Thursday, December 3, 2015

A New Beginning

During the 149th Annual Session of the National Grange, delegates from each state elected a new slate of national officers. Among this group was Betsy Huber, the newly elected President and the first woman to hold that office in the history of the organization. 

Ms. Huber is currently employed by the Pennsylvania State Grange as the Government Relations Director where she works to advance the policies of the Grange within the PA State Legislature. She is a member of Chester-Delaware County Pomona Grange #3 and Goshen Grange #121. Betsy started her Grange involvement at a very young age as a member of the Juvenile (now known as Junior) Grange. She has held numerous positions with her local Grange and with the Pennsylvania State Grange, including serving eight years as President, the first woman to hold that position.

As the National Grange President, Ms. Huber will work with the National Grange staff to advance Grange policies in Washington D.C.; as well as oversee the day to day operations of the organization. The Grange, legislative work, and agriculture have always been an important part of her life. She previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Grange (chairperson 2007-14) and is also the executive secretary for the Pennsylvania Young Farmers Association. She has also held various positions in the agricultural community that include serving on the boards of the PA State Council of Farm Organizations (President 2011-12), the Governor's Census 2010 Advisory Panel, the PA Department of Agriculture Fertilizer Advisory Committee, the PA Department of Environmental Protection Ag Advisory Board (Chair 2007), and PA Farm Link. She was employed as district aide to State Representative Arthur D. Hershey from 1992-2002.

She has also served her community as township supervisor for Upper Oxford Township for 24 years, chairman of the Township Agricultural Security Area Advisory Committee, treasurer of the Chester County Association of Township Officials and as member of the PSATS Land Use Committee and Resolutions Committee. She has also served the Avondale Presbyterian Church as Elder, Deacon, Trustee and choir member.

Ms. Huber was elected to the Penn State Board of Trustees by the delegates from agricultural societies in 2005 and serves on the Committee on Outreach, Development, and Community Relations and the Governance and Long Range Planning Committee.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Response to Mass Shootings

The question of the day is: What is the difference between a democracy and a republic?

One answer is that in a democracy if your side gets 50 percent plus one of the votes, whatever you wanted gets done, even if you take rights away from the losing side. In a republic, you can never take any rights, as listed in the governing documents, away from the law-abiding citizens, but in all issues not based upon those rights, the majority prevails.

What brought this to mind was an interview on the local Monday morning news. I believe I heard the woman being interviewed about the shooting at Umpqua Community College say, “America must do something.” The rest of the segment talked about guns. You may draw your own conclusions about what the message contained in that report.

In a democracy, it is possible to have knee-jerk reaction to a shooting and ban the “bad” gun. In our republic, it is not so easy, as everyone is bound by the constraints of the Constitution and it is the individual who must bear responsibility. 

I hear and read about politicians who want to ban certain guns, ammunition, or simply make it more difficult to own any firearms. Now in this country everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the second amendment is fairly clear to me. I have a right to own a handgun or a rifle or a shotgun or several of each. What I don’t have a right to do is to harm another person except in defense of myself or others.

A few elected officials or candidates have talked about dealing with the issue of mental health. A few have talked about the dangers of gun-free zones. Most just talk about gun control; which from their statements is simply the reduction or removal of the right of law-abiding citizens to buy and own guns.

Why are we not having a serious discussion on the very real issue of helping those who have a mental illness which may cause them to harm themselves or others? Why does our society refuse to help that tiny part of our population who cannot help themselves? A few more beds in hospitals that are equipped to deal with mental illness might be the first step that allows families and even judges to get these people help. 

Why are we not talking about the risks of gun-free zones? Schools, theaters, and other locations that by law or by choice are designated gun-free zones have been the location of most of the mass shootings over the past few decades. Why would we believe that mentally ill or even worse, the evil individuals who desire to harm others are somehow stupid? The evidence before us shows that most prefer to carry out their horrid deeds where there is the least risk to themselves. As an example, courthouses are normally gun-free zones and yet are the scene of few mass shootings. Is this fact due to the constant presence of armed law enforcement officers?

It is time for America to do something. Insane and evil people are committing hideous crimes and we do nothing to address the problem except talk. Politicians are turning serious issues into political fodder to further their own agenda. 

How will our society deal with those suffering from mental illnesses? The debate on this complex issue must be moved to the front of the line. For the sake of those who suffer from mental illness and their families, we cannot ignore this issue any longer.

Discussions in every community about the risks of gun-free zones must happen. Who carries the liability for protecting people who enter a gun-free zone? Is there a risk or what kind of risk is there for not having a gun-free zone versus the clear risk of having such zones?

It is time for each American to remember that we live in a republic and we must seek answers that don’t undermine the very foundation of our nation. If we can erase the 2nd amendment with legalize and regulation, what prevents the same from happening to the rest of the Bill of Rights?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Coffee in My Grange Experience

Today is National Coffee Day. I have to admit that I enjoy a good cup of coffee with nothing added. It may seem strange, but the reason that I began drinking coffee was due to the Grange. As a teenager, I started visiting other Granges to meet other youth and because it was a lot of fun.

I learned quickly that many Granges at that time didn’t provide anything to drink but coffee, and the water was much better after being boiled. Soon I developed a taste for coffee and a cup of Joe is still not only a safe drink, but an enjoyable one that I look forward to.

