In the community

Officials look to ignite new interest in local grange hall

VALE – The Vale Grange Hall has a long history peppered with periods of inactivity, and the president of the state organization hopes area residents will once again rise to the occasion and join the local community organization.
The grange, at 259 Longfellow St., was built in 1958 and was often a scene for community activity, such as quilting classes, planting trees and hosting bicycle safety classes.
Yet the grange also experienced periodic closures, as membership shrank. That’s the case now as the hall has been vacant for a few years, said Jay Sexton, president of the Oregon State Grange.
“It reactivated in maybe 2014 and then it became inactive again,” said Sexton.
When a grange closes because of a lack of membership it becomes “dormant,” said Sexton.
“Whenever a grange is dormant, we hold onto the hall and its assets for seven years and try to reactivate it,” said Sexton.
After the seven-year dormant status, the state grange can elect to sell the building.
Sexton doesn’t want to see the Vale grange be sold and neither does Todd Fuller, Vale city manager.
Fuller met with Sexton recently to talk about the future of the building. Fuller said he reached out to Sexton after the facility fell behind on its water bill.
Fuller said he’d like to see “someone start to use” the building.
Fuller and Sexton inspected the building and found overall it is still in good condition.
Fuller said the building has been vacant since the Covid shutdown in 2020. He said it could become a meeting hall for the Vale Chamber of Commerce or the Vale Community.
The building wouldn’t be on the sale block until at least 2027 and Sexton said an active grange would benefit the community.
“If people were interested in the community to restart the grange that is our preferred outcome. We’d love to have new membership,” said Sexton.
He said to restart, the grange will need at least 13 fulltime members. Annual membership is $45.
Oregon has 163 active granges, said Sexton. Malheur County is also home to the Boulevard Grange on Oregon Highway 201.
“A grange does whatever kind of community service is needed in their area,” said Sexton.
The Grange is officially called The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry and was founded in 1867 as an agriculture advocacy organization.
Grange membership ballooned to more than 800,000 members by 1875 and was one of the first national organizations that offered membership and leadership roles to women. Grange membership, though, has fallen dramatically in the 20th Century as farms faded and the national economy evolved.
Sexton said in recent years Oregon grange membership either stayed static or showed a slight increase.
“We’ve had a positive trend in the past five or six years,” he said.
Granges have also moved away from the agricultural focus and are now more community-based, said Sexton.
The inclusive nature of granges also often proves attractive to potential members, he said. Granges, for example, are non-partisan, non-sectarian organizations with a focus on family and serving the community, he said.
“I think that is the brilliance of the organization of the grange. We do take positions on issues, but we do not take positions on candidates or parties,” said Sexton.
To find out more about the Grange, go online to

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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