Last call at Grange hall? Lack of leadership, participation may lead to Quimper’s closure

PORT TOWNSEND — It was organized in 1919, chartered in 1920, and for decades, was the center of community life.

Now, Quimper Grange may close its doors.

Unable to recruit a slate of officers for 2008, the Grange has been technically defunct since last December, according to acting master Jonathan Clemens.

Since then, he’s kept the building open, paying the bills and handling rentals.

“I’m literally the only executive officer,” Clemens said.

But Clemens, an engineer who does energy consulting, no longer lives in Port Townsend, and is looking for someone else to take over management of the hall.

Six dance groups use the hall on a regular basis — with rent raised from $40 to $60 a day, it’s still the best deal in town, he says — and the income is keeping the Grange alive financially.

Last year, Quimper Grange had 60 members who paid dues, Clemens said, a number that dropped to 42 in 2008.

But with no one willing to step up and be an officer, there was no secretary to report membership, he said.

So Quimper Grange is still on the state books as having 60 members.

Meetings, however, draw a only handful of people.

“We’re not broke,” Clemens said. “We’re defunct because of lack of participation.”

It’s not something that came as a surprise.

When he joined the Grange in 2004, members knew that they needed to concentrate on recruitment, Clemens said.

But the core group of active members decided to focus first on renovating the building.

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