Friends' LogoThe Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes of Meetings in 1994

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for February 1, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. Mar. 1, 1994 at 7:15

Our guests at this meeting were: Jack Hunt, officer in charge of operations of the Needham Police Dept.; Officers Hugh Downey, Frank Eldredge, and Kevin Copoli (sp.?) of the Newton Police Dept. The latter guests were invited by Brian Yates who was unable to attend. Friends' members present were: Vaunita Schnell, Ken Newcomb, Don Cusack, Jo-Anne Carr, Nina Koch, Cindy Edwards, Jim Purdy, John Mordes, Tony Penna, and Hannah Sherman.

Vaunita welcomed the guests, introduced the members, and outlined our problems with supervision of Echo Bridge. The increase in graffiti during the past year or so is disheartening. She says the MDC used to police the area. Cindy Edwards explained her objections to the noise of night-time parties on the bridge.

It is pointed out that the bridge belongs to the MWRA, but the police seemed willing to try to help supervise. Mr. Hunt said that a "No Trespassing" sign is needed, and that even if it is knocked down it is still a legal deterrent. Mr. Downey remarked that a sign MUST be there before police can help. Some of the people accosted by police now are listed and reprimanded later even if this does not happen at the moment of meeting. He spoke of the wide geographic area from which partying persons come, referring especially to use of the bridge by "hazing" groups from local colleges. Police have reported misdemeanors of Babson students to that school for disciplinary action. He suggests gates at the ends of the bridge to be closed when the property is not open to the public. Fences kept trespassers away during the recent renovation and could do so again. Jim Purdy says he does not want fences. Lighting the bridge seems to be the best solution.

Mr. Hunt says the Needham police could walk through the property once or twice a week. Newton police agree that they, too, could do this. Mr. Hunt also said that if alcohol is a problem, a few arrests would quickly spread the word that such behavior is unacceptable. Jim Purdy suggests we all telephone the MWRA to ask for

  1. No Trespassing sign
  2. Lights
  3. Removal of graffiti (When Ranger Rob McArthur removed graffiti last fall, it was quickly replaced)

Mr. Downey suggests we ask Brian Yates to have "No Parking" signs on Winter and Summer Streets. After midnight cars in the lot by the antique mall are towed, .If there were also no parking on the above-named streets, trespassers would not find the Gorge so accessible

After al1 this, the guests departed and we returned to our ongoing projects:

Respectfully Submitted,

Hannah Sherman, Secretary

Post Script:

Since this report was written, we learned from Rob McArthur that "No Trespassing" signs are being produced and will be in position by graffiti time-in April. He feels we may need to pester the authorities in the spring if they do not remove graffiti then. No action is necessary now.

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for March 1, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. Apr. 5, 1994 at 7:15

CORRECTION: Brian Yates did not get the Ellis Stone Barn onto the list of Endangered Historical Buildings. He only NOMINATED it to be added to the list. Your secretary apologizes for this error.

Present at the March meeting were: Vaunita Schnell, John Mordes, Rob McArthur, Ken Newcomb, Brian Yates (for a few minutes), Cindy Edwards (who arrived later), and Hannah Sherman.

Rob McArthur reports that the No Trespassing signs will be posted as soon as the ground thaws. They will be at the Ellis Stone Building; on Ellis Street at the foot of the stairs to Echo Bridge; at Reservoir Street: at Hamilton Place; and at the top of the stairs to the bridge.

Rob has spoken with the State Police who say they will try to patrol the property. Rob says they need constant reminders to do this and he will remind them again. He is hoping that Lt. Ryan can attend our April meeting or send a representative.

Ken Newcomb reports on his talk with Mr. Wolozin, of the Mills Falls Restaurant, about lighting the Gorge at night. After the restaurant closes at night, we might share the cost of leaving its lights on to discourage interlopers. Mr. Wolozin asked whom to call in case of trouble at night. He is interested in sharing the electric bill with us. We discussed the financial aspect of this, with John Mordes being most informative about the low cost of lighting. He says buying the appropriate lights is more expensive than the electricity. The feeling is that the cooperation with the restaurant should be temporary until we can get our own electric meter and lighting equipment.

