It was with some trepidation that I took over the office of Chapter Chair a year ago. I remember well how anxious I was when I first stood on the stage at the Eisenhart Auditorium and looked out at the audience with microphone in hand. Even worse was the apprehension I felt when I chaired my first Executive Committee meeting. I was expected to lead all of these people who I so admired for their accomplishments, skills, knowledge and dedication. How could I do that? It was soon made clear to me that I was among friends who would be supportive, and forgiving of any short-comings that I revealed. What I discovered was that the membership of ADK-GVC consists of a lot of down-to-earth and really NICE people. Wonderfully helpful folks who would do anything they could to make our common goals happen. All I had to do was ask for help and I would receive it.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have helped me over this past year. The members of the Executive Committee in particular have been outstanding. Whenever and wherever a need has arisen, all I have had to do was ask and people would respond by volunteering their time and efforts. I would love to name individuals except that there are so many, and I fear that I would leave someone out. However, I do want to make special mention of the Nominating Committee for 2008-2009; Rich Sensenbach, Gail Soucy, Jackson Thomas and Shirley Thomas. They had a particularly important and difficult task and have done a great job. I really appreciate all the hard work they put into the selection process. The result is a slate of candidates for the coming year that is perfect for the Chapter. I applaud and thank the candidates for their willingness to serve.
Being in a leadership position for ADK has been a rewarding experience for me. By stepping way outside my comfort zone I have grown personally and I am glad that I took this opportunity to serve. If any of you are thinking about getting more involved with ADK-GVC then I encourage you to go for it. There are many ways to become an active part of the group and I can tell you that the rewards that I have received from my volunteer positions have far outweighed the time and effort and difficulties. What I have found over my years of involvement with our Chapter is that I get back more than I give – including wonderful friends and unforgettable experiences.
Spring is here and we are all in the process of switching gears from cold to warm weather activities. I'm putting my snowshoes and skis into the basement and getting ready to unpack and reassemble my foldable kayak. My husband is cleaning out the garage and preparing to fix the John Deere tractor that one of us (we don't agree on who) damaged with our car this winter.
ADK-GVC is also getting ready for the new season with a multitude of activities planned. Spring cleaning is an important rite and the Spring Highway Cleanup is scheduled for May 3. This is a great opportunity to do something for your community (and many hands make much less work). I recently had an experience that made me realize how important programs like Adopt-A-Highway are.
I was on Mount Etna in Sicily on a beautiful spring day looking out over fantastic views of lava flows and craters and on down to the valley floor far below. The volcano is awe-inspiring from both a historical and geological perspective as it has been active almost continuously for thousands of years. Then, I looked down at my feet and saw a tremendous amount of trash and garbage strewn about and piled up off the edge of the parking lot on the lava. It was a sad and shocking sight.
Since that experience, I have been reflecting on how important all of our efforts to protect and improve our environment are. It is not only important to pick up the trash that our fellow humans leave behind, but it is equally important to educate people about the consequences of this thoughtless behavior. The philosophy of "leave no trace" that we try to live by on our ADK journeys is a way of life that benefits everyone and everything.
One of the best opportunities we have to educate and expose people to ways to enjoy the outdoors in a low-impact manner is our annual Outdoor Expo. This event will be held on June 14 and is also a wonderful volunteer opportunity. If people enjoy participating in outdoor activities that don't harm the environment, they are far less likely to "trash" it.
National Trails Day on June 7 is a celebration of hiking and trails and Mary Norman, Trails Committee Co-Chair, is organizing our participation in that event. This is another opportunity to volunteer your time for a great cause.
Please consider volunteering your time for your Chapter in one way or another. There are plenty of opportunities and the benefits to everyone (including the volunteer) are invaluable. Spring is not only a time for clean-up, but also for renewal. Renew your commitment to what ADK stands for by participating in our mission of public service and stewardship.
The Executive Committee
I've just finished composing the Agenda for the upcoming Executive Committee meeting and in considering possible topics for this column it occurred to me that until I became a member of the EC, I had absolutely no idea who this group was and what function it served. I would like to take this opportunity to clear up that mystery and also to thank the members of the group for all their hard work.
