Dec. 15—Nestled among pine trees along Highway 200 between Thompson Falls and Trout Creek lies a small aging building called the Whitepine Grange #102.
It was built in 1961 by local craftsman with volunteer labor to give the community a place to hold local events. Throughout its many years, supporting the local area, it has been known as a polling place, a dancehall, a community center and now is a chapter of the National Grange organization.
The national grange was founded as a community organization with its roots in agriculture and was founded in 1867, with a goal of helping and improving local communities.
As years passed and the local Whitepine Grange membership decreased to the point that the building was left empty for many years. But this past year the Whitepine Grange has tripled its membership.
Much of that increase, in membership, can be attributed to Jan Manning. As longtime resident of the area, her connection to the Grange came from needing a place to run a dog training business. That connection quickly gave her a great place to train dogs, but also landed her as the new president of the Whitepine Grange. As the new president, Manning felt that the community needed to once again contribute to the local area. Just recently they have distributed special dictionaries for 3rd graders to the local schools in Sanders County. They have helped sponsor Christmas gifts for needy children in the area as well as donating care packages to Montana military members deployed overseas.
Manning is excited to see the increase in membership and is hoping to see more younger people joining in the future.
The Whitepine Grange would like to offer the community access to the hall for local activities such as craft fairs, community dances, pot lucks and as a wedding venue.
The building has seen very little maintenance over the years except for the installation of vinyl siding In the 1980s or 90s. The harsh winters have taken their toll and the siding needs replaced. New windows need to be installed and flooring needs to be added to cover up the plywood.
Estimates for replacing the siding range from $11,000 to $18,000. The Grange's only source of income is from a yearly membership fee and renting out the hall.
The Grange has setup a GoFundME page on Facebook https://www.gofundme.com/f/whitepine-granges-restoration-campaign.
If anyone is interested to attending a Grange meeting they are on the forth Tuesday of each month. For more information go to their Facebook page. Whitepine Grange 102