Annual Board Meeting
March 29, 2008
Attending: Betsy Agelasto, Parker Agelasto, Peter Agelasto III, Peter Agelasto IV, Joe Prueher, Michael LeChance, Chris Gensic, Russ Reid, Paul Davis, Chip Morgan; Charlotte Rae, Volunteer executive coordinator.
Absent: Waite Rawls.
New members: Hank Gibb, Jim Halley
The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Rockfish Valley Foundation Board of Trustees was called to order by the chairman Peter A. Agelasto III at 1:30 pm on Saturday, March 29, 2008. Mr. Agelasto introduced Charlotte Rae, the new Volunteer Executive Coordinator. He first worked with Ms. Rae in establishment of the Central Blue Ridge Master Naturalist chapter. Chip Morgan, Paul Davis, Hank Gibb, and Jim Halley were nominated to the board; they were elected unanimously.
The treasurer, Parker Agelasto, presented the 2008 Budget for discussion. The SunTrust Bank balance as of 3/24-/08 is $8648.22.
Of this amount, $4000 has been earmarked for remaining expenses designated in grant money. Grants received in 2007 were $4000 from CBR, $2000 from BAMA Works and $2500 from CACF. A donation of $5000
was received from the Fidelity Charitable Fund and individual donations totaled $785. The balance of approximately $4,500 will be used for future expenses, such as decking the bridges and advertising and administrative expenses. It was suggested that an element of administrative expenses be included in future grant requests. The chairman asked Russ Reed and Parker Agelasto to review the financial reporting process and set up such systems as are appropriate under the tax accounting for non profits.
A trustee asked for clarification on the insurance of RVF. Mr. Agelasto stated there was a $1 million liability umbrella policy and that the company that writes it is able to keep the premium low because of a Virginia state law pertaining to non profits and activities of those invited. The chairman added that the Rockfish Valley Farm has a separate umbrella policy and that another state code protects the landowner from liability for agri-tourism activities where no entrance fee is charged. Mr. Agelasto will review specific issues on policy coverage with his insurance agency including areas of potential liability and whether or not to raise the coverage.
Mr. Agelasto discussed the McKee Carson presentation given at Spruce Creek Gallery Park by Hunter McCardle who outlined a process for strategic master planning which could be done by his firm for RVF. Mr. McCardle not only is impressed with the RVF as a wonderful community resource, but also sees it as an example from which other property owners might learn and use to create future community projects. Mr. McCardle commented that he has “dreamed” of the idea of taking public land and private land and working to make an environmental community.
The chairman presented a steering committee proposal for a dog park and dog agility course at Spruce Creek Park. With the proposed name of Louie’s Place, it could become a magnet for community interest and support and a development tool for the needs of RVF. Mr. Agelasto has approached a local foundation which often supports projects involving domestic animals about a possibly submitting a request for $10,000.
A community fund raising campaign would also be necessary. Questions were raised about such issues as how well this supported the RVF mission, about insurance, budget, parking, partnerships with others (vet clinics, animal shelters, trainers, etc.) and website and advertising expenses. Concern was expressed that this might drain time and resources from RVF. It was noted however that a leash rule on the RVF trails might be necessary in the future because of the increase of people and dogs on the trails and that the park might give people with dogs another place to take their dogs. Another trustee expressed his concern that already there was an increased demand for parking at the Spruce Creek Gallery by people using the trails which often causes a problem for customers and residential tenants at the Gallery. All these matters warrant further consideration and solution.
The discussion moved to foundation growth and fund raising. The chairman commented that foundation growth could address both the dog and people elements which might give RVF a great opportunity to expand
its programs and projects. Foundation growth should also involve developing volunteer opportunities. The MISSION of RVF with its strong emphasis on the environment should always be considered. There was discussion about a level of disconnect between Spruce Creek Park and the RVF Trail. Suggestions were made how to better relate one with the other. The Trails committee will suggest improved signage to address this problem.