The Executive Committee has the important responsibility of conducting the business affairs of the Chapter. This group initiates and coordinates many of the day to day activities of our local chapter as well as communicating with the Main Club. The EC consists of the elected officers of the Chapter- Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Chapter Directors. In addition to the elected officers, the EC consists of the immediate Past-Chair and the Chairs of the Bookstore, Conservation, Education, History, Membership, Program, Publications, Publicity, Trails, and Waterways Committees.
The EC meets on the first Wednesday of the month from September through June. As Chair, one of my duties is to organize a discussion of concerns and activities of the EC members at this meeting by soliciting topics to be discussed as agenda items. I also request reports from the various Committee Chairs and elected Officers. A few examples of what was on the agenda for March are: a scheduling conflict with the museum for the September meeting, a Sierra Club Environmental forum in April, the Finger Lakes Trail Club Presidents Council meeting in March, a request for funding for an Outdoor Expo item, GVC trail stewardship in the Adirondacks, whether our proper acronym is GVC-ADK or ADK-GVC, and an action alert from the Main Club concerning Environmental Protection Funds being diverted to other uses. In addition, the Nominating Committee reported on their progress and a Donations Subcommittee updated us. The issues range from mundane (but important) housekeeping details, to more global concerns.
In the years that I have served on the Executive Committee I have seen how our EC members put their heart and soul into the Genesee Valley Chapter. They are devoted to the causes that ADK supports and they are always willing to contribute their time to the many activities that our Chapter is involved with. My term as Chair has been relatively easy and enjoyable because of the support, efforts, and counsel of the wonderful members of the Executive Committee. Please thank them when you see them – they do a fantastic job of running your Chapter!
The current members of the EC are; Laura Williams (Vice-Chair), Bruce Tehan (Secretary), Bill Crowe (Treasurer), Rich Sensenbach (Past-Chair), Judy Immesoete and Tom Wallenhorst (Directors), Jackson Thomas (Bookstore), Dave Harrison and Tim Noble (Conservation), Darlene Eastland (Education), Brent Morse (Historian), Sue Dougherty (Membership), Mary Warchocki and Kim Goppert (Programs), Joanne Mitchell (Publications), Doug Smith (Publicity), Charlie Helman (Waterways), Dan Young and Mary Norman (Trails), Paula Chase (Younger Members), and Alternate Directors Gail Soucy, Shirley Thomas, and Steve Tryon.
Educating the Community
Central to the mission of the Adirondack Mountain Club is environmental education. The importance of this area was brought home to me a few days ago while visiting friends in southwest Florida. (Yes, I confess to succumbing to temptation and leaving our cold weather for a few days.)
My friends own a lovely riverfront property and when showing me around it they bemoaned the fact that they are unable to build a seawall (as their neighbors have done) because of regulations that prevent the destruction of the "pesky" mangroves that line their waterfront. A few days later we headed to the National Wildlife Refuge located on Sanibel Island where we participated in a guided tour which included a discussion of mangroves and their importance to the health of the coastal ecosystem. The result of this educational experience was immediate. When we returned to their home, my friends took ownership of "their" mangroves and were pleased to know that they were contributing to the health of their patch of Florida coast by having mangroves instead of a wall. All it took was a thought-provoking and enjoyable educational experience to bring home the value of preserving an incredibly important native plant.
There are so many ways that ADK as a whole, and our Chapter in particular contributes to the environmental education of our community. Foremost are our monthly Chapter meetings where programs are presented by our Education and Programs Committees to our membership and the general public. These programs are eclectic and far-reaching and always serve the purpose of informing the audience about some aspect of responsible outdoor recreation and/or important environmental issues in an enjoyable and entertaining manner. For example, I first heard the term "Old Growth Forest" at a Chapter program and was recently able explain to members of my family who use a downhill ski area in Massachusetts why the expansion of the ski area into a stand of Old Growth Forest is an important and valid concern.
Our local and "away" outings are another facet of our focus on education. Simply by giving people the opportunity to get out hiking/snowshoeing, skiing, or paddling causes them to "take ownership" of the environment because it becomes personal. When the issue of the potential development of the Hemlock/ Canadice Lake area comes up, the people who have paddled or hiked in the area have a personal stake. Similarly, with the Corbett's Glen development proposal in Penfield/ Brighton- those who have hiked there are able to fully appreciate the importance of its preservation.
