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TWHBEA Holds Executive Committee Meeting - Leaves Unity Committee



LEWISBURG, Tenn. - The Executive Committee of the TWHBEA met on Thursday, May 24, 2012, at TWHBEA Headquarters in Lewisburg. President Marty Irby called the meeting to order at 10:08 a.m. Secretary Alie Napier called the roll. In attendance were: Marty Irby, Margo Urad, Stephen Brown, Tracy Boyd, David Pruett, Wayne Dean, Mike Hicks, Christy Lantis, Joyce Moyer, Dr. Linda Montgomery, Linda Starnes, Rob Cornelius, DeeDee Sale, Rick Weis, and Lloyd “Buster” Black (via telephone). Also in attendance were Ron Thomas and TWHBEA’s attorney Walter Bussart.
 
The first order of business was to amend the agenda so as to consider new business first. Irby reported that the items of new business were (1) the Unity Committee, (2) Jackie McConnell, and (3) an issue before the Enforcement Committee.
 
Brown made a motion that TWHBEA withdraw immediately from the Unity Committee, Montgomery seconded the motion, and Irby called for questions. Dean asked “why?”; Weis responded “David Howard”. There was much discussion around the table. Irby called for order so that individuals could speak one at a time. Lantis expressed the opinion that the Unity Committee had accomplished getting all the HIOs in one room talking about shoeing rules and consensus of opinion. She expressed the fear that without the Unity Committee, these steps would stop.
 
Boyd asked, “Since we (TWHBEA) started it, if we get out, what is Plan B?” He expressed his hesitation to withdraw since TWHBEA initiated the action that formed the Unity Committee by first inviting the WHTA and WHOA to form such a committee.
 
Brown voiced the opinion that the Celebration does not belong on the Unity Committee, that only three entities: the owners, the trainers, and the breeders should constitute the committee.
 
Irby finally stated, “It’s the Celebration that’s the problem.”
A lot of interactive conversation ensued about the Celebration’s role in the Committee and whether or not it was the intent of TWHBEA to have them included in the formation of the Unity Committee.
 
Lantis suggested that TWHBEA ask them nicely to leave the Unity Committee, saying that slow progress was being made on many fronts, and she did not want to withdraw and start over.
 
Sale stated her opinion that it is time to withdraw from the Unity Committee and move forward. She stated, “TWHBEA needs to lead the industry with no Celebration involvement.”
 
Irby stated his opinion that the Unity Committee should continue with three entities: owners, trainers, breeders, and if the Celebration did not go, then TWHBEA should go because no progress was being made.
 
Sale cited the November 19, 2011, meeting with Chester Gipson where he told TWHBEA they needed to work on making the chains and pads more palatable or pleasing to the world at large and that as soon as the trainers and the Celebration became involved, no further work was done on Dr. Gipson’s suggestion.
 
Hicks stated that the industry was fractured the worst at this time. Moyer stated that she felt it was an issue of  “disunity” rather than unity and that only 1 of 50 emails she receives wants TWHBEA to stay in the Unity Committee. She stated that the “power”, although she hated to use that word, needed to reside with TWHBEA. She stated that the VPs of TWHBEA could do the job of the Unity Committee and be the leader in the industry, stating, “If the buck stops here, it needs to start here.”
 
Urad stated she felt it was important to keep what the Unity Committee had accomplished so far and that we needed to ask the other members (WHTA and WHOA) what they wanted and if everyone wanted the Celebration to leave, then ask them to do so.
 
Irby said that WHOA wants only the breeders, owners and trainers and that they won’t stay in the Unity Committee if TWHBEA leaves.
 
Dean said, “Well, if it’s all about David Howard, he was standing right beside me when we were having these startup meetings, and he said, ‘If you don’t want us, we’ll go home.’”
 
Dean went on to say, “Remember, if we get out, it’s going on without us whether we are in it or not. Is that what you want to do?”
 
Cornelius reminded the group that when they met with Gipson and Dean invited WHTA, the trainers would not stay without the Celebration. He asked if TWHBEA could work with USDA and WHTA with Ron Thomas as the spokesman. He said he felt that the Unity Committee had taken a wrong turn in the road. He reminded the group that if TWHBEA gets out, there still has to be one credible organization to speak for the industry if the industry is to last. He said if we do not take steps to unite and speak with one voice, Gipson will let happen whatever happens. He said it had been six months since the meetings with Gipson and not much has been done and if we don’t form one entity to speak for the industry, it is going to fall apart.
 
Black asked what Irby’s opinion was and Irby stated, “The Unity Committee is completely off track and we need to get out”.
Black stated he felt that regulatory changes were coming soon and it was his personal opinion that TWHBEA should go back to the Unity Committee and try to work out having only three entities.
 
A call came from Boyd to take a vote. The motion for TWHBEA to withdraw from the Unity Committee was taken and failed, 8 to 6.
 
The first motion was amended to a motion to approach the Celebration to leave the Unity Committee; if they refused, TWHBEA would leave.
 
By roll call vote, the motion passed, 8 to 6. At this point, Irby suggested that as a courtesy prior to the Unity Committee meeting this afternoon, he would call David Howard and advise him of the decision. He left the room to do so.
 
Upon Irby’s return from the phone call, Lantis, Vice President of Enforcement, asked that executive session be called to deal with an issue. The Executive Committee went into executive session at 11:20 a.m. until noon.
 
