by Christy Howard Parsons

            All of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association paused to celebrate Sharon Brandon’s retirement from TWHBEA on Monday, March 26, 2007. A luncheon was held in her honor on Monday. Tuesday, March 27, was proclaimed Sharon Brandon Day by the mayor of Lewisburg. And the Executive Committee voted unanimously to formally recognize her with a framed letter of appreciation.
            Other business that took place at Monday’s Executive Committee meeting beginning with Chuck Cadle’s comments.
            “My last month has been like drinking out of a fire hose,” said Cadle referring to his first month as Executive Director of TWHBEA. Cadle warned the Executive Committee against taking a stand on governmental issues as it could jeopardize TWHBEA’s tax exempt status. Cadle also questioned whether Niels Holch, the lobbyist in Washington who represents TWHBEA, WHTA and WHOA, and his bill were worth the benefits received by TWHBEA.
            Cadle announced that TWHBEA is planning a $307,000 information technology update. He said that $100,000 of the project cost was included in the 2007 budget and that the remainder would be spread over five years. One of the objectives of the IT project is to update the IPEDs program.
            Kristi Lane announced that next month she would assume the role as Deputy Executive Director of the DNA Registry and weekly meetings will be held regarding the DNA program.
            Lane also announced that 60 judges would be getting their notification as licensed TWHBEA judges this week.
            Lane also explained to the Executive Committee via a power point presentation the current problems with 23,000 missing or destroyed blood samples. These samples had been stored at Shelterwood Laboratories. TWHBEA will absorb the cost of replacing the destroyed vials, which were primarily from 2002-2004 foals.  For those vials of blood which were lost or destroyed, the customer will have to have one tube of blood repulled, but TWHBEA will be providing the tube and paying the lab cost at approximately $15.50 each. The total anticipated cost to TWHBEA will be $95,000.
            TWHBEA will be proceeding against their insurance company and/or legal actions to recover these costs.
            Based upon these unexpected costs, TWHBEA intends to prepare a new 2007 budget, which is expected to project a $355,000 loss as opposed to the $30,000 gain projected on the initial 2007 budget.
            Other factors influencing the new budget include lower than estimated registrations, foal registrations instead of transfers and recruitment charges for the executive search.
            Wayne Dean presented the fact that the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association had rescinded the resolution that had prevented WHTA members, and specifically Wayne Dean and Jamie Hankins who serve on both the TWHBEA and WHTA boards, from participating in TWHBEA judges’ clinics and seminars. After this resolution was passed, Dean and Hankins met with Jerrold Pedigo and Sid Baucom privately to explain how it impacted their position as a director on the board of TWHBEA. At that meeting, Dean and Hankins were presented with a legal opinion from the Nashville law firm of Bone McAllister. Allegedly Hankins and Dean were told that they would no longer be able to vote on certain TWHBEA issues.
            Dean asked that he and Hankins votes be reinstated as a result of the rescinded motion.
            Pedigo explained that no motion had been made by the TWHBEA body to take Dean and Hankins votes away.
            Dean asked for a statement in writing from Pedigo.
            Pedigo further explained that each member of the board is responsible for excusing themselves when conflicts of interest arise. If a member doesn’t excuse themselves and the board believes there is a conflict of interest, then the board becomes responsible for excusing that member.
            “It will be a decision that Jamie and Wayne will have to make,” warned Pedigo.
            TWHBEA Attorney John T. Bobo stated that many people have inter-locking relationships and that the person’s duty is to the board on which they are currently sitting.
            “If someone feels they might have a conflict with something, they might need to explain why. Also if the board feels like a member will have a conflict and that member doesn’t feel they will, that member might have to explain why not,” said Bobo.
            Jamie Hankins presented the Executive Committee with an email allegedly sent by Donna Benefield to USDA officials in Washington. Hankins welcomed everyone on the Executive Committee to hear the audio of the taped Trainers’ meeting referred to in the email. Hankins said that Benefield’s claims in the letter were false. The issue was tabled at this time to be discussed in the later portion of the meeting (apparently during Executive Session).
            Charles Wharton addressed the Executive Committee as the Fiscal/Administrative Vice President and cautioned everyone that the Voice magazine is currently down $64,000. He said current reserves were $900,000, but that $100,000 of that would be used in the next month. He urged all of the committee to limit their travel and other expenses wisely.
            Kathy Zeis and Darren Gray both questioned again why TWHBEA programs such as the new Go! Gelding program had to go through the TWHBEA HIO with points only being counted from shows at TWHBEA sanctioned events.
            Cadle responded that he “recognized there are still many misunderstandings of the Sanctioning Plan.” He asked the board for their approval to outline the plan and the HIO better and to explain it to the board to make it clearer.
            Marty Irby reported that his marketing committee is working with the national GMC corporation to sponsor the Walk This Way tour. GMC has asked for a copy of the membership list in exchange for their sponsorship along with many other things. It would be a one-year contract and the membership list could only be used one time.
            A committee of Marty Irby, Jerrold Pedigo and Chuck Cadle was appointed to review the contract and to make the final decision on the sponsorship.
            The Executive Committee also discussed memberships. Currently memberships are down by 945 compared to the same point at last year. The marketing committee suggested that members be allowed to choose a different free service as a part of their membership. Currently members receive one free foal registration with their membership. Holly Reynolds suggested that TWHBEA review the AKC membership schedule. According to Reynolds, the AKC offers different levels of memberships for different types of pedigrees.
            The committee also discussed live streaming the Executive Committee meetings on the TWHBEA Web site to better inform members and to limit the cost of board phone calls. Holly Reynolds felt it might be better to just have bullet points recapped via a live feed or memo. The board voted on the issue of live streaming the meetings and it was defeated.
            Due to the luncheon for Sharon Brandon, the board elected to finish the rest of their agenda at their next meeting on April 30.
            Kristi Lane however said that the contract for the hotel for the end of year meetings was due. She said that many people had complained the Marriott in Franklin was not sufficient, and they were considering moving the location. They are considering the Embassy Suites or Opryland Hotel. The TWHBEA bylaws provide that the meeting must take place the first weekend in December.
            Wayne Dean brought up the concern that by moving the location, people would be forced to choose between attending TWHBEA’s meetings or the Walking Horse Trainers’ Association meetings.
            The board will be holding a conference call in regard to the hotel contract within the next few days and may elect to discuss the other agenda items which were tabled.