Board Highlights

By John McFerrin

The spring Board meeting was a mixture of the same old, same old, issue reports, and excitement for the future.

For same old, same old we had the treasurer’s report and the Voice Editor’s report.  Treasurer Bob Marshall said that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the expenses or revenue.  Money going out; money coming in.  Meeting our bills.  Voice editor John McFerrin made a plea for more stories.  Much of the Voice is about litigation, issues, etc.; he would welcome stories about issues, etc. but also about just having fun, hiking, and things like that.

We got hope for the future from reports on membership, the Hiking Guide, and the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

For previous editions, we had depended upon Allen De Hart and Bruce Sundquist to do the Hiking Guide.  Since they have both died since we published the eighth edition, we were a bit at sea for the ninth edition.  Frank (who has done prodigious work in getting the Guide distributed) used to start Board meeting reports on the next edition by shaking his head.

Now Hugh Rogers been working on the ninth edition.  Although he was not there, he had submitted a report that gladdened our hearts and gave us hope.  He has done considerable editing and we are making progress toward being able to print a ninth edition.  He is approaching the point where the services of someone who knows a lot about layout and readying it for publication are required.  He has been in conversation with a professional who says she can whip it into shape for between $2,000 and $2,500.  We decided to go ahead and hire someone to do that.

We still don’t have pictures selected, etc. and there is more editing and layout to do but we are moving forward.  If we run out of books before we get the 9th edition finished we will do a limited reprint of the 8th edition.  Frank reports that we have enough of the 8th edition in stock to carry us through the end of this hiking season, more or less through October.

We talked briefly about Allen de Hart’s royalties.  In his will he had directed that they be paid to Louisburg College.  It was the sense of the Board that we would continue paying those royalties on the 9th edition.

We were also heartened by the report of administrative assistant Beth Little.  She distributed reports comparing membership numbers over the past several years.  Membership has gone up since the last report.

Her duties have expanded since she began, mostly with the additional duties involved in the on-line store.  She had been subcontracting some of her work, particularly the writing of thank you notes to large donors.  Now the person she was subcontracting with can’t do it any more.  She and some others are casting about for a way to solve the problems that not having this person any more has caused and, more generally, dealing with Beth’s expanded workload.  One thing that we are going to try is letting Board members take home the supplies for writing thank you notes and assuming responsibility for writing thank you notes for a while.  Cindy Rank took the supplies and will try out this system to see how it works.

Finally, we heard about plans for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. Dave Saville is going to be the event coordinator so he was there to talk about plans. He and the committee had made up a list of people and organizations to invite.  They passed around the list and we all got to sign up for those we would be willing to invite.  We will receive instruction on making the contacts, etc.  The idea is that we will offer people and organizations different ways to be engaged.  They could attend, encourage members to attend, sponsor, etc.  He would also like to have a display of memorabilia—WVHC T-shirts from different eras, old brochures, old documents, etc.  Should anyone have something to display, he or she should contact the committee.

Dave also had 50th Anniversary items—T shirt and bandana—for sale.  They are already available on the web site. See photo on p. 9 or photo with supermodel on p. 5.

While these things gave us hope for the future, the present (at least the Legislative present) was another story.  Frank reported that e-council lobbyists had been beaten severely about the face and head (figuratively speaking) at the West Virginia Legislature.  Three bills which may or will degrade water quality passed.  About the only good news he had to report was that proposed laws on forced pooling and the right to trespass did not pass.  The LEEP bill to create incentives for energy efficiency came close to passing; in the context of this Legislative session, this is considered a victory.  Our initiative on new siting rules for windfarms didn’t make any progress.  The e-council lobbyist could not find enough Senators or Delegates willing to sponsor the bill to give it any chance of passing, or even being considered.  For details on legislative matters, see the story on p. 4 of this issue.

We also had reports on what we are doing.  Marilyn Shoenfeld talked about monitoring federal legislation and our role in it.  She reported that West Virginians for Public Lands (Formerly Birthplace of Rivers) and the Wilderness Society were actively working on this issue and that we could be most effective joining in and supporting their efforts.

In matters of outreach, Cindy Ellis reported that she had tabled at the West Virginia Legislature, West Virginia State University, and Marshall University.  She gave away WVHC pens, bookmarks, and copies of The Highlands Voice.  There were receptive passers-by at both events, with an especially lively turn-out at Marshall.

We had a report from the webmaster.  He still has been dealing with the aftermath of the hack from last fall, getting everything restored, etc.  We are pretty well over that and most of the website has been restored.

In matters of coal, Cindy Rank reported that we had reached a settlement on litigation about old mines where West Virginia had agreed to assume responsibility for cleanup.  West Virginia has not been as diligent as it agreed to in previous settlements but now there is an additional agreement with a revised timetable on when it has to have the problems at several sites corrected.  She also mentioned that the study by the National Academy of Science of the impact of surface mining on public health has begun.  There will be a series of public hearings, including one May 22-24 in Charleston, WV.  It is not clear the format of the hearing.

In matters of oil and gas, Frank and Cindy Ellis reported that there is not much visible, public opposition to the Mountaineer XPress Pipeline in 14 western West Virginia Counties.  We noted that we had joined in with other groups in filing comments on state as well as federal permitting for pipelines such as the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline that pass through West Virginia.

George Hack had been reviewing the Summary of Proposed Action routinely issued by the Forest Service.  They list projects that the Forest Service is considering or undertaking on the Monongahela National Forest.  The latest one shows mostly ongoing projects.  There is a new proposal to re-do the picnic area at Dolly Sods. George will check further into the details and potential impact of the project.

Lunch was pot luck.  Helen Ann Graffious had provided dessert and drinks and several Board members brought stuff.  It was a feast.

Since we were in or near the epicenter of all things buckwheat, the door prize was a collection of buckwheat themed items, provided by our hostess Helen Ann Graffious.  Frank won.

The July 22nd Summer Board meeting will be at the Yew Mountain Center in Hillsboro, WV.