Last, but certainly not least, our annual Outdoor Expo is a fantastic opportunity for educating so very many people in the benefits of responsible enjoyment of our environment. What a wonderful venue Expo is for our community, as a way to expose hundreds of people to an educational experience like no other.
Do I sound proud of what our Chapter does to educate our community? You bet I am!
Please Go Outside and Play!
February can be a difficult time of the year for many people in our part of the world. There's not a lot of sun and the cold and short days tend to keep us inside. The busy holidays are over and the gloomy weather looms for quite a few weeks into the future with spring a long way away.
Fortunately, the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club comes to the rescue! There is no need for GVC members to sit indoors getting depressed and over-eating and wishing we were someplace warm and sunny. All that we have to do is open our Geneseean or go to our website or call our Hotline (585-987-1717) to investigate the numerous opportunities to get outside and avoid the winter doldrums.
Sunday Hikes continue year-round each and every Sunday morning. Check the Hotline at option 3 for the schedule and details. The Sunday Hikers go out in almost any weather and it will lift your spirits to hike with this friendly group. Hikes are also scheduled for most Saturdays and listed on the Hotline at option 8 and on the website. Or, perhaps you'd like to explore a few of our beautiful local parks on cross country skis. Gary Dewitt has some excursions scheduled for Webster and Powder Mill Park that will appeal to all skill levels. Several local snowshoe trips are scheduled. Spend a winter evening snowshoeing with Rich Sensenbach or Carol Theil. Think about heading out with the Younger Members to snowshoe Letchworth Park, Bare Hill, or Wesley Hill. (Don't worry if you are more than thirty-something, as all are welcomed.)
If you would like to travel further afield you can head on up to Camp Gorham with Bob Borland for a Winter Sport Trip Weekend of skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking. Consider a hike to Big Slide Mountain or a beginner's winter backpack to Tabletop Mountain. The Annual Loj Trip is another great opportunity to get outside and enjoy what winter has to offer in the Adirondacks. Once again Judy Immesoete has done a fantastic job of organizing this gathering and she has reserved the entire Adirondack Loj for our Chapter's use for the last weekend in February.
When I was a little girl my mom used to entreat all of us kids (there were 6 of us) to PLEASE GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY. I think her goal was to get some housework done without us underfoot, but the result was that we did indeed go outside and play in all kinds of weather and we had a glorious time. I have found that as an adult I can once again experience that same child-like wonder and pleasure when I go outside in the winter and "play" with my ADK family. Dragging my lazy bones out of my warm house has gotten more difficult, but I never regret it when I make the effort.
Thank you to all of the many volunteer leaders that make these outings and events possible. You do more for our mental health in the winter than any counseling or pharmaceutical could ever do.
Donations Received and Given
As I sit down to write the January Message from the Chair, it is early December and the holiday gift giving-and-receiving season is getting into full swing. It seems an appropriate time of the year to let our membership know about donations that we have received and donations that we have made.
Our Chapter has been the recipient of a very generous donation of $745 from Eastern Mountain Sports in support of National Trails Day. The Trails Committee was asked to make recommendations for the use of these funds and after careful consideration three choices were made. Each choice supports the mission of National Trails Day which is to inspire the public to discover, learn about and celebrate trails.
We are donating money to cover the cost of bus transportation and entrance fees for elementary school children from School 36 to the Tinker Nature Center for a field trip led by ADK member and teacher Tricia Cook. The majority of these children have never had the opportunity to hike or enjoy other outdoor activities and some of them have never been outside the city. We received input from our editor, Joanne, on her experiences with these children- "On one occasion Tricia got a grant to pay for a bus to take the class to Durand Eastman Park in the winter. That was a huge adventure! We looked at animal tracks in the snow, and looked at seed pods, and marveled at the size of the ponds. The kids climbed up a hill and rolled down it. Such a simple thing, and yet Tricia said they were still talking about that trip right up into June. When she would ask them to write a little paragraph about a topic of their choice, months later they were still writing about the time they climbed a "mountain" in the snow and rolled down it."
