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Elections Highlight WHTA Annual Meeting *Updated



By Jeffrey Howard

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Annual General Membership meeting of the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association (WHTA) was held on Friday December 2, 2011 at the Cool Springs Marriott.  Tops on the agenda each year are the elections for officers and outgoing board of director seats. 

The nominating committee, chaired by Billy Gray, presented a slate of Bill Cantrell, President; Chad Williams, 1st Vice President and David Landrum, 2nd Vice President.  The outgoing board members were John Allan Callaway, Chris Bobo and Philip Trimble.  The slate to replace these three was Derek Bonner, Joe Fleming and Todd Smith.
 
After presentation of the slate, nominations were taken from the floor.  Jamie Hankins was nominated for president and Mickey McCormick for 1st Vice President.  Chris Bobo, John Allan Callaway, Philip Trimble, Benny Johnson, Mickey McCormick, Dick Peebles, Joe Cotten, Brandye Mills and Travis Craft were nominated for board seats.

Each candidate for president was given an opportunity to address the membership and Hankins led off.  He pointed out that he was a third generation horse trainer and that the WHTA and this industry was all he had and his goal was to benefit and protect its members. 

“I know what makes this association go and we have to start with communication and we must stand together.  I and this association will only be as good as the members in this room,” said Hankins.  Hankins also addressed the communication with USDA and the importance of a relationship of the WHTA with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

He closed by saying, “Our accusers come and go but this association has always been the one to pick the pieces up and continue moving forward.”

Next Cantrell thanked the membership for their support of his presidency in 2011.  “The year 2012 will be a turning point for this association and this industry.  The most important thing facing us and our industry is the mandatory penalties,” said Cantrell.

Cantrell pointed out that he ran on three ideas in 2011 and was proud of the steps taken in each area.  He pointed to the November 30, 2011 meeting as evidence of improved relationships with all organizations and the newsletter as improved communication with the membership.  Cantrell was also proud of the trainers living up to his asking the membership to reaffirm their pledge to show compliant horses.

Before the ballots were filled out, Lynda Motes Hill addressed the membership regarding proxy voting.  Hill pointed out that she and attorney John T. Bobo disagreed on the matter.  Hill pointed out that if you read the bylaws in isolation it points out that voting for officers and directors should be done only be persons in attendance however she argued that because of the ambiguity of the bylaws and the practice of the last 20 years of the WHTA allowing proxy voting it was her opinion that it should be allowed.  Voting by proxy was allowed.

After the ballots were counted, Hankins was elected President and McCormick 1st Vice President.  Landrum was voted by acclamation to the 2nd Vice President spot.  Filling the three seats on the board were Bobo, Bonner and Callaway.  Because Hankins was currently a sitting board of director member, his spot on the board was filled by Trimble who was the fourth largest vote getter from the election.

Link Webb gave the financial report of the WHTA which included $114,996 in total assets.  Outside of the youth council fund and Riders’ Cup fund, Webb shared that the WHTA had $12,137 in their money market account, $15,961 in their operating account, $10,498 in the horse show account and $3,379 in the building fund. 

During the counting of the votes, the floor was opened for new business.  At that time Benny Johnson addressed the upcoming 2012 National Trainers’ Show in White Pine and urged the trainers to “bring your best horses and support your horse show.”  Johnson mentioned the work Larry Wheelon had done on behalf of the WHTA in securing the facility and sponsorships for the show and talked to the multitude of hotel rooms within a five to 10 minute drive of the horse show.

Russ Thompson asked questions centering on the formation of the unity group as a result of the November 30, 2011 meeting.  “As a unity group are we backing one HIO,” asked Thompson?  Cantrell answered with it was too early to speak to that at this point in time and that the agenda of the meeting did not include HIO discussions.

Donnie May questioned that if it was a unity meeting then why were only certain HIOs invited to the meeting.  Cantrell and Wayne Dean pointed out that WHOA and The Celebration were invited as associations and not as representatives of their HIOs.

Dr. Jim Baum addressed the membership and spoke to the importance of a unified voice in the industry.  “I recently attended the AAEP meetings and their number one thing was that the industry is too fragmented,” said Baum.  He continued, “When you deal with outside forces it helps to have everyone under one umbrella.”

“The AAEP looks at this industry as a joke because of the fragmentation and they want us to have one HIO,” concluded Baum.

Dickie Scrivner asked Cantrell why the membership was allowed to vote on the location of the horse show yet the board decided the affiliation without a membership vote.  Cantrell answered, “The board met on October 3, 2011 and discussed many issues that are facing the industry and association and as a result made the decision to affiliate the horse show with SHOW.”  He continued, “Also we (WHTA) voted in 2009 to form SHOW and at that point designate SHOW as the HIO of this association.”

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