Thursday March 14, 2013

I attended the annual meeting of the Park-McCullough House Association on March 1 in the Carriage Barn. I received notice of the meeting a few weeks ago and looked forward to seeing what was happening on the property.

The president, Katherine Traver of North Bennington, called the meeting to order. Allen McCullough of North Bennington and Stacey New of Bennington, respectively vice president and secretary of the board of trustees accompanied her on the dais.

From that moment, things seemed to go off the rails. I looked around for a sign-in sheet but couldn't find one. I asked a seatmate if he had a copy of the agenda. He said he hadn't seen one. The meeting moved into a "state of the house/report of the year" with no hardcopy annual report or documentation.

The president reported that three trustees out of seven had resigned within the previous two weeks. I raised my hand and asked for an explanation of the resignations. Ms. Traver responded that she didn't know why and that we'd have to ask them. All three were at the meeting because they are members in good standing of the Park-McCullough House Association.

One of them raised his hand. He said that he submitted his resignation to Ms. Traver with specific reasons, in writing, about 12 days before the meeting. He resigned because he had no confidence in the board's ability to make and implement a plan for the House, and it went against his grain to stay on a board that wasn't planning the future. Other Association members immediately commented about the board's history of losing board members for similar reasons. Then Allen McCullough talked about the costs of maintaining the house on a minimal budget, and Stacy New talked about the weddings at the house this year and next year. They provided no precise numbers for 2012 or for the year to come.

People asked questions about finances and planning for 2013, but there was nothing available for us to read or thumb through. Answers lacked substance. They seemed general and "off the cuff."

Ms. Traver mentioned that the board's treasurer had a death in her family and could not be present at the meeting. That's why there were no financials. It seems strange that in the beginning of the third month of 2013, they couldn't provide some kind of written report about 2012.

There were no informative answers to any questions about the finances or planning for the future.

Suddenly Ms. Traver began wrapping up the meeting, calling for a vote to (re)elect the current slate of officers. There was no ballot or official list of nominees to read. They were all quickly re-elected without a formal tally of the yeas and nays. There was no control to make certain that whoever voted was even eligible to vote. And then the meeting adjourned. Just like that.

There's so much that was not right with this meeting: There was no agenda, there was no written slate of candidates for people to consider, no opportunity to nominate anyone else because it all went too fast. There were no financial reports to look at. It felt like the board members running the meeting couldn't get the meeting adjourned fast enough.

Is it wrong to be troubled by that?

Park-McCullough is a great treasure for North Bennington. It deserves more than a slipshod meeting with vague answers and little respect for proper meeting procedures. Park-McCullough House Association members need to demand a real meeting, real numbers, real accountability, real explanations, and probably a whole new board.

MRS. MAYNARD A COONS

Former PMHA trustee

Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

Thanks for re-election as school clerk

I would like to thank the voters of Bennington, Mount Anthony Union School District and the Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School District for re-electing me as their clerk. I would also like to thank Robert Sherman for his years of service as a MAU board member from the Bennington district. He was a hard working and dedicated board member. Although he carried the Bennington district in the March election he was not successful in the outlying towns. Hopefully, he will have an opportunity to return to the board in the years to come.

TIMOTHY R. CORCORAN

Town and School Clerk

Bennington

Thanks to supporters

Even though I fell short of being elected to the Shaftsbury Select Board I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who supported me. I will continue doing what I can to support the current members of the Select Board and to make Shaftsbury all it can be. I truly believe more public participations is key to moving this town forward and I encourage everyone to become involved in any way they can. I believe being proactive is preferable to being reactive. Again, thank you for your support.

MITCHELL RACE

Shaftsbury