Secretary’s Report

Secretary’s Report:

Minutes of the Annual Meeting, September 30, 2018

Friends of Valley Falls President, Joe King opened the 2018 Annual meeting at 1:07 in the basement of the red barn.  He welcomed members and guests as he presented his first President’s Report.  He said taking on this new role as president gave him an optimistic new perspective on the Friends organization.  He thanked the Board of Directors for their hard work and dedication.  Joe said that maintenance of the Farm Buildings is ongoing and never ending. This summer saw completion of a kitchen upgrade in Apartment A, to the delight of the tenants!  He also spoke about the damage done by the lightning strike on April 16, 2018.  Repairs to the woodshed and icehouse will be completed this fall and should be covered by insurance.  Joe said the Friends have a good relationship with the Town of Vernon and continue to provide advice and support for Valley Falls Park.  This year saw new bathroom facilities installed in the basement of the Red Barn as a direct result of a successful Friends/Town collaboration.

Committee Reports followed.  Ginny reported on the work of the Community Outreach Committee.  She gave a brief history of the Friends group, begun in 1972.  She asked members to take an active role and recruit new members.  She mentioned the quote on Mary Glenn’s bench in the Park: “A small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world,” by Margaret Mead.  Ann Letendre reported for the  Business Development Committee.  Membership contributions have decreased slightly; an increase in membership would spark new ideas.  She thanked Janit Romayko for her help in increasing revenue from the Eastertime “Hoppin’ Hodges” race contributions.  Ann also reported for the Special Projects Committee who have been working with Architect Bob Hurd to finalize building drawings, a site plan and local permitting and code requirements toward completion of the Heritage Center project in the stable.  We are also working with the firm Musevue 360 for help and advice on layout and display content.  $70,387 has been expended so far from the State of Connecticut grant of $150,000, and we are excited about the anticipated opening of the Heritage Center in 2019.  We think the story of our “Gentleman’s Farm” at Valley Falls is unique and are proud of our progress toward that end in 2018.

Bob Letendre, Treasurer, reported on the highlights of his financial reports found on pages 9-12 in the Annual Report.  He reiterated that the Friends organization is financially secure, ending the fiscal year with cash on hand of $31,142.  Total expenses of $71,403, were partially funded by reimbursements from the State grant.  Our endowment fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving now totals $12,942.  An audit committee composed of Karin James and Paula Passaretti found the financial statements to be complete and reconciled with bank records and monthly income and expense reports for fiscal year 2017-2018.

Beekeepers of the five hives at Valley Falls Farm, Alan Valli, Marcie LaVoie and Tom Kaminski, described their 2018 honey production.  Honey flow this year was much improved over last year, about 50 lbs.  Tom showed us samples of golden colored spring honey and rich, dark fall honey.  They had jars of honey from the Farm hives to sell at our meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:45 pm.

Respectfully submitted, Jean Merz, Secretary

Our guest speaker, Amy Blaymore Paterson, executive director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council, provided an informed rationale for voting “yes” on the November 6, 2018, ballot Question #2, to “Amend the State of Connecticut Constitution to require a public hearing before Public Land can be sold, swapped, or traded by the Connecticut General Assembly.”