Peter Agelasto IV expressed his thoughts about the mission of RVF and ideas discussed with Hunter McCardle. He drew the visual analogy of tossing a basketball at a goal: Can something be created that will give a fair test of how future ideas fit the mission statement? Would each idea raise excitement among people which would in turn help to raise money? Would RVF partner with others on projects which would in turn make the community feel ownership of the project? Would the project bring people together? Peter IV repeated the mission of the RVF was to promote and preserve the history, agriculture, uniqueness, and environment of the Rockfish Valley. He felt there was the opportunity to create models that could be recreated in other communities. RVF has set about to provide a rural tourism experience, to promote environmental stewardship, and to encourage recreation and a healthy lifestyle.
A major theme throughout the day was partnering with other groups to broaden the RVF base and to minimize any perception that RVF was promoting the public good for any private benefit. Partnerships, committees and board participation that reached out into the community were encouraged. Perhaps fund raising could also be partnered. One or more fund drives will be necessary to support the budget and activities.
Discussion returned to the dog agility park. Partnerships for the dog park were particularly encouraged for fundraising, management, etc.
The Board felt that the response from foundation was important. If their interest was not strong, the Board would discuss the park before going forward. If their interest was positive, then Mr. Agelasto should work towards the August 1 grant deadline. The question of whether the inclusion of the dog agility park should be in the 2008 Budget was postponed until RVF heard from the grant inquiry.
The need to budget for Hunter McCardle and McKee Carson was discussed. His firm is excited about working with RVF. Is there a possibility of their doing it pro bono? Would it be interested in being a partner? How can RVF help McKee Carson? Mr. Agelasto commented that Wintergreen Country Store Land Trust might help with some funding. A combination of pro bono work, grants and community fundraising should be the direction of RVF to keep the momentum for a master plan and to implement prioritized goals and objectives.
The chairman told the board about several projects in which RVF is involved. He has met with Bob Carter, a new resident of Nelson County, to work on a Rural Historic District proposal for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Mr. Agelasto recognized Paul Davis for his construction of 42 blue bird boxes and installing them along the trails and for his work with removing invasive plants. Mr. Agelasto is working with Cory Anderson of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission on a new map of the Rockfish Valley Trails. Lynn Rainville and students of Sweet Briar College are doing a research project at the Elk Hill cemetery. Earl Swift spoke about the James River and Hurricane Camille on March 29 at ELK HILL. RVF partnered with the Nelson Country Historical Society and Oakland for this event and one at the Nelson Center on March 28. A Hurricane Camille Historic marker will be installed on April 21 and dedicated on August 19. A DEQ stream monitoring education program will be held on April 17. A Starry Nights program is planned for May 16 in partnership with the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and the CBR Master Naturalist chapter. Future plans include a Plein Air Paint Out in the fall and a Kite Flying Event in Spring 2009. All of these will be done with partners.
The meeting concluded with a discussion of ways to generate revenue. Ideas included obtaining sponsorships for events, continuing cultivation of the community, and considering a fund raising event such as a BBQ with music and a bonfire. It was also suggested that RVF have a targeted approach to major donors and should continue to work on partnerships with other groups. One of these should be Wintergreen Resort because the RVF trails and events add to the quality of the life of Wintergreen guests and employees. Another should be partnership with the Wintergreen Nature Foundation. A trustee suggested posting a request for donations on the Bulletin Board and the website and at the same time post a request for volunteers. Other suggestions were to pass the hat at events, to have people sign up on an email list, to send an email with a click through to send money, and to hold a fund drive three times a year (April, September, and December). Naming opportunities for picnic tables, trails etc. were also mentioned.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m. A dinner followed at 6:00 p.m. with lively discussion about The Rockfish Valley Foundation and its future.
Betsy Rawls Agelasto
Postscript: On April 4, VFH announced a $2000 grant for the ELK HILL Cemetery project. Lynn Rainville reworked her budget with a provision for her services to be provided without charge to bring the budget into line with the grant amount. Mr. Agelasto has been meeting with the principals of McKee Carson and they are contributing their time pro bono in the early planning stage for the master plan. A group met on April 24 for a dialogue on enhancing birding on the trails. Mr. Agelasto has had several conversations with his insurance and he is reviewing the options for the RVF.