Angela and John Brigance spruced up the landscaping at the 110 year old Grange building in West Bath, Maine, at the start of the weekend.

[imgcontainer] [img:Grange.jpg] [source]Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press[/source] Angela and John Brigance spruced up the landscaping at the 110-year-old Grange building in West Bath, Maine, at the start of the weekend. [/imgcontainer]

Grange Membership Declines. Membership in the Grange, America’s first nationwide farm and rural organization, is declining, forcing some local halls to close their doors, Clarke Canfield of the Associated Press reports.

In Maine, two more local chapters closed this year. Nationally, active membership fell from about 270,000 to 70,000 from 1991 to 2012, the AP reports:

The heyday for Maine granges was in the 1950s, said Stanley Howe, a longtime grange member who wrote a book about the history of Maine’s granges.

‘‘For years the Grange ran the Maine Legislature. It was a very powerful organization. Almost everybody belonged to the Grange up until the 1950s,’’ he said.

But membership started falling when television became popular in the ’50s, giving people something else to do with their time, he said.

Recruitment of new members remains a challenge, the story reports.

The Grange is officially known as the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. It formed in 1867.

The Fast Lane. Illinois is joining 36 other states by increasing the speed limit for four-lane divided highways. The new speed limit for non-urban areas will be 70, up from 65.

Indian Doctors Protest Rural Service Requirement. Indian medical graduates are protesting a new policy that will require them to serve a one-year mandatory internship in a rural area before continuing their education.

The opponents say that they don’t object to serving in rural areas but that the new policy would interfere with their education and overwhelm the rural health-care system with interns.

India has had difficulty finding enough doctors to serve rural areas.

Rural, Multi-Church Parish Dissolves. A decade ago, five Lutheran churches in rural North Dakota created a single parish, sharing a minister and the other costs of running church programs. Now the experiment in rural ministry is coming to an end, as the parish’s hub congregation, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, is leaving the parish. What happens to the other four congregations in the parish is still up in the air, reports Stephen J. Lee for the Forum News Service.

Turtle River Ministry was an experiment in rural church organization, in which a town-based congregation helped support ministry in smaller churches with smaller, older congregations located further from population centers. But membership has fallen in the Evangelical Lutheran Church parish, from 205 in 2005 to 175 in 2010.

Our Savior’s Church voted in June to end its relationship with the other four congregations.

Mail Carrier Wildlife Survey. Add “wildlife observation” to the list of responsibilities falling on the shoulders of rural mail carriers. In July, 426 rural mail carriers in Nebraska reported their observations on wildlife as they drove 175,181 miles in 89 counties. The annual survey uses mail carriers to provide a snapshot of the state’s wildlife populations. The study is sponsored by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

This year’s survey showed less wildlife than a year ago, the Lincoln Journal-Star reports.

Webinar on Immigration. A representative of the White House will be part of a National Rural Assembly webinar on immigration, 3:30 Eastern Time, Wednesday. The free webinar will focus on the White House report on the economic impact of immigration on agriculture and rural communities.

Panelists will be Felicia Escobar, director of immigration policy at the Domestic Policy Council; Tirso Moreno, director, Florida Farmworkers Association; and Erica Lomelli, policy director of the United Farm Workers Foundation. Panel moderator will be Edyael Casaperalta of the Center for Rural Strategies. (The Center for Rural Strategies publishes the Deesmealz.)

Preregistration for the webinar is required.

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