MINUTES OF THE ROCKFISH VALLEY FOUNDATION BOARD
February 26, 2011
The Board of the Rockfish Valley Foundation met at the Old Wintergreen Country Store on Saturday, February 26, 2011. Chairman Peter Agelasto called the meeting to order at 10:15 a.m. Attending were Peter Agelasto, Betsy Agelasto, Parker Agelasto, Liz Sargent, Hank Gibb, Craig Cooper, Alice Faintich, Marshall Faintich, Karl Hess, Sharon Hudson, Russ Reid, and Michael Lechance.
Karl Hess, chairman of the Working Committee, gave the report of this committee and its recommendations. The Working Committee reviewed the RVF vision and mission statements. Using the list of activities created by Alice Faintich and Peter Agelasto that RVF is currently undertaking, the Working Committee then gave RVF a programmatic structure. Attached is a copy of their recommendations to the Board.
• Geographic Focus Area of RVF which constitutes the principal area in which the RVF implements its programs: The boundary roughly goes from Route 250 at Rockfish Gap to the Plank Road turnoff to Batesville. Then down the Ragged Mountains ridgeline to Brents Gap. From there across the ridge of Horseshoe Mountain to the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains to Reids Gap. From Reids Gap back to Rockfish Gap at Afton.
• Vision statement: A community that works cooperatively to conserve, protect, enjoy, and promote the natural, cultural, and historic resources of the Rockfish Valley.
• Mission statement: The Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) is a non-profit 501 c (3) organization committed to working cooperatively with the Rockfish Valley community and others to demonstrate and promote agricultural and non-agricultural land uses and activities that conserve, protect and sustain the natural, cultural and historic resources of the Rockfish Valley for the enjoyment and enrichment of residents and visitors. It was noted that the words agricultural and non-agricultural were in the mission statement instead of in the vision statement because they were a better fit there.
• The Proposed Programmatic Structure includes six areas of RVF involvement, each discussed below.
Programmatic Area 1: Trail Establishment and Maintenance — “the development and maintenance of educational and recreational trails within the RVF focus area to advance the Foundation’s mission, and to other such contiguous trails that may, in time, be promoted or cooperatively established on lands adjacent to the focus area.” Current activities include Birding, Geology, Botany, and Hiking.
Programmatic Area 2: Land and Water Conservation and Restoration — “ the cooperative conservation and restoration of lands within the RVF focus area for the purposes of returning or sustaining critical ecological functions and structures, including wildlife habitat and habitat connectivity; enhancing native plant communities and habitat; aquatic system and species health; water storage, delivery, and purification; nutrient cycling; and other ecological services endemic historically to those lands, and to other such lands adjacent to but outside the RFV that may, in time, be cooperatively conserved or restored.” Current activities include Wildlife Habitat Enhancement (Warm Season Grass Field Establishment); Spruce Creek Park Conservation; South Rockfish River Restoration; Bog Restoration and Protection; Habitat Assessment including satellite imagery and butterfly survey; and Elk Hill Conservation Easements.
Comments: No major activity of RVF in this area at this time, but all RVF clearly support.
Programmatic Area 3: Recreation-Based Education and Outreach — “support and development of recreation based educational activities on lands within the RVF focus area, and on lands adjacent to the focus area that may, in time, be linked to these activities, for the purpose of reaching out to the citizens of Nelson County, the school children of Nelson County, and others with interest in Nelson County, and enriching their knowledge about, awareness of, and appreciation for the natural and historical resources of Nelson County, the stewardship needs of those resources, and the issues pertaining to the long-term conservation and protection of those resources. “ Current activities include Kite Festival; Star watch; Discovery Days; Earth Day; and Blooming with Parkway.
Comments: RVF should always be aware that the activity links to the broader goal of RVF. An example questioned was the Star Watch which can possibly be linked to the importance of the Night Sky in Nelson County.
Programmatic Area 4: Historic Resource Recognition, Promotion, and Protection — “the recognition, promotion, and protection of the historical resources of the Rockfish Valley for the education, awareness, and use by local citizens to build and sustain a community that continues to connect with its past for the benefit of current and future generations. “ Current activities are the South Rockfish Rural Historic District; Nelson County Scenic Loop; Satellite Imagery- Remote Sensing for Archeology; and Designations for National Historic Register ( which currently include Elk Hill and Wintergreen Country Store).