Cindy Edwards told about a fracas on Echo Bridge on Sat. Feb. 26 at about 10 P.M. She saw 7 or 8 guys with cases of beer, drinking, urinating, and kicking a car which was parked near the bridge. When she called the police, 2 cruisers came, the officers picked up the beer cases, and sent the boys away. Rob says a similar thing occurred several years ago but with about 50 kids. Cindy feels that the police should do more to punish the miscreants. She has called the station to complain and was told that the boys were not drunk. Cindy wants us to complain too. Write to Hugh Downey, Youth Officer of the Newton Police and/or Alderman Brian Yates to comment on this incident. Vaunita says she will contact Officer Downey.

GRAFFITI has been removed from the sides of Echo Bridge. However, Cindy says there is still plenty of it on the top of the bridge. Call Tom Gowrys to insist that graffiti be removed.

MEMBERSHIP-Jo Anne Carr sent thank-you notes to new, dues-paying Members. Now Vaunita has the membership list but does not know who has been thanked!

ELLIS STONE BUILDING-a display of the presentation boards for renovating the building could go up at the Wellesley Public Library about April l.

Rob says a guard-rail from the MDC might be available for the parking space we hope to have at the corner of Ellis St. and Rte.9. We still need to attend another meeting at Newton City Hall to convince the City representatives that we are in earnest about it.

FRIEND'S BRIDGE-Rob says that Brian Broderick suggests using old I-beams from a construction company as basis for the proposed bridge opposite the Devil's Den. These could be faced with wood for a rustic effect. Several members pointed out that this would make the project more expensive, that it would no longer be a rustic bridge, that footing for the steel beams would have to be below the frost line.

John Mordes volunteers to ask a friend who is a lawyer in the State D.E.P. to address our May meeting.

Ken Newcomb shows us designs for a badge for Gorge Friends.

THE WOOLLY ADELGID has progressed to the SW corner of Massachusetts. It is now attacking hemlocks in Upton.


This meeting adjourned at 8:35 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,

Hannah M. Sherman, Secretary

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for April 5, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. May 3, 1994 at 7:15

Present at this meeting were: Vaunita Schnell; Rob McArthur; Brian Yates; Ken Newcomb: John Mordes; Tony Penna; Don Cusack; and Hannah Sherman.

FUTURE DATES for your information:

Rob McArthur reports that he talks regularly with the State Police about, supervision of the Gorge. They do patrol daily but do not do much night work. Brian Yates suggests that we ask the Wellesley Police to help. Rob says they do help at Elm Bank so he will suggest they help us, too. Wellesley Electric Co. wants a line for lighting Rte. 9 near Ellis St. Could they extend the scope of the lights to include more illumination for the Ellis Stone Building?

The CONSERVATION LAW FOUNDATION has Tuesday noon meetings with lectures about environmental problems and open-space properties. There are only 2 more meetings of this group this spring.

The COALITION FOR THE METROPOLITAN PARK System has 2 more meetings this spring, also. These will discuss the proposed park service and the inaugural meeting of the GREEN RIBBON COMMITTEE. These meetings will be on April 13 and April 21.

On APRIL 19 THE GREEN RIBBON COMMISSION will have its 1st meeting at Castle Island. This is the start of a series of meetings at several suburban reservations where the host Friends groups can show their properties, distribute their literature, and present to the committee their needs. The Apr.19 meeting will be from 11:30-1:30 but subsequent meetings will be in the late afternoon. We should send them some of our publicity releases.


The Newton C.I.P. has been asked to put our suggested parking-lot plans into an earlier budget so that construction could begin in 1995. We must alert the neighbors to our plan and assure them that they may use the lot, too. The site must be identified by a sign. Rob McArthur brought to this meeting 2 signs (one No Trespassing, and one Welcome) which will be mounted at the Gorge this spring. There will be 3 pairs of signs, but there is no sign for the Ellis Stone Building yet.