The next donation is in support of the newly formed Edison High School Hiking Club. Judy Immesoete has been working with the club's advisor and has already organized a donation of equipment by our membership to the group. She describes these young people as enthusiastic and excited to learn all about hiking and trails and the out-of-doors. I think Judy says it best – "This is just exactly what we are about, supporting those who want to learn and experience nature and its wonders."
The final donation is to the Thousand Acre Swamp for land use. Thousand Acre Swamp is a Nature Conservancy sanctuary with an extensive boardwalk and trail system which allows visitors to observe a wide variety of plants and wildlife in a unique wetland habitat.
Thank you so very much to Eastern Mountain Sports (and Denis Walsh, the Pittsford EMS Store Manager) for making this donation to our Chapter. In addition, Denis has informed us that the Genesee Valley Chapter of the ADK has been chosen by our local EMS store to be the recipient of a donation of 1% of their Grand Opening Weekend sales. We will use this donation, when it becomes available, to support and reach out to outdoor organizations in our community.
In addition, our Chapter will be making a donation from our funds to the Main Club in the amount of $500. Half of this will be for unrestricted use at the Club's discretion. The remaining half is designated for the restoration and repair of the men's bathroom at the Loj at Heart Lake. We donated money last year towards the women's bathroom restoration - I heard that it is much improved! (Join us on the Annual Loj trip this coming February and experience the improved facilities for yourself.)
Announcing a Volunteer Opportunity
Each year a Nominating Committee is established which has the important role of determining a slate of candidates for the elected Offices of our Chapter. I am soliciting volunteers to be considered for appointment to the Committee. The Nominating Committee must be appointed by the Chair and approved by the Executive Committee by the date of the February chapter meeting and it will list candidates for office in the May issue of the Geneseean. Please contact me at email@example.com or 585-388-1903 if you are interested in serving on this committee or would like to discuss it further. This is a great opportunity to serve your chapter!
Meeting with Executive Director Neil Woodworth
On November 7 our Executive Committee hosted Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. [Photographs] The meeting was open to all ADK members and there was excellent participation. A wide range of topics were addressed by Neil in this open forum – from questions of liability to future challenges that ADK will face. We discussed the nuts-and-bolts issues that our Chapter deals with, ranging from what activities we can sponsor to whom we can and should donate funds. We looked at the big picture of conservation and environmental protection now and into the future. Neil talked with us about our local concerns and about how ADK can help us in our endeavors.
The Adirondack Mountain Club – it's not just about the Adirondacks! It was eye-opening to learn the scope of activity that the ADK engages in and the power that we have as a group to influence what happens to the environment in New York State, including our local area. ADK's influence and interests are not limited to Adirondack Park issues. ADK has the clout and skill to win local battles, and there are very few issues that the Main Club cannot advise us on. One issue is the future of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. In this regard, Neil feels strongly that Genesee Valley Chapter, with help from the main Club, can and should advocate for the New York State's allocation of a portion of its multi-million dollar Environmental Protection Fund to the acquisition of those two lakes so that they can be permanently protected from development.
In his remarks to the Executive Committee, Neil Woodworth pointed out that over the next 20 years the final allocation of a major portion of the undeveloped private lands in the Adirondack Park will occur. At the present time 55% of land in the Adirondacks is undeveloped private forest and ADK will be instrumental in helping to make sure that much of this land will be protected from development and made available for responsible public recreation use. The Finch, Pruyn & Company land purchase by the Nature Conservancy is an interesting example of why these lands become available. Paper companies such as Finch, Pruyn are selling off major land holdings in the Adirondacks because pulp and paper are now part of a global market, rather than simply a local product (it now costs less to import pulp than to use local product). As these companies divest themselves of this expensive land it becomes available for protection. Family estates are another source of land – Adirondack land is now so valuable that the estates are finding it necessary to sell the land to pay the estate taxes.
Neil also pointed out the challenges facing the ADK as a result of climate change. Warming temperatures are opening the Adirondacks to many dangerous invaders. For example, various tree pathogens are now threatening the forest. (One way we as individuals can help with limiting the spread of tree pathogens is to only use local wood when we travel into areas like the Adirondack Park.) Another climate-related challenge actually relates to snowmobiling. With 40 to 60% less snow in the Adirondacks in recent years snowmobile registrations are down 40%. This sounds like a good thing to many of us . . . however Neil feels that as snowmobile use decreases, there will be great political pressure to allow ATVs to use snowmobile trails in the Park. A wealth of information was shared at this meeting and I want to thank Neil Woodworth for spending an evening with us. ADK is a force to be reckoned with and exciting times are ahead!
