Chairman Column on RI and IN Improvements, Awards, and Conventions

It’s certainly been an interesting quarter, so let’s get to it.

Kyle Cummings took and ran with a suggestion by his Scoutmaster Ken Hendrickson in Kentucky to improve the Indiana highpoint for his Eagle Scout project. Talk about exceeding expectations. When Highpoint Liaison Coordinator Charlie Winger mentioned it, I thought it would be a homerun if they just replaced the broken down stile and weeded around the highpoint a bit. But what transpired was absolutely amazing. Kyle got Kim Goble’s permission to improve the highpoint. He built whole new signs, persuaded the Randolph County Commissioners to add new road signs, built huge new signs for the highpoint, got Richmond contractors to donate gravel for a new parking lot (and then got a neighbor farmer to spread it), built a bat box to try to deal with the highpoint’s infamous mosquitoes, and then got his Scout troop to work two weekends clearing the area around the highpoint as well as creating a trail through the woods. The Club picked up the tab for some equipment, picnic lunch and new picnic tables. Wow!

It seemed that would be the highlight of the quarter. Then things got very interesting in Rhode Island. The owner wanted to sell. Dave Covill worked the problem trying to get public or non-profit ownership of Jerimoth. It went as far as Stony Burk driving in two days from New Hampshire to talk to the Rhode Island governor and a U.S. Senator about it. Then it was announced that Jeff and Deb Mosley bought the property. Again I had my trepidations.

But lo and behold following the 4th of July visitation, the Mosleys posted a small comment on the article on our blog saying Highpointers were not causing the problems they had been told about, and consequently they were going to permit visitations 8 to 3 p.m. each weekend 52 weeks a year.

The blog item in turn got picked up by the Providence Journal and was published in newspapers from coast to coast. Soon NPR radio’s Robert Siegel called for a 4 minute interview on “All Things Considered” and then the “It’s Only A Game” on NPR paid a 7 minute visit—both of which are now published on our Highpointers podcast.

That was just the beginning, Jeff and Deb Mosley visited the Highpointers Convention in New Hampshire and then an astounding number of Highpointers visited Jerimoth over Labor Day weekend to install signs and a mailbox register, and lay down pea gravel for a trail to the summit. It truly was a site to behold.

Oh, did I mention that we held a convention too?

In 19 years of conventions, we’ve never had a bad time at a convention. Highpointers somehow always know how to make magic. This year was no exception. Some complained about some cost, location and date. But that’s a bit like complaining about the New England Patriots not being a great football team because they only won the last 3 Superbowls by 3 points.

The Club Board did however decide to have arch convention organizer Nikki Hemphill to act as the official convention liaison to make sure the conventions stay on track for common sense and club culture.

The two major presentations by Jim Sutton for Wisconsin and Bill and Steve Urbanski (aka the Flying Urbanski Brothers) showed the sensitivities to the cost and club culture. The Urbanskis even met with Bellefontaine tourism officials shortly before the convention. However, once the membership started chanting “Cheese,” it was hard to beat the drive for Wisconsin in 2007.

And of course there’s the Sherman and Sharmon Stambaugh organized 2006 convention on Mount Mitchell on Aug. 4-5.
Many thanks go to Thom Davis and Stevo Harding at Purity Springs for pulling off a very successful convention. The convention will be tied to the sad events associated with Hurricane Katrina which kept some members from attending as they either had homes destroyed or were working on the recovery efforts (and in some cases both). The hurricane also closed highpoints in the Northeast in driving storms the week before the convention and caused a spectacular spike where gas prices jumped 25 to 50 cents a gallon each day.

I was personally gratified that all 15 board members attended the convention. That’s no small feat. Next year there will be at least four new board members as Dave Covill, Don Holmes, Jean Trousdale and Diane Winger will have to step down according to mandatory two-term term limits. Term limits do keep you from burning out but they’re a bit unnerving as you don’t want to lose people who do so much for the club—although no doubt all will remain active and continue to have influence. An informal poll of the general membership indicated that the club was pretty evenly split on the benefit of term limits thus the status quo will take effect as there was no mandate otherwise.

As mentioned, Don, who is Club President, will step down next year. The board voted unanimously to give him the Jack Longacre Award—the highest award the club can bestow for his service. While Jack came up with the idea of forming a club, it was Don who made it into a reality, working out the nuts and bolts of running a club, creating its Bylaws, emceeing the banquets, updating his guidebook, and helping to secure 501-c-7 tax status. Don is the only living club member to receive the award. The only other two to receive it were the late Paul Zumwalt and Jack Longacre.

Another significant award was the Vin Hoeman Award, which this year went to Charlie and Diane Winger. As mentioned Charlie is the Liaison Coordinator and Diane also organizes the Volunteers.

Five Frank Ashley Awards were handed out. Kyle Cummings and Ken Henrickson received them for work on Indiana; Robert Hyman received one for his work towards getting the Washington, DC, Fort Reno highpoint surveyed and monumented. David Powers received an award for his work on keeping the club up to date on the state purchase of Sassafras Mountain in SC. Steve Tursi received an award for his work on the Newsletter, taking over the important Milestones Column. Steve has also contributed mightily on computer projects and is working on a program to move the forum and archives from its current third party web site.

Keep Klimbin’

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