PHASE 2 of the restoration of Echo Bridge is starting. On THURS. APRIL 7 at 7:45 a meeting at Newton City Hall will (did'?) discuss this project. The Newton Historical District Committee will hear our ideas. The project must include: new railings on Echo Bridge; repair of the staircase to the Echo platform; rebuilding of the Echo platform; landscaping of the hill beside the staircase; removal of the present chain-link fence; installation of security lighting. Rob will telephone Tom Gowrys to be sure this is done.

The ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CLUB .at Newton South High School will have an Earth Day Celebration at which Vaunita Schnell will speak about Hemlock Gorge. This will be April 28.


The Ellis Stone Building Committee must be reactivated to complete its research into the history of the building if we want to ask for money from the IST. This group has money to upgrade historical sites next to public highways. Massachusetts has had little money from them in the past, but it is felt that this will change. However, the IST needs to see actual plans of the restoration and a complete history of the building before they can consider giving funds for the work. We have only our presentation boards, not working plans. Rob says records of the building should be in the Norfolk County Court House.

The Wellesley Historical Society is not interested in the Ellis Building because they insist the building is in Newton!!!

Also, there is not enough space to display our boards properly at the Wellesley Public Library. Rob says an article with the plans for the building might be put in the Wellesley Townsman and thus prove helpful.

This meeting adjourned at 8:45 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,

Hannah M. Sherman, Secretary

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for June 7, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. September 15, 1994 at 7:15

In June, as in May, we were again locked out of our reserved space at Emerson Center. This time we met at a picnic table in the adjacent park. Since only 6 of us were present, this worked very well. The light breeze kept us comfortable until the mosquitoes arrived. We do not look forward to trying this in the winter.

Present were: Vaunita Schnell, Ken Newcomb, Brian Yates, Cindy Edwards, Adolph Passarini, and Hannah Sherman. John Mordes put in a cameo appearance.

Vaunita thanked all who attended the Clean-up Day, and showed pictures she took then.

Rob McArthur did not attend this meeting, and neither did the State Police representatives who he had said. would come to this meeting.

It was suggested that we sponsor a sort of Village Day and close streets around the Gorge to set up booths for local merchants to sell things, have a jazz band to play, have a photographer show pictures of the property, etc. Brian Yates says that to do this we should contact the Upper Falls Development Committee whose president is Jack Neville of High St.

LAST EVENT OF THE SEASON-- PICNIC JUNE18 at NOON. This will be over by the time you receive this! Rob McArthur has said he will bring a grill, but he can not stay for the whole time. We hope somebody else will care for the grill after he leaves. Vaunita says she will put notices of the picnic in the Newton Graphic and in the Needham weekly and daily papers. It is suggested that we buy a banner to hang over the street from the Moon-and-Sixpence shop to the other side. The banner should have removable panels so we can use it for other events, too.

The next monthly meeting will be in September--either the 13th or the 15t .Please let us know your preference in this matter. Also in the fall we should elect new officers. PLEASE COME and let us know your opinions.

The Stone Building Committee did not meet this month. Vaunita says she will reactivate the committee. Brian Yates points out that Highway Dept. funds for restoring the building will not be available for a year and that we need to ask the MDC to fund a more detailed plan than we now have if we intend to ask the Highway Dept. for financial help.

Ken Newcomb presents his "walking tour" of the Gorge, a detailed history of the property, complete with old tales about the place. Ken says this needs to be edited before he can offer it for sale. Brian Yates offers to edit it.

Vaunita Schnell says we will not appear at Newton Highlands Village Day this year. She suggests we appear at the Harvest Fair in the Fall. When is this fair?

Adolph Passarini says we can buy new T-shirts in Upper Falls now that our original supplier has gone out of business.

Ken Newcomb mentions the complaint of Mr. Wolozin (of the Mills Falls restaurant) about the odor and filth of the water just below the balcony of his restaurant. Brian Yates suggests he contact the Army Corps of Engineers who control the dam for flood control. ailing this, e should try Nick Winter of the MDC to request periodic flushing of the lagoon.

