Copyright WHR 2007

By Jeffrey Howard

The December meeting of the TWHBEA Executive Committee was anything but stale as the new members made their presence felt across the membership with the changes made in their initial meeting.  Held on Saturday December 15 at the TWHBEA headquarters in Lewisburg, Tenn. the committee started at 9:00AM and didn’t adjourn until 5:00PM.  The day included a grueling executive session that lasted just short of 5 hours.  The actions taken in that executive session were outlined in a press release (click here for press release) but were highlighted by the immediate resignation of Kristi Lane, rescinding the Sanctioning Plan, the hiring of Stan Butt as interim Executive Director and choosing not to retain the services of Craig Evans.

To begin the meeting President David Pruett asked for any comments from the many guests in attendance at the meeting.  Joni Jenne took the opportunity to welcome the new board and wish them luck.  “I am very proud of the faces in this room,” said Jenne.  She continued “I know you have a daunting task in front of you but you have the majority support of the membership and they are looking forward to working with you.”

As the meeting was then called to order the first task at hand was the issue of the approval of the minutes from the December 1, 2007 and December 4, 2007 executive committee meetings.  Craig Evans pointed out the difficulty in doing this with only 2 holdovers from that Executive Committee on the current committee.  Attorney, John T. Bobo pointed out to the new committee that there were two different issues, the action taken in those meetings and then the approval of those minutes.  The group agreed to table this until the January meeting and agreed that Jamie Hankins and Darren Gray, the two holdovers, would review the minutes and make sure they appeared as they remembered and then make their recommendations to the group.

Greg Cook then addressed the committee and handed out the 2005-2006 audit for each member to have as a reference.  He then addressed the preliminary numbers for 2006-2007 in a memo and gave a quick overview of those numbers.  “The current cash position of TWHBEA is $800,000 less than at this point last year,” said Cook.  He advised the group that $300,000 of that loss was from operations and $500,000 could be attributed to the NWHA lawsuit.  He also pointed out the extraordinary expenses in the year of post employment benefits ($100,000), blood transfer loss ($100,000) and recruiting fees ($50,000).  He then attributed the downturn in the overall Walking Horse market to a reduction of $350,000 in annual revenue.  Membership revenue was down $50,000 compared to the previous year, registrations and transfers were down $200,000 and Voice net income was down $100,000, however the revenues of the Voice magazine were down significantly more than $100,000.

Cook fielded some questions from the group regarding these figures and pointed out that the numbers were rounded for an overview and the final numbers would be out soon.  Bill Stricklend asked “What are the components of the post employment benefits and what makes up this total?”  Cook responded “these are the continued salaries of employees not currently working at TWHBEA.”  Also, Mike Inman requested a copy of the recruitment contract from the firm that recommended Chuck Cadle’s employment.  “Most of these contracts have a 6 or 12 month guarantee of employment for the individual and should have to guarantee a replacement if that person doesn’t meet that required time” said Inman.  With Cadle’s contract buyout earlier this year, he will not have completed 12 months with TWHBEA so this could potentially allow the new Executive Committee to retain those recruitment services again this year at no additional charge.  Inman also pointed out in the 2008 budget he had allowed $25,000 for a potential forensic audit.  Bob Ramsbottom questioned the need for a forensic audit and how it could potentially help the association and concluded by saying “I just want it pointed out where this board is starting out and we need this to be known because of the precarious financial state we are starting with.”

Inman also pointed out to the group that Winnett & Associates from Shelbyville had spent two days in the office that week working with Chuck Cadle and he read a letter from Patrick Lile at Winnett which summarized that he found things in good organizational order.  Winnett & Associates along with Cook & Company will be submitting bids to TWHBEA to perform the monthly financials as well as year end audit for 2008.

TWHBEA attorney John T. Bobo then addressed the committee in regards to two issues:  the Shelterwood blood issue and the name Tennessee Walking Horse Association.  It was Bobo’s opinion that with regards to Shelterwood, the association was “damaged considerably” but it would be more costly than beneficial to pursue legal action against them and “it doesn’t make financial sense.”  As for the name the news was much better as Bobo had the paperwork that would move the name Tennessee Walking Horse Association and its incorporation under the TWHBEA banner and that they could keep the entity inactive but protect the name.

New President David Pruett then addressed the group with his initial overview and provided a very positive outlook to the group.  “We are limited financially but we are in our shining moment,” said Pruett.  “Our Vice Presidents have to be imaginative in dealing with your committees and please ask members to help,” continued Pruett.  He reiterated to the group that the Executive Committee had to have a renewed commitment to this registry.  Ramsbottom jumped in at this point and urged the committee, “remember why we are here and what the membership expects us to do.”

