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Chairman Column on Rhode Island Federal Funds

The big highpointer news this quarter came from Rhode Island and it was really good news.

A week before the November election, U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee announced that $1 million had been allocated to formally purchase access rights to the trail leading to the Jerimoth summit as well as the purchase of all or part of 138 acres on the south and east end of the summit.

Highpointer Stony Burk had been meeting with Senator Chafee for almost two years to work out some kind of government ownership of Jerimoth.

The plans to purchase Jerimoth were short circuited in 2005 when Jeffrey and Deborah Mosley bought the property before the deal could be closed. Happily Jeffrey and Deborah have been enthusiastically supporting access to the summit.

While the voters of Rhode Island turned out Republican Chafee a week after the announcement, the Highpointers Club was not quite so vengeful.

Last summer in North Carolina we awarded Stony the Vin Hoeman Award. Stony has been giving up his weekends and holidays for more than five years to ensure access to Rhode Island. For four of those years he would chaperone the “authorized” visits and then after the Mosleys bought the property Stony has been meeting every few months with Senator Chafee.

It’s hard to imagine anybody any more deserving of the award.

Meanwhile, the other champion of Rhode Island Dave Covill is off on a new project – starting up the Highpointers Foundation to handle fund raising for highpointing good works. The advantage of a foundation is that donations to it would be tax deductible and thus the foundation would be eligible for corporate donations or a vehicle for donations from estates.

It’s a lot of work and we do appreciate the immense amount of effort Dave and his crew are putting into this.

The 501-c-3 foundation is 100 percent independent of the club (which as a 501-c-7 organization is considered “social” and thus non-tax deductible). The Club has no financial obligations whatsoever for the running of the foundation and has no formal say in its running.

But of course we have an interest in its success. Tim Webb has appointed Will Mokszycki to be the official liaison for the club to the foundation. This fall, the Club also donated the entire Good Guys and Gals Fund to the foundation as seed money to get the foundation started. If things take off we will donate the Zumwalt fund to the Foundation. Both of those funds come from donations from members who want to contribute something extra for highpointing.

Another event that occurred this quarter was a response to a question about whether the board would recognize a visit to some place other than the tower at Mount Mitchell as a visit to the highpoint while the tower is being rebuilt over the next few months. We did this during the darkest days of Rhode Island. However we’ve chosen that going forward we’re not going to make exceptions for visits to the actual physical highest point.

Even on highpoints that are seemingly easy drive ups, you need to take into account special conditions and have to plan accordingly. The whole highpoint completion process is honorary anyway and we do this for fun. We’re not there to check to see if you made it.

Speaking of North Carolina, I didn’t submit a column last quarter after the convention there for a variety of reasons including that in August was hijacked by hackers and my former i.s.p. host for pulled the plug without telling me shutting down my email for a while (if I didn’t respond via email there was a reason!). I am told by my new i.s.p. (“internet service provider”) that the sites are the most popular on the new home getting more hits than some major corporate sites on the same server. Who woulda thought our hobby could get so popular!?

I always say that the last convention was my favorite. Every one is so spectacular. And it’s not only because I somehow managed to stay in Elvis Presley’s old room at the convention center. I was astonished to see so many volunteers in the lobby and at various functions. I know of no other club where the volunteers are so enthusiastic.

And of course, I have to say that the Taylor Ranch with its lake and longhorn cattle grazing next door had to be the prettiest venue we’ve ever had.

Special thanks should go to Craig and Mary Jane Noland who did much of the heavy lifting in making local arrangements – all while Craig had been hospitalized for various ailments.

I am very excited about the plans for Wisconsin in 2007. It Jim Sutton has been talking about it for two years. He’s one eloquent s.o.b. when he gets on the podium. I’ll be counting my curds and whey!

And of course Rick Hartman has been breathing, living and celebrating Arizona for 2008 for years.

It’s all good. Keep on Klimbin’!