Sunday, July 16, 2006

Notes from July 15 Board Meeting

Judging from the packed attendance at the El Monte Historical Society museum -- roughly 100 family members and interested individuals -- the issue of the continued operation of the Savannah Pioneer Cemetery was close to the hearts of many, many people. It was gratifying to see so many people turn out for this important meeting!

The attendance was obviously not anticipated by the current Board members. Vice President Bob Bruesch had made only 25 copies of the agenda and asked everyone to share! The meeting room had been set with 80 chairs, and nearly every one was filled. The audience spilled outside the room into the hallway.

This was approached as a formal meeting of the Board of Directors at which guests were welcomed. This wasn't explained to the attendees and was confusing to many people, who didn't know if it was a meeting of the Membership, what constitued "membership," who didn't understand the parliamentary procedures in place, who could vote on motions, etc. Once that was explained, the meeting progressed though reading of the minutes of the previous meeting and an imprecise and incomplete financial report.

The discussion turned to election of officers. Bob Bruesch's membership on the Board was challenged, due to the provision of the By-Laws which state that a member was required to be a property holder in the cemetery. He admitted that he didn't have property and agreed that he wasn't serving on the Board legally.

The Reader's Digest version of this portion of the meeting is this:
The Board moved/passed to create a resolution allowing for "interested individuals" to serve on the Board.
The Board moved/passed to expand the current Board size to 10 members.
The existing Board members were asked to indicate their intent to continue to serve on the reconstituted Board of Directors:
Current Board members Lucille Cleminson, Fred Love, and Rosie Gutierrez said no and resigned
Ken Pike, who had resigned at the previous meeting, reaffirmed that resignation
Lucille Cleminson resigned for Mrs. Marilyn Martin Drake, who has been incapacitated with a stroke
Bob Bruesch agreed to serve as a Board member but not as an officer
Janice Wiggins White agreed to serve again

The next portion of the meeting just about knocked me off my chair. The floor was opened to nominations for the remaining Board postions. I have never seen 8 Board positions be filled so fast!! Nominations flew, motions were made, and literally within minutes, all 8 open positions were filled, amidst applause and cheers for everyone who stepped up to take the cemetery into its next phase. It was gratifying and truly thrilling to see the willingness of these people to volunteer.

Officer elections followed, with the following outcome:

President: Eric Chase
Vice President: E. Randy Wiggins
Secretary: Wanda Pennington Parker
Treasurer: Janice Wiggins White
Board Members:
James Bias
Bob Bruesch
Victor Haddox
Virgil Ervin
Glenn Pennington
Robyn Steele

The Board will begin working very quickly to resolve several urgent issues - corporate questions concerning bylaws, analysis and review of financial records, ownership, title chase, etc. The most pressing item is to seek protection by applying for National or Sate Historical Landmark status. Eric has already started compiling information toward that end, and a historical committee will be formed to support the initiative.

The cemetery will continue as a viable corporate entity while the Historical Landmark status is sought. The financial report seems to indicate that there is enough cash to support about one year of operation.

Eric discussed the many communication channels open to stay in touch with all of the membership, including this mailing list, the blog, the research done in 2004 that is posted to the California Saving Graves website, etc. In response to a question, he talked about the Savannah Pioneer Cemetery golf shirt that he and his sister were wearing, the proceeds from the sale of which will be contributed to support the process of obtaining Historical Landmark designation. Here's the URL in case you missed it on the blog: Savannah items on CafePress

When Wanda or Janice has compiled the list of individuals who provided email addresses, please send them to me so that I can invite those individuals to join this email group. The new Board is committed to keeping the information flowing among all of the property holders and other interested individuals.

There is a lot of work to do. Funds will need to be raised as soon as the corporate organizations questions are resolved. But it's a fantastic start to the new life of this precious 5 acres of land.

After the meeting, nearly 60 people went to the cemetery in nearly 100-degree heat to be photographed under the huge tree shading the Wiggins plot. Can you believe that???? Special thanks to Bill Carpenter, who has Camera Equipment To Lust For , who volunteered to take the photographs.

Thank you for allowing me to share this experience. It was simply inspiring.


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