What's Happening in Waterways and Trails
Committees are the primary way that our Chapter accomplishes the ADK's mission of responsible outdoor recreation, advocacy, environmental education, and natural resource conservation. The various Committees of the GVC-ADK are listed in this newsletter and on our website. For this column I have asked the Trails and Waterways Committee Chairs to let us know what is currently going on in their Committees.
Charlie Helman, Chair of Waterways reports that they have had a full paddle schedule that is winding down for this year. (As I am writing this, I am reflecting on a wonderful paddle that I went on yesterday with the Waterways group on Hemlock Lake- what a jewel this Finger Lake is, and what a resource we have in Charlie and our Waterways Committee to enable us to enjoy such opportunities.) On Saturday September 15th, for the third year in a row, Waterways put together their own version of a Highway Clean-up. The Committee timed their event to be done at the same time that other local efforts on behalf of the International Coastal Clean-up Day were taking place. Twenty-six paddlers assembled at BayCreek Paddlesports and put 14 canoes into Irondequoit Creek and Bay. BayCreek was kind enough to loan Waterways six canoes (free of charge) as well as giving them a place to dump the collected garbage when they returned to the dock. Charlie estimates that the group collected approximately 1000 pounds of garbage! Next year, Charlie plans to schedule two events like this with one in the spring and one in the fall. (How's that for giving back to the community- way to go Paddlers!!)
Mary Norman, Co-Chair of Trails reports that the Committee is grappling with a longstanding issue: how to provide an array of varied and interesting trips for our membership and, most importantly, finding volunteers to lead these trips. In addition, the Committee often hears from Chapter members who are reluctant to participate in a trip because of its' perceived difficulty or because the trip is not family-friendly. To remedy these problems, the Trails Committee is attempting a three-pronged approach. First, the Committee members are inviting past trip leaders to volunteer their services to again lead trips for the winter 2008 season. The theory is, if you've led a particular trip in the past; why not repeat a previous years' success? Second, Dan Young (Co-Chair of Trails) is contacting local organizations and parks to see if Trails can partner with them to offer local family outings. These outings would be weekend afternoon events, such as snowshoeing, ice-skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing, which would require minimal time commitment and allow young families to socialize with others. Third, the Committee has posted a call for new trip leaders in the Trails section of the Geneseean; asking people who have toyed with the idea of leading the trip of their dreams to come forward and make it happen.
Please, help Mary and Dan and the Trails Committee in their efforts to provide us with a full schedule of opportunities to explore the outdoors on foot. (While writing this article I am thinking fondly of recent trips I have participated in with Trails- including a relaxing women's trip with Judy and Donna, a lovely fall backpack with Mary and Bill, and I am looking forward to an exciting trip to the Hudson Valley with Karin. Thank you to Dan and Mary and the Trails trip leaders for providing such a variety of offerings.)
Consider choosing a Committee to participate in. Active participation by our membership in Committees is vital to the health and well-being of the Chapter and, in addition, a wonderful way to meet and socialize with some great people. Without the Committees featured in this column there would be far fewer organized Genesee Valley Chapter recreation activities- no hikes, no paddling, and no fun!!
Concerning a completely different subject; while paddling and conversing with Jim Bird, Vice President of the Main Club, I learned that the Main Club is in need of donations in order to continue the work that is so important to all of us. Yes, I know we all pay dues, but if we can contribute just a little bit more to the ADK, the money will be put to good use and will make a big difference in what the ADK can accomplish in the short and long-term.
In Praise of Trip Leaders
There is something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and I'm going to take the opportunity to do it right now. That is, to pay tribute to Genesee Valley Chapter Trip Leaders. We, in the Chapter, owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. By way of illustrating this, I am going to share some of my personal story with you.
