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Board of directors meeting

Friday, Aug. 8, 10:30 a.m.,
Westin Crown Center, Kansas City MO

The board of directors of the 99th Infantry Division Association met Aug. 8, 2008, during the 59th annual convention at the Westin Crown Center, Kansas City MO.

Those attending were B.O. Wilkins, J.R. McIlroy, Herb Knapp, Jesse Coulter, Howard Bowers, John Vasa, Ron Kraemer, Harry Clifton, Glenn Bronson, Bill Wright, Stan Colby, Phil Benefiel, and Donna Bernhardt. Major Bruce Kish, 99th RRSC, also attended.

The meeting was called to order by vice president B.O. Wilkins in the absence of president Joe Johnson.

Executive director Donna Bernhardt had the roll call of directors.

J.R. McIlroy presented the treasurer’s report, stating the organization had a balance of $103,052 in checking accounts and certificates of deposit. The report was accepted and approved by the board.

Bernhardt presented a membership report, saying there are 1,815 current members including 170 widows and 217 associates. There were 19 new members for the year.

Bernhardt also gave the report for the Washington, D.C., convention. Attendance was up, with 648 registered. She reported a loss of $84.

The Kansas City convention report showed a total registration of 246, of which approximately 80 were veterans.

McIlroy reported that St. Louis had been chosen as the site of the 60th annual convention. It will be held June 24-28, 2009, at the Marriott West, St. Louis MO. He went on to say the committee will plan one year in advance. There is a possibility future conventions may be permanently located in a central location, such as St. Louis. Conventions will continue to be held during the summer months.

Planning committee

In a report of the planning committee, McIlroy said the committee had no new major plans. For now, the association will set aside enough money for the upkeep of the monuments and enough to keep the Checkerboard operating. The remainder of the funds will be spent, possibly on something specifically for veterans at future conventions.

John Vasa agreed, saying it was too hard to plan ahead. He reiterated the need to have enough for monuments and enough to close down the association.

Bruce Kish asked whether there was a plan in place for an associates’ organization.

Jesse Coulter said the 87th Infantry Division formed an associates’ organization and suggested the 99th board ask for legal advice about that possibility.

McIlroy said the board of directors voted several years ago not to carry on.

Coulter explained that the younger associates’ group does not want leadership responsibilities for the association. The group would not “want to steal the thunder of the veterans,” he said.

It was suggested that associates be contacted to see whether there was enough interest to form an organization.

Old business

Under old business, Ron Kraemer told the board he was present as the acting chairman of the archives committee in the absence of chairman Harry McCracken.

Herb Knapp asked the Checkerboard digitization project, which was tabled at the 2007 board of directors’ meeting, be brought up for discussion.

At the previous meeting, Donald Mehus had asked the board to fund a project to digitize all copies of the Checkerboard and put them on the Internet. He requested a total of $2,600 for the project that included the Wisconsin Historical Society providing the digitization service for $800 and a company in Boston putting the 3,000 pages on a website for a cost of $1,800. Mehus wanted to ask members of the association for donations, much the same way the monument at Krinkelt had been funded.

Kraemer said digitizing the Checkerboard was not an archives project, that it was strictly a “Mehus project.” He added Mehus was not authorized to bring the matter before the association without the approval of the board of directors and furthermore, he felt it was an improper use of association funds.

Kraemer added that he had never ceased opposing the project.

Glenn Bronson said he remembered a decision had been made at the Little Rock convention to appropriate $5,000 for microfilming the Checkerboard.

McIlroy said he thought the association had paid to do it.

Bronson said copies of the microfilm supposedly had been sent to specific libraries. As he understood it, Mehus now was asking for $800 to digitize the Checkerboard at Wisconsin.

After restoring order, B.O. Wilkins said the project was a two-part issue, the first part being the actual digitizing, the second part being setting up a website to host the digitized files.

Vasa asked if anyone had any idea how much it would cost for maintenance. No one had an answer.

Bronson reminded the board it was a great way to honor the division and the memory of former editor Bill Meyer.

Vasa said the organization already had an established website and asked if it would be possible to use that to host the digitized files.

Wilkins suggested going forward with the digitization process, giving the files to Carlisle Barracks, and being finished with the issue. He told the board the issue needed to be decided.

Knapp said the objective of the project was to let the world know about the history of the 99th.

With that, he made a motion to appropriate $2,600 as of Aug. 8, 2008, to complete the first two steps of the digitization project.

Bernhardt expressed concerns, cautioning the board to beware of the “hidden costs” of such a project.

With that, the board voted 5-2 to approve Mehus’ digitization project.

J.R. McIlroy, chairman of the nominating committee, had the following recommendations – Herb Knapp, vice president; and three directors, Kent Stanger to serve the remainder of Knapp’s term (one year) on the board, and Arnold Taylor and H.C. Sullivan to fill three-year terms.

McIlroy also asked the board to appoint Harry Clifton as assistant treasurer, with the authority to sign checks if McIlroy is unable.

Bruce Kish provided a brief summary of the transformation and reorganization of the 99th to a Regional Readiness Sustainment Command, moving to Fort Dix NJ, from Coraopolis PA.

Kish reported that fund-raising efforts for the 99th statue project at Coraopolis PA, had fallen short. A scaled-down version of the statue at Fort Benning GA, or Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Pittsburgh PA, , may be considered.

Wilkins recommended the board read the latest rundown of the RRSC in the 2/2008 issue of the Checkerboard.

Herm Saunders told the board he had played the piano at association meetings for 20 years and received nothing in return.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:15 p.m.

Last modified Dec. 17, 2008

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