibility for the community to engage in service projects through the Grange once again.

King and other grange members like Jackie DeLong hope that a revitalized grange building will recreate a space for the Vale community to come together.

“It’s a good way to get out and socialize,” said DeLong, a Grange member since 1975. “A lot of people these days don’t get out and socialize and I don’t think that’s good as a society. We need those social interactions.”

Among projects to bring the building back into use is restoring floors, painting, and installation of air conditioning. Those projects are close to completion but more money and volunteer help is needed to finish them. King is working with a local contractor to install the air conditioning, estimated to cost $5,000. Additionally, new floors had to be installed and the concrete downstairs has to be sealed. 

Sherwin Williams is donating half of the sealant, five gallons, and the Grange will have to pay for the other half at a cost of $350.

A painting party was held recently with volunteers starting at 8 a.m. and painting the exterior of the Grange using recycled paint. 

Some painting still needs to be done, and King is working on adding a darker trim around the windows. A mural is in progress by the main entrance of the building facing Longfellow Street. 

Once such projects are done and the Grange is officially reopened, it will be available to the public as a rental space for dances, meetings, weddings, and more. 

“The grange has always been very fun for me,” said DeLong. “I think it’s great that it’s been reorganized – there needs a place for people to be, to relax, and enjoy.”

Carolyn Agrimis: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

Workers pose as they build the Vale Grange Hall in this 1958 photograph. Local volunteers banded together to recently complete a two-year restoration effort on the building. (Photo courtesy of the Vale Grange)