Chuck Cadle, outgoing Executive Director of TWHBEA addressed the committee and continued remarks he had made at the membership meeting in early December.  He congratulated the group and urged them to work together.  “I have learned from a divided board over the last year and I urge you when you vote please support the majority opinion,” said Cadle.  He continued “It is much easier on the staff this way and in the past year they have felt they were pulled in different directions.”  He also recommended the formation of new committees and/or subcommittees that included Audit, International, Recreation, Information Technology and Sponsorship.  The Executive Committee later in the meeting acted on this recommendation and formed these committees.  Cadle also  asked for the authority to finalize a contract to outsource the information technology services (as a result of previous staffing reductions in the association) however this was met with some caution by the committee and they agreed to take this under advisement in the new Information Technology committee.  This committee consists of Christy Lantis, Mike Inman, Bill Stricklend, David Pruett and Joyce Moyer.  They will read the contract and then convene via conference call to make recommendations to Cadle before he finalizes this contract.

The Admin/Fiscal report by Mike Inman is the report that triggered the long executive session.  Before the break for this session he did review some of the same information that Cook provided earlier but in greater detail and cleared up a couple of questions that the membership had regarding the NWHA lawsuit and HIO Sanctioning Plan.  To date the expenses of the NWHA lawsuit had totaled $890,000, $720,000 already paid and $170,000 due.  There was also an estimate of $60,000 budgeted for appeals and the response to the earlier judgment.  The total for the HIO Sanctioning plan was in the neighborhood of $235,000 according to Inman.  The group then began to talk about the 2008 budget however Stricklend had questions he needed answers to before he could vote on this budget which were to be asked in an executive session.

David Pruett did answer the Report’s question about the approval of the 2008 budget and stated that it had not been approved but would be so very soon and released to the media in an effort to keep the membership better informed.

After the executive session, the committee reports began and were very brief considering the committees had not been formed.  The committees will be formed by the January 12, 2007 meeting and then could potentially be tweaked throughout the year.  Some highlights of these reports included:

-          Dee Dee Sale pointed out that at this time the iPEDS system did not need to become a membership benefit because it would cost the association $60,000 in revenue.  “We need to use this year to improve the system and then look in 2009 for this to be included as a membership benefit,” concluded Sale.

-          Bill Stricklend let the group know his committee would focus on the previous committee’s decision to have a “true” futurity.

-          Joyce Moyer was very excited about the Marketing Committee and her two major initiatives would be capitalizing on the new National Parks Services agreement and continuing the American By Horseback program.  Moyer pointed out the revenue potential associated with the exclusive agreement with the National Parks.  With over 406,000 enrollees annually in the Junior Ranger program, these rangers will need training and this could potentially be provided via the web by TWHBEA at a fee.  She also pointed out the need for $16,000 to initiate the America By Horseback program in 2008.  With a budget of only $10,000 for the year this program will rely heavily on donations.

-          Connie Hess let the committee members know that her committee would be working on re-establishing the academy and medallion programs and would look at partnering back with WHOA on those programs.  Also she plans to look at the Futurity program and show and get the Virginia Futurity back in 2008.

-          Jamie Hankins kept the group loose and reminded them “no one is more happy than I to serve on this (new) Executive Committee (after the past two years).”  He also said he looked forward to keeping the lines of communication between TWHBEA and the WHTA more open.

-          Debra Jack vowed to relook at the amendments that failed earlier this year and also to clean up the language in the current bylaws of the association as to allow them to be more easily understood.  She also took exception to the fact of the information for the annual Board of Directors being distributed at the meeting and not allowing the directors to review it beforehand.  She concluded “this borders on negligence not to get this information distributed before the meeting.”

-          Christy Lantis brought an enthusiastic report with regards to her plans for the Youth.  She wants her committee to look at distributing a DVD based learning/training program focused on the youth.  She also plans to look at partnering with WHOA and WHTA and have clinics and functions together again.  “If we can’t start the unity efforts with the kids then who can we start it with,” said Lantis.  She also wants to institute background checks on any employees or members working with the youth and also create a code of conduct for any of those same members working with the youth.

It was a long day but a day that saw many actions taken before year-end that should allow TWHBEA to begin to take on the new look promised by this Executive Committee.  The next planned meeting of the group will be January 12, 2008.