Brian Yates reports that he went to a meeting of the Blue Ribbon Committee where other Friends Groups were represented. He showed our brochures and our new buttons.

This meeting adjourned at 8:35.

Respectfully Submitted,

Hannah M. Sherman, Secretary

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for September 15, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. October 4, 1994 at 7:15

The September meeting fo11owed tradition in that we were again unable to get into the Emerson Center. This time Brian Yates had a key but it did not work. We met at the Methodist Church in Upper Falls, thanks to Ken Newcomb. Present were: Vaunita Schnell, Brian Yates, Jim Purdy, Nina Koch, Don Cusack, Rob McArthur, Ken Newcomb and Hannah Sherman.

A discussion on whether to meet on Tuesdays or Thursdays resulted in a decision to meet on Tuesdays (the first one in each month) but change the time to 7:15. Vaunita says she did tell Carol Stapleton that we wanted to use the Emerson Center on Sept.15 but this did not bring a good result for us. Don Cusack will write to Ms. Stapleton to reserve the room for us for each first Tuesday through next June.

We want to have a table at the HARVEST FAIR on Oct.16,from 12 noon to 5 P.M. Vaunita asks for volunteers to sit at the table for one hour each. Phone her if you are interested.

On Oct.23 we will be at the Methodist Church Fair in Upper Falls. This event runs from 10 A.M.--3 P.M. Again we ask for volunteers to man the table. IF the weather is bad the fair will be held in the church basement.

FALL CLEAN-UP. After much discussion we tentatively decide on NOV.6 at 1 P.M. Bring a picnic lunch. Rob may repeat his lecture "Terror in the Trees" stressing the threat of the Hemlock woolly adelgid. Brian Yates brought to this meeting a most informative article about the adelgid and how to cope with it, if possible, thus inspiring us to have Rob lecture at the Clean-Up Day. Ken Newcomb also suggests a soft-ball game between a Friends' team and a team of Upper Falls boys. Volunteers, where are you?

Having been told by the USDA that Dr. Mark McClure of the Connecticut Agricultural Station has done most of the work on the hemlock woolly adelgid in the East, Brian Yates suggests we ask Dr. McClure to speak to us on this subject at a future meeting. Rob McArthur talked about his plan to landscape the bank between Hamilton Place and the Gorge property. He wants to erect a guard rail. Can the MDC do it or must they hire outside help?

Rob also says he is looking for a design for the Friends' Bridge. No materials are available just now so there will probably be no work there this fall.

The MWRA still has not completed the repairs to the Newton side of Echo Bridge. The stairs from the street to the bridge have been repaired but nothing has been done on the Echo Platform or the approach to it.

Vaunita suggests a subcommittee to work on the Friends' Bridge project. Nobody volunteers. Vaunita will ask members who do not attend the monthly meetings if they would help in this. Should we send postcards to announce meetings or use the minutes as we have been doing? Brian Yates says postcards are good for special meetings and public events. He also suggests posting notices of meetings on the bulletin board at Hamilton Place.

ELECTION of officers will he discussed at our Oct. meeting.

Ken Newcomb read aloud to us the introduction to his "Walking Tour of Hemlock Gorge". The article needs a final editing and then we must copyright it. This will be discussed at the next meeting.

This Sept. meeting adjourned at 8:42 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,

Hannah M. Sherman, Secretary

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for October 4, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. November 1, 1994 at 7:15

This meeting was held at the Emerson Center as planned. Present were: Vaunita Schnell, Rob McArthur, Ken Newcomb, Don Cusack, Tony Penna, and Hannah Sherman. Brian Yates was there long enough to leave with us more copies of his document about the woolly adelgid which he distributed at the Sept. meeting.

Rob McArthur read us an article about the MDC's Upper Charles River Development. They plan new parks, clean-ups of riverside corridor parks for a 5-mile stretch. Does this include the Gorge? Rob intends to find out. Could/Would/Should the Friends have an input in this? Maybe the MDC could help with the Friends' Bridge under the terms of this project.