Today, many coffee shops will run specials and giveaways, with the goal of gaining some new loyal customers. Do you realize that every month nearly 2,000 Granges located in 40 states plus the District of Columbia offer specials and giveaways to attract and retain members?

Grange specials are not just a free or discounted cup of java, they are based in who we are and what we offer. Just as you can add flavors and ingredients to coffee to flavor it to suit your taste, so each Grange has a different and unique flavor based upon the members.

Share a moment, or a lifetime, with good people who see value in the principles of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Fidelity. Be with people who want to see you reach your full potential as a person through education, fun, and friendship. 

Experience the power of unity in improving your community through empowering the individual. Each member has full voice and vote in what each Grange does in their community, which is a truly American philosophy. The Grange motto of “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity” clearly states the Grange view.

Enjoy a cup of coffee, or maybe more than one, today. Then remember that when the coffee cup is empty, your Grange friends will still be there with you, helping, encouraging, and maybe even making another pot of coffee.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Police Officer Shootings

Watching the news reports of the shooting of Deputy Darren H. Goforth in the Houston, Texas area is an exercise in frustration.  It seems from the media that our nation has seen several murders of policemen in the past few months.

I heard a CNN reporter speak of it as an execution. Moments later a contributor was talking about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement as if there is any reasonable excuse for murdering a police officer.

Rural American tends to have a different view of our law enforcement professionals than what is seen on the news today. We believe that most State Police, Sheriff Deputies, and local police officers are good people doing a tough job. A job that requires them to deal with people who make stupid mistakes, those who make bad choices, and even those who have chosen evil and wrongdoing as their path in life. They do this job to protect others and enable our society to function. This job is often done at great risk to the officer’s safety, even their very life.

There are three things that we all need to understand.

1. All lives matter. It doesn’t matter what color you are, where you came from, what you do for a living, your stage of life, or what the balance in your checkbook is; every life has value. We do not believe that you condemn a group because of the action of an individual, much less condemn a group due to media coverage. We respect the individual who conducts themselves with dignity and treats others with respect. We require due process for those who violate the laws of our nation.

2. We need to teach our children that police serve society. They are authority figures that deserve respect, just as a teacher or minister does. We understand that any person who threatens another with harm, or otherwise violates the law, must take responsibility for their actions. If your actions threaten the lives of police or citizens, you should be prepared for the consequences.

3. Bad apples, both police and citizens, must be dealt with. If a police officer violates the trust that the public has in him or her, they should be punished. If citizens violate the law, they should suffer the consequences of their actions. No one should expect to get away with theft from, or harm to another individual.

Our society needs everyone to be a participant. Police officers enforce the law, citizens obey the law, and everyone looks out for each other. Each person takes responsibility for their actions. These are our American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Any other option will result in damage to our society. After all, no society can selectively choose which laws to obey and retain the rule of law.

The Grange is proud to support our law enforcement professionals and the Constitution and laws of the land. Check out your local Grange to find out how they are accomplishing this task.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Spectrum Need

The United States is experiencing a “Mobile Revolution”. Experts predict that by 2020 the number of connected devices will reach 50 billion. 

The “Mobile Revolution” is changing how Americans communicate and manage nearly every aspect of daily life. These advancements have made life easier, more enjoyable, and more productive for the millions who have embraced these innovative technologies. Among those who are embracing and relying on wireless broadband services at an increasingly rapid pace – although often over looked – are farmers, ranchers, and others who make up our rural communities. 

Mobile broadband connectivity has become an increasingly important part of life for rural America. Many farmers rely heavily on applications to provide critical weather and crop information while access to high speed wireless services and products allow rural Americans to have greater access to telemedicine, educational opportunities, and provide vital connections to public safety. 

Congress is currently considering legislation to reallocate spectrum from the federal government for commercial use by mobile broadband providers. In fact, on July 19 the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing titled “Wireless Broadband and the Future of Spectrum Policy” .

Hearings such as this are important stepping-stones for ensuring future mobile broadband connectivity and creating solid public policy that allows all Americans to take full advantage of mobile technologies now and in the future. With the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) and the majority of consumers opting for the latest smartphones, tablets, or other connected devices – mobile broadband providers are facing a swiftly approaching spectrum shortage.  

This is cause for concern for all Americans but particularly for our rural communities. Spectrum is critical to expanding high-speed mobile broadband and the demand for spectrum has never been higher. It’s estimated that wireless Internet traffic in North America is expected to grow more than 41-fold from 2011 to 2016, which is why it’s so critical for Congress to infuse more spectrum into the commercial market.

We are facing this shortage because the federal government is sitting on an overwhelming majority of spectrum.  However, clearing and deploying new spectrum takes years, so in order to ensure a steady stream of spectrum to meet consumer demand, we have to begin now.

Repurposing spectrum held by the federal government for commercial use will generate significant economic activity. The Federal Communications Commission recently concluded a spectrum auction, which raised a groundbreaking $45 billion, money that’s used to reduce our growing national deficit.

The National Grange believes high-speed mobile broadband will dramatically improve life in rural America. It will create opportunities for young Americans to pursue their interests in rural America, while remaining connected with the entire globe. It will aid our older citizens to remain healthier and independent in their golden years. We must pursue all available options to provide the same high-speed wireless access seen in suburban communities to rural America. 

Now is the time for congress to pass legislation that creates a long-term and predictable future for releasing valuable spectrum in order to meet the growing consumer demand for wireless technology.