By MARK NOAH
For the Capital Press
Do you know what the Grange is? Want to bet on it? The odds are that you've recently seen or heard the name "Grange" on television or radio, or received glossy mailers with our name splashed across the front. But if you believe the real Grange has anything to do with casinos then I'm sorry but you just lost your money.
I originally joined Mohawk-McKenzie Grange, northeast of Springfield, Ore., near those rivers' confluence, because of a girl. Susan Cramer and her folks, Charlie and Helen, belonged and I quickly realized that if I wanted to spend more time with her -- and get in good with the parents -- I'd better join.
Susan and I have been married since 1976 but active Grangers since 1968 and 1974, respectively. The Grange that Susan and I know is a community- and family-oriented fraternal nonprofit dedicated to helping people improve their lives and their communities. There are Granges out in the country but there are Granges in the city, too, likely closer than you think.
There are 180 Granges in Oregon and around 2,500 nationwide. We have meetings and potlucks; we engage in community service projects like collecting labels for education and donating dictionaries and other books to school kids. We put on plays and we host jam sessions -- the music or the preserves! We hold fundraisers for college scholarships and new roofs and community causes.
An active Grange can be a real center of community activity whether it is 20 miles southeast of Florence on Fiddle Creek, or just off I-205 at Clackamas, or down Upper Applegate Road or behind the Fred Meyer store. Just ask the folks at Ada or Sunnyside or Applegate or Redmond Granges. Even a Boring Grange can be active. Just ask the folks out there in East Clackamas County.
If we are the "real" Grange, then who are these other guys? They are out-of-town developers who apparently decided that the goodwill, community feeling and positive energy inherent in the name "Grange" would help them promote their push for a private casino at Wood Village.
The Grange has existed in Oregon since 1873, earning a good name in communities far and wide, and in a few short weeks these outside operators have flooded Oregon with advertising that associates us with their proposal. As you might imagine, real Grange members statewide are angry and the office of the Oregon State Grange in Salem has been flooded with negative reactions.
The National Grange's legal team advised the casino group of their trademark infringement and eventually a settlement was negotiated in which the casino group acknowledged their misuse of our name, issued a public apology in the newspapers and agreed to place a disclaimer on all of their future advertising.
As is typical in trademark infringement cases, the infringer was given some time to "wind down" their illegal use of our name, allowing them to minimize the expense of changing labels, stationery and advertising. As of Nov. 8 the casino group must fully cease and desist, and destroy or turn over to the National Grange all materials bearing our trademarked name.
Of course they are taking every advantage of the time they have left, to the displeasure of most real Grange members. It is interesting to note that even if this casino is approved by the voters, it will not bear the name under which it has been so aggressively marketed.
The casino group has acted with an apparent arrogance and obvious lack of consideration that is alarming and raises questions about their plans and intentions. That such a well-financed operation neglected to do the simple research that would have immediately revealed that the Grange name is trademarked by the National Grange does not inspire confidence with regard to their future activities.
Betting on whether this casino operation will benefit Oregon is a real long shot. The Oregon State Grange has gone on record as opposing statewide ballot measures 82 and 83, the initiatives that would legalize the Wood Village casino development.
I urge you to join us in voting "no" on these initiatives.
Mark Noah of Springfield, Ore., is a long-time Grange member.