2006-11-02 / News

The Grange Report

By Charlotte Richardson

Oct. 29, 2006 was a banner day for Conanicut Grange

21, as nearly 60 people gathered to take part in a dual celebration. The first, to honor and celebrate Conanicut Granger Robert W. Sutton Jr., who was named 2006 Agriculturist of the year by the Rhode Island State Grange Agriculture Department, Walter and Norma Elwell, cochairs. Also celebrated was the 117th anniversary of the founding of Conanicut Grange #21 on Oct. 29, 1889. By 2 p.m., the hall was filled, and we were delighted to welcome dignitaries from many parts of the state and just as pleased to greet a great number of Jamestowners on hand for the festivities.

The immediate past master of the Rhode Island State Grange Raymond Kruszyna and his wife Lillian were on hand to present an award to Conanicut Grange for its second consecutive year of achieving a net gain in membership.

Pomona County members of Newport and Washington County Pomona Granges were on hand to be seated as the officers of the day. Walter Elwell, master of Newport County Pomona Grange, presided over the opening ceremonies. Turning to our long and illustrious past, the meeting was opened in full form in the traditional order and pageantry of Grange meetings that have been in place since the founding of the National Grange in 1867. The officers were impressive as they marched into the music-filled hall. The Bible was opened. The flag of the U.S.A. was presented with all due dignity.

Following the opening ceremony, the meeting was turned over to me, Conanicut's Master Charlotte Richardson, who presented a brief history of Conanicut Grange with the emphasis on the great need to keep farmers farming as in, No Farms - No Food. I welcomed everyone, noting that the audience would find the Grange language and procedures a bit unusual, but the welcome warm and genuine.

Escorted to the front of the hall, were dignitaries: Jamestown's state Representative Bruce Long, Town Council Vice President Julio DiGiando, Robert W. Sutton Jr. and his wife Lynda Sutton, their daughter-in-law Nancy Sutton, and their grandchildren Adeline and Tyler of North Kingstown. Also in the audience, was their son, Jay Sutton.

The program turned to telling the story of Bob. How he came to live in Jamestown, and why he was the Rhode Islander selected to receive the award. A Certificate of Recognition was presented to Bob, and he was invited to speak. As always, he made it clear that he sees himself as part of a large team of people who share his goal to keep Jamestown a pastoral and rural community, to protect the farms, farmlands, wetlands, and open space. He also noted that there are a great many volunteers who work on the Jamestown Community Farm, making it possible to continue from year to year. Bob accepted the award on behalf of all of those who continue to work together to achieve their goals.

A Woman Behind the Man Certificate was awarded to Lynda Sutton, who has worked right along with Bob and all of the other volunteers at the community farm and shares his love of farming and farmhouses. Lynda strives to keep alive the handiwork, arts and crafts that grace our homes today, but which grew out of the ingenious and inventive skills of men and women of days long gone to meet the needs of their families.

Walter Elwell read a citation for Bob, from the Honorable Governor of Rhode Island Donald Carcieri. Representative Bruce Long read a proclamation from the state House of Representatives, and presented a proclamation from Senator M. Terese Paiva-Weed, who sent her apologies for being unable to attend. Town Council Vice President Julio DiGiando presented the council's proclamation honoring Bob, which declared Oct. 29, 2006 to be Robert W. Sutton Day.

The program ended with the traditional closing of the Bible, retiring of the American flag, and the meeting was closed. Amid much applause, the officers marched out, and meeting was over. Everyone enjoyed the delicious dessert and sandwich buffet that followed. We extend our sincere thanks to members of the Grange and the Jamestown Senior Citizens Association, who worked so willingly to make the refreshment tables a work of art. Thank you Jean Esposito, Frances Mackabee, Josephine Rafanelli, and Eleanor Wright.

All in all, it was a great day, and we appreciate all of those who chose to spend their Sunday afternoon with Conanicut Grange & Company.

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