Rob says the Friends should keep watch of the perimeters of the Gorge property and tell the authorities if people infringe. (For example: he thinks a house on the Needham side of the property is actually built too close to our land.)

A work order does exist, Rob says, to replace the security lights at the Stone Building. When will this be done?

Vaunita announces that we will make an appearance at the HARVEST FAIR IN Newton Centre OCT.16 from 12-5 P.M. So far she has scheduled Brian Yates, Jim Purdy and herself to take 1-hour stints at the table selling T-shirts, buttons, dispensing info about the Gorge. The 2 and 3 P.M. slots are still open VOLUNTEERS? Of course, by the time you get this it will all be over. Call Vaunita if you are interested.


FALL CLEAN-UP DAY is NOV. 6 AT 1 P.M. The schedule is -- clean, eat, walk through the property. Rob will bring work gloves and trash bags. Vaunita says we should ask local merchants to contribute food and drink. She will get doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts. Rob says the Gorge is actually fairly clean except for the Rte. 9 and Eliot St. edges where people seem to throw trash from their cars.


Rob suggests we display the presentation boards of the restoration project at the Wellesley Town Hall on town meeting nights. When do these occur?

John Mordes (represented by Tony Penna) asks how we collect dues for 1995. Do we send a dues reminder? John feels that people who have paid before should be told how the money is spent. For the 2nd time we discussed having our own P.O. Box instead of sending all mail to Elm Bank or Jo-Anne Carr. Don Cusack will investigate having a box at Needham Heights. Apparently, an Upper Falls box is still unavailable and the membership last year turned down a suggestion that we use a Newton Highlands box.

Should we leave CANEPI (the Cooperating Association for New England Parks, Inc.)? Rob says if we do, we can still ask for their help for special projects.

From here on the meeting became livelier as Rob refused MDC approval of Ken Newcomb's "Walking Tour of the Gorge" on the basis of a disagreement over the Olmsted involvement (if any) in the Gorge.

This meeting adjourned at 9:12 without having addressed the matter of election of officers - which was announced in Sept. as being on the docket for tonight.

Respectfully Submitted,

Hannah M. Sherman, Secretary

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for November 1, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. December 6, 1994 at 7:15

Present: John Mordes, Brian Yates, Vaunita Schnell, Nina Koch, Ken Newcomb, Grant Balkema, Peter Kestner, Don Cusack, and Rob McArthur