Programmatic Area 5: External Affairs – Coordination with and Support for Allied Stakeholders —
“Coordination with and support for individuals, agencies, and organizations located in or with interests in the Rockfish Valley for the purpose of conserving, protecting or enhancing the valley’s natural and historical resources for current and future generations through collaborative and cooperative partnerships. “ Current activities are Environmental Summit; Virginia Museum of Natural History; Master Naturalists; Audubon Society; Virginia Watchable Wildlife and Birding Trails (VA DGIF); and Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water District
Comments: Very important area. RVF could reach out of RVF and work with others to accomplish similar goals.
Programmatic Area 6: Landowner-Based Outreach and Education — “Voluntary use of cooperating lands within the RVF Focus area to demonstrate to, share with, and disseminate among surrounding landowners in the Rockfish Valley (a) best land management practices ; (b) sustainable agricultural and non-agricultural economic opportunities (e.g.), market-based alternatives, including Ag Tourism; (c) conservation actions for delivery of income-producing ecological services (water, habitat, wildlife, open space, aesthetics, etc.); and (d) financial resources to support conservation-driven agricultural and non-agricultural land uses now and into the future.” Current activities are Cidery Development in Nellysford and Ag Tourism such as the Guest House at Elk Hill.
Comments: This is a new Programmatic area. This will demonstrate to people the alternatives to traditional activities to protect open space and to make the land sustainable. The Working Committee felt that this is a major category and could be the factor that makes RVF have an important future life.
The Working Committee also recommended that one individual be assigned to lead each of these areas with the goal to co-ordinate people and the programs in each programmatic area, to co-ordinate with the other programmatic area leaders, and to co-ordinate with the Board.
Discussion followed with the following suggestions:
• Programmatic Area 7 be added and include Fund Raising, Marketing, and Public Relations.
• Mission statement be amended to read “ non profit 501 c (3) public charitable organization.
• Concern was expressed about the Kite Festival and Star Watch as being a part of the RVF Mission. Several would like to see a more obvious link. Perhaps RVF could use education as the link. For example, information about what makes a kite fly or why the Night Sky is important
• Add to the Working Committee’s report the names of the committee and summarize when it was formed and its process. This could be added as a “prelude” to its report.
• Priority of the various activities is needed and how to establish the hierarchy of which are the most important. It was noted that if RVF had a grant for an activity or a commitment from a person or a group, perhaps that activity would move up the list of priority. Priorities can change all the time and RVF would hate to lose an opportunity.
• Set short term priority now and look to long term priorities. Go over with Peter Agelasto the current projects and get them “under control” first.
• Karl Hess commented that prioritization will become more important as RVF receives more donations and grants. RVF will then need to decide which activities are the most important and will receive that money.
• Peter Agelasto brought up the Master Plan with Water Street Studio. RVF has changed so much since the original plan was drawn up and needs to revisit the Master Plan.
• Leadership development , training capacity development and recruitment should be added.
Examples given of successful leadership development were Jesus Najar with the Nelson Scenic Loop and Tim Hodge with the Birding Trail. Examples of RVF ideas being copied a new the Scenic Loop created by Nelson County Tourism. Some activities such as the Kite Festival could be spun off to another group if RVF wished to free up RVF for other activities. Also discussed later in the meeting was Leadership capacity building and “entrepreneurial activity incubation.”
• The question was raised whether RVF should be involved in different conversations such as those about Byways or Transportation infrastructure. This could be added to External Affairs in a category of Planning (Transportation, Communications, and Connectivity). However, the group agreed that they did not wish to see the RVF engage in political policy, but more in the area of education with informational outreach.
• RVF could create a program to take to the schools and other organizations. RVF could create a quarterly speakers program.
• An organization chart needs to be drawn showing the structure of the Board, an Executive Director, and under that Programs, Administrative Co-ordinator, Treasurer and other necessary positions.
Discussion of the report of the Working Committee came to a close. Peter Agelasto, Board chairman, noted that a quorum was present. However, he had a letter of resignation from S. Waite Rawls III. Hank Gibb moved to accept Waite’s resignation and Parker Agelasto seconded. A quorum was still present to vote. Hank Gibb moved that the Board approve the Vision, Mission, and Geography of the Working Committee’s report. Russ Reid seconded. Motion carried.
Parker Agelasto moved that Peter Agelasto ,as RVF chairman, write to Karen Norman a letter of appreciation for her work with RVF on Board Development and facilitating the October 30, 2010 Board Meeting.
Discussion followed about potential chairmen of the seven programmatic areas. Alice Faintish, Volunteer Co-ordinator , pointed out the advantage of the chart she created for potential chairmen and potential volunteers. Parker Agelasto suggested that a job description of each area and the expectation of the time commitment be included. Karl Hess suggested that all programmatic committee chairmen be a member of the Working Committee. The following people were nominated.
