By Jeffrey Howard

LEWISBURG, Tenn. – The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association spent most of the day today, December 6, 2008, putting a wrap on 2008 and preparing for what looks to be a challenging 2009.  The now former executive committee met in the morning followed by the National Board of Directors meeting and wrapped up the day with a meeting of the 2009 executive committee.

9:00AM Executive Committee Meeting

The morning meeting marked the final opportunity for the previous executive committee to meet together before the new election.  This group had been tasked with restoring some form of financial stability to the association and by all accounts has accomplished that task.  The group conducted most of the meeting in an executive session but did find time to pass two motions.
The first motion passed was for a code of conduct and statement of ethics for committee members.  This move was passed by this executive committee and then later rescinded by the new executive committee after it was challenged in the board of directors meeting.
The second motion was one that allowed for the TWHBEA membership list to be distributed to members via electronic format.  Mark Mattson had challenged the executive committee the day before in the general membership meeting regarding the legality of TWHBEA withholding the membership list.  The matter was resolved when this executive committee passed a motion allowing members to fill out a request form stating a specific intent for use of the list and thus would be provided with the names and mailing addresses of the membership.  Email addresses and phone numbers would not be given in order to protect the membership.

National Board of Directors Meeting

The board of directors met following the executive committee meeting and were delayed in starting as the previous executive committee completed their actions.  Once the meeting began several administrative tasks were completed including the introduction of new directors, approval of the agenda and previous meeting minutes and the ratification of the actions of the executive committee since May 24, 2008.
Just as in 2007, Fran Cole from California again questioned the ability of the board of directors to ratify the actions since many of the actions of the executive committee may or may not be known by the directors.  She urged again as in 2007, “directors need time to do due diligence to make informed decisions so please provide materials such in advance to allow us to do so,” said Cole.
Nevertheless the actions of the executive committee were ratified.  The major action taken during the meeting was the election of the new executive committee.  The following slate of positions was presented by Darren Gray, chairman of the nominating committee.
President: David Pruett, Tennessee
Senior Vice-President: Robert Thomas, Mississippi
VP Administrative/Fiscal: Mike Inman, Georgia
VP Breeders: Dee Dee Sale, Tennessee
VP Enforcement: Rick Womack, Tennessee
VP Horse Shows: Bill Stricklend, Alabama
VP Marketing: Kasey Kesselring, Florida
VP Owners'/Exhibitors': Kathy Zeis, Georgia
VP Performance Horse: Wayne Dean, Tennessee
VP Pleasure Horse: Diana McMurtrey, Florida
VP Training: Chris Bobo, Tennessee
VP Member at Large ByLaws: Debra Jack, BC, Canada
VP Member at Large Youth: Christy Lantis, California
Secretary: Sharon Brandon

The only two positions that had opposition nominated from the floor were Sr. Vice President and VP Breeders.  However, in both cases the member from the nominated slate won.  Robert Thomas beat Walt Chism and Dee Dee Sale beat Mary Ellen Areaux.
In new business, the national board of directors passed a motion that does not allow the executive committee or any member of the executive committee to place any mortgage, lien, or encumbrance of any kind against the title to the TWHBEA Headquarters.  After the motion passed, some members questioned whether the motion was in direct conflict to the bylaws of the association.  It was later deemed by Debra Jack that this was not the case.

Afternoon Executive Committee Meeting

The afternoon executive committee provided the first opportunity for the 2009 committee to get together.  They acted quick, rescinding the motion made in the morning on the code of ethics requirement, making another motion that would send the code of conduct to the membership via email and the web site and seek comments to be submitted by January 5, 2009.  At that point the executive committee will revisit the issue.
They also decided to investigate the possibility of donation of a Tennessee Walking Horse to the children of President-Elect Barack Obama as an inauguration gift.
The committee also decided to continue negotiation of the Best of America By Horseback program with Tom Seay.  The requirement is $22,000 for 2009 but the committee asked Joyce Moyer to seek other alternatives from the program in terms of sponsorships.
A complete report on the day’s activities in Lewisburg will be made available in the print edition of the Walking Horse Report.