For years after moving to the Rochester area I was so busy with my profession and practice (I am a veterinarian) that I didn't dwell too much on what the area had to offer as far as outdoor recreation. As I traveled the New York State Thruway to visit family in New England I noticed the exits marked "Adirondack Region" and wondered just what that region was. About all I knew was what an Adirondack chair looked like (now I AM an "Adirondack Chair" – how's that for irony?) and I had heard about people called "forty-sixers" who spent a lot of time doing something or other in the Adirondacks- such was the abysmal depth of my ignorance.
Then I reached a point in my life where I had a little more leisure time and I began to look with increasing longing at the natural world surrounding me. I had always enjoyed being outside but having no experience (and very little sense of direction) I didn't go far. Then a friend suggested that we try backpacking and we discovered a Beginner's Backpacking Trip offered by the local chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. This was my first experience with the Club and with GVC Trip Leaders and I was hooked! After being coaxed up my first High Peak by a Trip Leader I even understood what an incredible accomplishment being a 46er was. Since then I have been guided on hikes through the multitude of parks with which our area abounds, escorted on paddles on innumerable lakes and rivers, and of course, spent a lot of time hiking, backpacking, camping, snowshoeing, paddling and climbing in our incredible Adirondack Park- all because of the dedication of our wonderful Trip Leaders.
I would have done none of this without you, Trip Leaders. I can't even begin to list the ways in which you have expanded my horizons and enriched my life. I also know that I am not alone in feeling this. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the majority of our members' first experience with the ADK (and their reason for joining our Chapter) has been due to trips led by our Trip Leaders.
So, I can't thank you enough, GVC Trip Leaders, for giving of your expertise and time so freely and graciously. You are the best!
(By the way, if anybody reading this would like to be admired and emulated by people like me, you too could become a Trip Leader. Our chapter offers a Trip Leader Training Workshop each spring [usually in April] where you can acquire the requisite knowledge to lead trips.)
A River's Tale
It's time to write my first column as your new Chair. I've served as your Treasurer for the past five years and all I've had to write have been checks so this is quite a change for me. I've thought and thought about what to say and have decided to write about what I did for my summer vacation (feel free to groan now).
I grew up in North Central Massachusetts and most of my family still lives there. While visiting them this summer, I was shocked to find myself paddling on a beautiful waterway called the Nashua River. What was so shocking about this? It was because when I was growing up in the area the Nashua was definitely NOT beautiful. It was a nasty polluted river about which bad jokes were made. What color is the Nashua today? What IS that stuff floating in it anyway? Best not to look too close...
The Nashua River has had a long history of abuse. It had been polluted since the mid 1800s by the paper mills, shoe and textile factories lining its' banks. By 1965 the Nashua had the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted rivers in the nation with its chief form of aquatic life being sewage worms. Finally, a group of private citizens formed a coalition to advocate for the Nashua and over the course of the past 30 years have reclaimed the river so that now it is a place of beauty and a source of pride.
Why am I telling you about a river in Massachusetts? The reason is that I see it as both an inspirational and a cautionary tale. The story of this river is inspirational as an example of the power of individual citizens joining as a group (like the Adirondack Mountain Club) to advocate for our environment. It is cautionary in that it demonstrates that the constant vigilance of groups like the ADK is essential to the effort to keep our environment clean and healthy and intact. The abuse of the Nashua occurred in an environmentally less enlightened time, but we should not be lulled into a false sense of security that such abuse or outright destruction could not happen again.
As I was paddling along the banks of the now lovely Nashua, I thought a lot about how proud I am of the Adirondack Mountain Club. The Club has been and continues to be a powerful advocate for conservation within New York. For example, it is in large part due to the strong and influential voice of the ADK that the Zoar Valley has recently been given protection as a Forever Wild area. Quoting a jubilant e-mail message from Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, "The Governor has just signed ADK's Zoar Valley bill which gives forever wild protection to the magnificent Zoar Valley! Four years ago ADK was the first organization to champion this legislation to forever protect this magnificent gorge. Thanks to the Niagara Frontier and Genesee Valley Chapters for their help in getting this vital legislation passed and signed by the Governor."
Suffice it to say that I am very proud to be part of this wonderful organization and I promise to do my best to serve you well as your Chair for the next year. Rich Sensenbach has finished his term leaving the Chapter in great shape. I am supported by the help and advice of many people, including Rich. This is YOUR chapter and I look forward to hearing from any member at any time with concerns or suggestions.