1. Trail Establishment and Maintenance — Chris Gensic , not in attendance, had agreed earlier
2. Land and Water Conservation and Restoration — Karl Hess
3. Recreation-Based Education and Outreach – Peter Agelasto for the present
4. Historic Resource Recognition, Promotion, and Protection – Liz Sargent “with reservations”
5. External Affairs – Coordination with and Support for Allied Stakeholders – Marshall Faintish
6. Landowner-Based Outreach and Education – Michael Lechance
Sharon Hudson moved that the Board accept the nominations of these committee chairmen. Motion passed.
Parker Agelasto , acting as treasurer but having resigned as treasurer at the last Board meeting, noted the following:
• Reminded the Board that Karen Norman suggested that the treasurer NOT be an Agelasto family member and that RVF needed to find a treasurer.
• If RVF receives more than $25,000 in donations and grants in one calendar year, it will move to a more scrutinized filing with the IRS.
• The RVF financial records should more accurately reflect the amount of money that the chairman Peter Agelasto has spent and not repaid himself.
Peter Agelasto asked for volunteers for the Finance Committee. Since there was no volunteers from the floor, Hank Gibb kindly said that he would participate as time permits. Peter Agelasto will contact Craig Cooper about possibly being on the committee.
Earlier in the meeting, Peter Agelasto announced that RVF has about $18,000 in the bank account. Of this about $11,000 is restricted and about $7,000 is unrestricted. The Nelson Scenic Loop has $5,000 from The Virginia Department of Tourism which must be used by July 1; The Virginia Department of Game and Fisheries gave $1,5000 for the design of story boards ; John Washburn of the new Cidery gave $1,000 for the Kite Festival and hopes to be a promoter of the RVF
Peter Agelasto announced that Rick Winter has volunteered to hold a Marketing Committee Workshop. Attending will be Foxie Morgan, Maureen ???????? from Nelson County Tourism, Dana Quillen from Wintergreen, and Mary Wolf of the Big Bad Wolf Brewery. Karl Hess and Hank Gibb will also attend.
Peter Agelasto noted that the Board needs to appoint a Nominating Committee in order to nominate new members. Suggestions for new members were Karl Hess, Liz Sargent, and Marshall Faintish. Parker Agelasto noted that the old By-laws had two classes of Board members – Agelasto Family Board members and appointed Board members. It was noted that the old By-laws were structured on a private charity, and not a public charity as the RVF has become. Hank Gibb and Parker Agelasto will review the By-laws and bring back suggestions to the Board.
Peter Agelasto feels that the RVF website needs to be updated. It was noted that Peter Agelasto IV, the webmaster, is a member of the Board, which could be a conflict of interest, even though Peter IV is giving RVF a 50% discount for his services. This issue will be discussed and resolved.
Under new business, it was announced that the Virginia Environmental Assembly sponsored by the Virginia Conservation Network will be held at Wintergreen September 9, 2011. Peter Agelasto helped to make this possible and would like for RVF to be a sponsor. He suggested that RVF sponsor a reception on the first night. Perhaps RVF could partner with the Wintergreen Nature Foundation and hold the reception at the Trillium House. The motion was moved and passed. Karl Hess will contact Doug Coleman about this possibility.
Peter Agelasto announced that Phase I of the Geology Trail was on schedule. He hopes to cover the expenses with a $3,000 grant from BAMA Works, a $2,000 semi restricted gift, and $600 left from another BAMA Works RVF project. Because of this project, the Geology Department at JMU, particularly Lynn Fishner and Eric Pyle, are establishing a close relationship with RVF and Nelson County.
Phase ! will include the dedication of the Geology Trail and possibly a Field Trip, the storyboards at the kiosk, a map, brochures, trail markings, and a website. Phase II will include more development of the website and scheduled guided walks. Michael Lechance expressed the possibility of RVC creating a “package” about the geology of Nelson County and market it to college Geology classes. Liz Saregent noted that her friend Erin Cross was updating Keith Frye’s Roadside Book on Geology and that RVF should contact him.
Hank Gibb noted the “next steps” for RVF:
• The Working Committee should meet with Peter Agelasto about the scope of RVF and its current priorities.
• Peter Agelasto needs to convene a meeting of the programmatic chairmen to bring them all up to date on the RVF goals and priorities.
• A Nominating Committee needs to be established and potential candidates invited to attend Board Meetings . Additionally, the Board should begin to rotate some members off the Board.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.
Betsy Rawls Agelasto,