- - - from the heart of the plateau - - -

By John McFerrin

Itís Been a Good Four Years

It has been a good four years but it is time to leave. My term as president is over in October; Iím not running for re-election.

During the past four years I have learned a lot. I have learned more about chairing a board meeting. You have to walk that delicate line that allows everybody to have their say while not allowing anybodyís say to last until our bottoms are numb and our eyes rolled back in our heads. You have to work your way to a decision that, if it doesnít please everyone, everyone can at least live with. It is a skill that is easy to overlook and hard to carry out.

I have had the chance to work with wonderful people. When I first became president, Bill Ragette was Voice editor and Richard DiPretoro was Administrative Assistant. They managed to get the Voice out each month and keep up with our membership. Now we have Bill Reed and Dave Saville in those jobs. The Voice is still getting rave reviews; Dave manages our membership. Except for the brief period when Bill was accomplishing the impossible job of learning to be Voice editor and learning to operate a computer all at the same time, I have never spent so much as a nanosecond worrying about either of those things.

Tom Michael has been a joy to work with as treasurer. As if by magic the bills are paid, the budget prepared, the tax forms filed. I am largely clueless about the details. All I know is that our bills are paid and such money as we have is accounted for. From my perspective, it has been a joy.

As an organization, we are as strong now as at any time I can remember. The threat to Blackwater Canyon has energized our members and has brought us new members. One of those new (or at least newly active) members--Peter Shoenfeld--urged us to have a site on the Internet. Now we exist not only in the real world but in the unreal world of cyberspace.

The happy coincidence of Julian Martinís retirement from teaching and the Blackwater Canyon campaign brought Julian into the Conservancy as petition purveyor extraordinaire. Now he is spreading our message and that of Blackwater Canyon throughout the land.

The Blackwater Canyon campaign also gave me a chance to work with Linda Cooper, Judy Rodd, and Vivian Stockman. Another pleasure. Through the Conservancy I have gotten to work that bundle of energy and enthusiasm known as Jason Huber.

I am very proud that we are doing something about mountaintop removal. It is a hard fight but the citizens of West Virginia canít just sit here while our streams are filled and our state is destroyed. I am proud that the Conservancy has been a part of that fight. Just watching Cindy has been an inspiration.

I have managed to make it through four years as president. I have managed to avoid any improper relationships with any interns. I leave the presidency of an active and energetic organization. Even if others are much more responsible for our current health than I am, it still pleases me.

I have benefited greatly from being president. I appreciate the opportunity and only hope that the Conservancy has benefited half as much as I have.