The next order of business was Jackie McConnell. After lengthy discussion about the media coverage, HSUS, and McConnell’s guilty plea, a motion was made, seconded and passed that Jackie McConnell and Barney Davis be permanently barred from owning, registering or transferring any Tennessee Walking Horse. Black made a further motion that he be allowed to contact the U.S. District Attorney in Chattanooga to suggest that a provision be made that any similarly-guilty party be prohibited to own, register, or transfer a Tennessee Walking Horse. This motion was seconded and passed with two abstaining, Dean and Lantis.
 
There being no further new business, the committee addressed old business.
 
Rob Cornelius gave the Financial Committee report. He reported that the year-to-date books showed a loss of approximately $12,000, pretty close to last year. He reported that on the old debt of $43,000 with University of Kentucky, $14,000 had been paid, leaving a balance of $29,000 on the old debt and the new lab fees are current. He reported that the cost to move the Midnight Sun statue by April 2013 will be between $5000 and $6000, considerably less than was projected at the last meeting. A motion made by Black was seconded and passed to make the next calendar year beginning Saturday, the year of Midnight Sun, and use a logo of some type on all correspondence, to put a better face on a difficult situation. TWHBEA will let it be known that a replacement is being considered for the pedestal in the commemorative garden.
 
Cornelius reported that legal fees year to date were $15,000. An itemization was given to the members.
 
A motion was made, seconded and passed approving the yearly audit for presentation to the Board of Directors on Saturday.
 
The next item of business was approval of the minutes of the April Executive Committee. A motion was made, seconded and passed to approve the minutes.
 
The next item of business was the President’s remarks. Irby talked about having judged a show in Germany with Tommy Loid and Joel Weaver at Russell Keyser and Denise Bader’s facility. Stephen Brown was the Show Manager and all entries were flat-shod or barefoot. He advised that he was impressed with the quality and quantity of entries and how much fun the show was for all participants.
 
Irby predicted there would be protestors at the Saturday Board of Directors meeting and the Fun Show. He thanked the TWHBEA staff for their excellence in handling the situation of bad press and many phone calls and emails as a result.
 
The next item of business was the Senior Vice President’s remarks. Margo Urad also thanked the staff for handling all of the situations that resulted from the scrutiny of the media. She talked about the positives of being a community that comes together in times of trouble and cited the Connie Bobo Benefit and the Andy Adkins tragedy as examples of the community effort of the industry.
 
The next item of business was the Executive Director’s report. Ron Thomas advised that the X-Treme Cowboy Event had been very enjoyable for those who participated but that only a total of 35 people attended the event and it lost $5000. He suggested that it was not a good promotional venture for TWHBEA at this difficult financial time.
 
On a positive note, Thomas reported he had been in several meetings with retired Metro mounted police Sgt. J.D. Harber about  a proposed service horse program. He discussed that Sgt. Harber would very much like to make five 40-minute videos about the service horse, that the program has a $25,000/year sponsor but that funds were needed to do the studio audio-to-visual work. Brown suggested that his company could do this.
 
Thomas reported that TWHBEA now has a very capable intern for the summer.
 
Thomas reported that he had a meeting with Richard Hudgins and Derek Mann regarding their taking over the publication of Voice Magazine. He said an agreement could not be reached and that would not be happening. There was discussion from the floor regarding having the magazine be an online only publication. There was discussion of the pros and cons of the printed magazine, some members saying their constituency likes it, other members saying their constituency hates it because of the padded performance horse ads. Thomas said he gets lots of calls from members who say they “trash it” when it arrives. Decision on the Voice was tabled.
 
Thomas reported there is a new and more cost effective caterer for the meals provided for TWHBEA meetings. He further reported that Jerry Harris is suing TWHBEA for $3500 he says he is owed for videos he made of a clinic. Irby explained that the videos were never completed or delivered. Thomas advised he offered $750 to Harris to settle and he refused.
 
Thomas reported that he does not know what to expect for Saturday’s meeting. He has been advised that three buses from PETA will attend. He advised that there will be two uniformed Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputies present in the auditorium and that the Lewisburg City Police would be on high alert and able to respond within 60 seconds. He said TWHBEA had received 420 negative emails as a result of Nightline, that 350 had been answered with a form letter, another 50 he had answered personally because they asked a specific question, and approximately 20 were tagged as quasi-threatening.
 
He called the staff into the conference room to commend them on their handling of all calls, negative or positive. Sale suggested that as a thank you, the staff should get a half day off and a gift card of some type, and Thomas agreed he would do this.
 
The next order of business was the Oath. This item is on the agenda for the Saturday meeting. Irby stated, “It’s wrong and it’s one thing I wish I could take back.” It was discussed that the Oath has been amended twice and is still incorrect on the website. Black made a motion that was seconded and passed unanimously to return to the Oath that was approved on May 27, 1995. This will be addressed at Saturday’s meeting.
 
Linda Starnes handed out an Activity Book which is “Just Say Whoa” (to drugs, drinking and bad decisions). This project needs a sponsor.
 
DeeDee Sale reported that the online registration would go into effect on Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
 
The date of the next Executive Committee meeting was changed to Thursday, June 28, 2012, at 1:00 p.m.
 
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

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