  1. Harvest Fair: Vaunita Schnell thanked Brian Yates, Nina Koch, and Jim Purdy for all their help at the Harvest Fair. They sold a number of the Hemlock Gorge pins created by Ken Newcomb along with maps.
  2. Election of Officers: The following folks were nominated for office for the next year: President: Cindy Edwards, Vice President: Nina Koch, Secretary: Hanna Sherman, Treasurer: Jim Purdy.
    If anyone nominated would prefer not to serve, please attend next meeting to let us know. A special thanks to Vaunita Schnell who has served as President for the past two plus years and Don Cusack who has served as V.P. for the same. Hanna Sherman, who has done such a great job as Secretary was re-nominated because we felt we could not live without her (and because she was unable to attend last meeting to decline). Hanna, please say yes! If anyone else would like to be nominated for an office please let us know at the December meeting.
  3. The Fall Clean-up of the Gorge was discussed and then held on Sunday, November 6, 1994. There was 15 to 18 people in attendance to pitch in and we spruced the place up for winter. Vaunita secured a ton of donuts and refreshment for all.
  4. There has been no progress on securing materials or design for a "Friend's Bridge" to replace the long absent rustic bridge once located near the "Devil's Den". If anyone' would like to pursue this project, please let us know and a short-term committee can be formed to work on planning. A project of this sort. is what many of us joined the Friends for and so lets pitch in and see if we can't get it going for 1995.
  5. The proposed parking area slated for the corner of Ellis Street has been stalled by Newton's Finance Committee which does not see it as a priority. Rumor has it that they believe it is proposed to serve the individual who presently parks a number of cars there for long periods. It had been approved by the Public Facilities Committee at $21,000. This lot could be a great asset for Hemlock Gorge Reservation, serving the northern end of the park as well as the future of the Ellis Stone Building. Several of the Friends were going to work on convincing the Finance Committee of the proposed use of this lot and see if we can't get it moving.
  6. There was discussion of getting Lida Harkins and other area reps and senators out to the Gorge.
  7. There was discussion about a Citizens Group on the Charles River Walkway and their meetings. How will they connect through the Gorge; how about Quinobequin Road; and the area south or upstream of the Gorge. Another future meeting will be held to discuss water chestnut eradication in the Charles up near Auburndale and the "Lakes District". Watch this space and hear about it at future FHG meetings or call the Charles River Watershed Association at 527-2799 to see if they have further information.
  8. The Friends of Hemlock Gorge would like to extend their sympathies to the family of Phyllis Dana, a long time member of the Friends. Vaunita sent a letter on behalf of the Friends to Phyllis Dana's husband. Phyllis had attended several of Rob McArthur's programs at the Gorge at a time when staffing was better and he could offer a wide range of interpretive programs in the park and she learned about the Friends from those walks and has been a supporting member since that time. Rob will try to schedule the program entitled "The Charles and Charles" in the late spring as a way of honoring her and repeating the opportunity for others to come and learn to appreciate the Gorge first hand.
  9. Membership: 100 people signed up at Harvest Fair expressing interest in the Friends. Need to send out membership renewals and welcome letter to the other new folks. We'd like to get onto a calendar year schedule. As the Friends grow so can the commitment they show to the park and the Charles in general and the variety of opportunities to serve can grow.
  10. The Ellis Stone Building received new security lighting recently. Hopefully it will survive for awhile this time.
  11. Jo-Anne Carr from CANEPI should attend next meeting to discuss setting the Friends free. CANEPI has served our organization well for much longer than originally agreed upon and its time for the Friends to venture out on their own. We could never have gotten the FHG going without CANEPI, but the range of services which they can offer us now is limited. We have piggy-backed on their non-profit status. We do not necessarily need to establish our own non-profit status if we can still set up future agreements with CANEPI or even the Newton Conservators to hold money from fund raising or special donations that exceed $1000.00. So far we have never attained that amount of money in our. account. We hope to discuss all this at our next meeting.
  12. We're still working on getting our own P.G. Box, probably in Needham Heights.
  13. Rob McArthur, the MDC Park Supervisor (Our Ranger) for Hemlock Gorge would like to express his thanks to the Friends for their continued interest in the Gorge. Keep it up! We have a ways to go and so much more we can do and help out with, but since 1989 when the staffing for Elm Bank and Hemlock Gorge Reservations went from four to one and 1990 with the addition of Village Falls Park to his area of responsibility, the assistance of the Friends has grown and helped out. Rob apologizes if his schedule does not allow him to offer the number of programs that we enjoyed through 1988 and 89, or even to attend every meeting, but Vaunita has been tireless in her efforts as President to work on various projects through the Friends and this has helped tremendously. To Vaunita and all the Friends a big thank you.

Respectfully Submitted,

Grant Balkema, Secretary pro tem.

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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for December 6, 1994

Next Meeting: Emerson Community Center, Tues. January 3, 1995 at 7:15

Present: Brian Yates, Vaunita Schnell, Ken Newcomb, Grant Balkema, Don Cusack, Rob McArthur, John Mordes, Nina Koch, Cindy Edwards, Adolf Passarini

The first business was to set the dates of the next few meetings in 1995 as 1/3, 2/7, 3/7, 4/4, and 5/2.

We have a new address! P.O. Box 346, Needham Heights, MA 02194-0003.

Announcement: Jim Purdy will serve on the Charles River Pathway Committee. This general issue was discussed by the members present.

Old Business

New Business

Much adulation and praise for Vaunita's tenure as President of the Friends for the past few years. Vaunita thanks Don Cusack, Hannah, and John. New officers were elected:

Respectfully Submitted,

Brian Yates, Secretary pro tem.

Back to regular minutes (these were handwritten out of necessity) next year!

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