Golden Empire Grange celebrates its 60th anniversary

Bruce Lester and Dave Craigen. Lester was recognized for over 30 years for his support and that of the bridge at the Grange, and Craigen was recognized for being the Grange’s 911 one-on-one emergency response team for 30 years.
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La Grange is an organization that began in 1867, expanding from Civil War destruction to rural fields and farmland. Southern farms were in poor condition and farm animals were exhausted. Transport infrastructure was in shambles, with few rail services to transport crops and animals to market, as rails, bridges and rail yards were destroyed.

An era began that encouraged farming families to unite on common ground to promote community and agricultural welfare, rebuild farmland, restore the railway system, and establish a system rural mail delivery. Thus, the Grange organization was created. Today, the Grange has grown into an all-state community service organization. Our history and heritage still supports a strong interest in agriculture, healthy communities, fun and friendships – where new friends are made and old friends are cherished.

Golden Empire Grange No. 806 was a dream of Walter and Goldie LeRoy, with its conception in July 1962. It is located off LaBarr Meadows Road, half a mile from the corner of McKnight Road.

Last July, members celebrated the Grange’s 60th anniversary and recognized long-time members.


Jan McElwain has been recognized as a member for 60 years. She is one of the founding members of the 1962 Articles of Incorporation document. And as First Secretary, she wrote the first check. She has been a member for 60 years. Don’t believe it, just hang out with her and she will share stories of bringing her little girls to many events and how Grange President Walter LeRoy sheltered his family during the winter of 1963, which brought a lot of snow and they had no heat. A little girl was so ill that the local doctor made a house call at the McCoys’ home. It’s like being a member of the Grange, each one doing something for someone.

David Craigen was recognized for being part of Grange’s 911 emergency response team for 30 years. He was the building manager of the Grange, rushing to the Grange for plumbing leaks, bathroom water overflows, lightning strikes that shut off the water, researched affordable repair options for our HAVC units broke, installed a hot water tank, replaced the plumbing, fixed the dry rot and was the building watchdog. He has done janitorial duties and worked for free since the pandemic broke out, paying out of pocket for many items including toilet paper and building repairs. He was president for many years. The continued existence of The Grange is due to David’s support.

Bruce Lester has been recognized for over 30 years for his support and that of the Grange Bridge. The bridge club has met at the Grange for over 30 years. Bruce is a member of the American Contract Bridge League and the American Bridge Teachers Association. Accomplishments include Accredited Master Instructor and Deck Manager, Lifetime Deck Master status.

Over the past 20 years, the Bridge Club had between 15 and 18 tables (four at each table) playing Bridge five days a week, or about 250 people a week. Thank you Bruce and the Bridge Club for all you have done to keep the Grange running.

Sydney Hunt was recognized for her over 20 years as a member. She grew up in Middletown, Lake County, and began attending Guenoc Grange No. 373 when she was about 5 years old, accompanying her grandparents to meetings and then enjoying refreshments. Sydney’s great aunt, uncle and grandparents were farmers. and held positions at the Grange, so the Grange has been his home for a long time.

His great-aunt and uncle had lived on a piece of land in the 1845 Mexican land grant, Rancho Guenoc.

Ballroom dancing brought Sydney to the Grass Valley Golden Empire Grange. When she walked in, she felt right at home. She became responsible for Saturday night ballroom dancing with live music and enjoyed singing along with the musicians.

In 2003, Sydney was the President and her many accomplishments include coordinating the paint job inside the Grange, rescuing the Grange through several burglaries, and electric smoke at their New Year’s Eve party.

Dave Jappay was recognized for his over 20 years as a member. Dave has spent many hours repairing the barn’s many needs. He attended many ballroom dances. Every Saturday night you could look over the dance floor and see Dave dancing. Dave is a dedicated member who has been showing up to meetings overseeing many projects for over 20 years.

Lilo Koegler was recognized for her 20+ year membership. She ballroom danced to live music at the Grange for decades. She always had a smile and was friendly with everyone.

Mary Carrell was recognized for her more than 20 years of involvement. Mary is a square dancer and has relayed the comments of square dancers on the Grange for decades. She was the go-between for the upgrades paid for by the square dancers.

Mary always had a list of barn upgrades wanting to keep the barn in pristine condition. For example, if she saw ceiling tiles sagging, she would report it immediately at the monthly membership meeting. Mary developed an action plan to purchase and display the United States flag, then at a later date she coordinated the purchase of the California flag.

Golden Empire Grange No. 806 tenants include Nevada County Gem and Mineral Society, Goldancers Square Dance Club, Aces ‘N Spaces Bridge Club, Jamie Hogan Country Dancing, Foothill Fusion Dance Club, Weber’s Concealed Carry Certification Classes, Side Kick Line Dancing , Grass Valley 4-Wheelers Club, Karaoke by Steve & Sandy, Gold Country Horse Trails Council, DeSena Fire Safe Consulting and Training, plus one-time rentals for functions, parties or memorials. For more information, call 530-477-9586.

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