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Board of directors meeting

Saturday, Sept. 1, 3 p.m.

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

Washington, D.C.

The board of directors of the 99th Infantry Division Association met Sept. 1, 2007, during the 58th annual convention at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Washington, D.C.

Those attending were president John Vasa, Joe Johnson, Phil Benefiel, J.R. McIlroy, Herb Knapp, Harry McCracken, Stan Colby, Jesse Coulter, Howard Bowers, Harry Clifton, Ron Kraemer, and Donna Bernhardt. Guests were Donald Mehus, Mike Strollo, and Ray Sager.

The meeting was called to order by president John Vasa.

Executive director Donna Bernhardt had the roll call of directors.

In a report from president John Vasa, he began by reminding members to keep comments short, and issued a three-minute limit for each comment.

He went on to say the organization had lost leadership in the past year, with the death of Bill Meyer, and he had made some temporary appointments, with permission from legal adviser Bob Hogan.

Those appointments included naming Donna Bernhardt editor of the Checkerboard and Phil Benefiel assistant legal adviser. Vasa said after the appointment of Benefiel, Hogan resigned as legal adviser; Vasa then named Benefiel as his replacement.

In other action during the year, Vasa said a decision had been made to allow the Checkerboard Chorus to use funds from the sale of CDs for a farewell breakfast.

Vasa recognized Bob Hogan for his service to the association and asked that a resolution or plaque be awarded him.

He also reported former auditor and past president Jim Fennie's death and recognized him for his comprehensive audits and valuable service to the association.

Financial report

McIlroy gave the treasurer's report, stating the organization had a balance of $100,000 in checking accounts and certificates of deposit. He recommended holding losses to $20,000 per year. By doing this, he said the money will last until the association is dissolved.

He said the membership is declining and expenses are up. That trend will continue, but he felt there was no reason to increase dues.

"We just have to be careful with our money," he concluded.

Auditor Harry Clifton provided a review of the financial report. He reported a certificate of deposit had been cashed with $30,000 deposited in the checking account and the remaining $45,000 back into a CD.

In a review of finances for the past year, Clifton said expenses for the Checkerboard were down. Other expenses included $2,500 for travel expenses for the Diggers and an advance of $11,000 to the Washington, D.C., convention fund.

He reminded the board that some expenses, such as the Checkerboard Chorus and travel expenses for the Diggers would not be relevant in future years.

Clifton reviewed the amount of money the association has in certificates of deposit. At this time, there are two CDs totaling more than $80,000.

"We'll have to tighten the belt," said Mike Strollo. "We have too much money tied up in CDs."

"We're not losing money," said Ron Kraemer. "We're using it [for the benefit of the members], he concluded.

With that, Kraemer made a motion to accept the treasurer's report as given. The motion was seconded and approved by the board.


Bernhardt presented a membership report, saying there are 2,002 current members including 186 widows and 206 associates. There were 28 new members for the year.

Bernhardt also gave the report for the Little Rock convention. Attendance was down, with 382 registered. She reported a loss for the convention of $9,811. She said the loss was attributed to audio-visual charges, piano rental, wheelchair rentals, a loss in the hospitality room, and the free taco night.

A report for the Washington, D.C., convention showed attendance was up, with 647 registrations.

Strollo said he was concerned association money wasn't being used for the members (veterans), and the association isn't making any money.

He said printing the names and addresses of the membership in the Checkerboard was a complete waste of money.

After several minutes of heated discussion, Vasa restored order and Strollo left the meeting.


McIlroy reported on an earlier meeting of the planning committee. He said it's difficult to plan accurately, but looking at this year's attendance at Washington, D.C., he was encouraged that the association would continue another three or four years.

He said future convention sites would probably be at smaller cities and smaller hotels. The site selection committee will be looking St. Louis MO, and Memphis TN, for the 2009 convention.

"We'll be OK if we're careful," McIlroy said. "We'll keep going till we run out of men [members]."

A resolution honoring the service of Bob Hogan was read and approved. Joe Johnson recommended bestowing upon Hogan the honorary title of "life member." The motion was seconded by Phil Benefiel and the appointment was approved. Hogan joins Johnson and McIlroy as association life members.

The board approved the appointments of Benefiel and Bernhardt as previously reported.

Joe Johnson was appointed chairman of the nominating committee.

Old business

Under old business, Donald Mehus requested funds from the association to digitize all copies of the Checkerboard and put them on the Internet. He said the Wisconsin Historical Society would provide the digitizing service for $800 and a company in Boston would put the 3,000 pages on a website for approximately $1,800.

He asked for funds from the association and wanted to ask members to make donations for the project.

"I thought we dealt with this last year," said Kraemer. "If the issue was resolved last year, why are we discussing it now?"

Mehus said last year he had talked about microfilming the Checkerboard. This year's project was something different.

"Were copies [of microfilm] ever made?" asked Harry McCracken.

"We already discussed it," Kraemer reiterated.

McIlroy recommended tabling the issue for further review until the next board meeting in 2008.

Mehus then asked for permission to ask the membership for donations. Kraemer said he thought it was improper to bring it up to the membership if the board did not approve it.

Stan Colby asked Mehus if keeping the Checkerboards online would be an ongoing expense. Mehus said it would.

With that, the issue was tabled until next year's meeting.

Under new business, Herb Knapp asked permission to distribute plastic cards for the Wounded Warrior Program sponsored by the U.S. Army.

He also presented an artscape to be displayed at the memorial service and banquet, then become property of the association.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:05 p.m.