Open Letter to our Membership, 2007
is a portion of letter sent via email to the FORB membership on March 18,
2007. The letter was intended a note of transition by out-going President
Keith Beason and to inform the membership of activities not previously recorded
on this website.
This is a letter to those interested in the Friends of Resaca Battlefield, Inc. If you are receiving this then you either know me personally or have emailed our website or joined our organization and given us your email address over the course of the past several years. If you do not wish to receive any future correspondence from the Friends of Resaca please let me know in reply. I will remove you from the list. Conversely, if you wish others to read this letter, please feel free to forward it. Anyone reading these words is freely asked to visit our website at www.resacabattlefield.org and find ways of supporting this organization’s efforts through the payment of annual dues.
I have served as president of this organization since the year 2000. At my request the board recently appointed a new president. Perhaps it is customary for me to have a few out-going comments. First of all, I want to wish the best possible success to Ken Padgett, who is now leading this organization. In the history of the Friends of Resaca Battlefield, Inc. no one has worked harder than Ken.
Ken was in the thick of our battles to secure the land of the future state battlefield park. It was he that brought the potential importance of the Fort Wayne Historic Site to my attention 3-4 years ago. His years of experience as vice-president of FORB, Inc. give him all the knowledge he needs to effectively grow this organization.
Before I joined the FORB, the idea for a state battlefield park was fresh and the possibility of a 1200 acre state battlefield park and recreation area was near. Sadly, that didn’t happen and our organization came into decline literally from the morale shattering experience of the loss. But, several members remained active and I joined them and soon became president of FORB. Our focus, rightly was on stabilizing the situation, and thanks in no small part to the application of effective grass roots pressure directly on the governor’s office by FORB 500+ acres were saved.
That is a significant accomplishment that took place during my time as president but certainly was due to efforts initiated by Jule Medders during his term as first president of FORB. I created the organization’s website. It averages about 150 unique visitors per day literally from all over the world. That’s a lot of information about the battle, battlefield, and FORB going out every day. It has generated and continues to generate emails on a weekly basis between myself as webmaster for the organization and “virtual” visitors to the battlefield.
I also enhanced our driving tour brochure which is given out at no cost by the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce. This has also been distributed during my term to groups I have spoken to as well as to re-enactors and to a constant flow of people requesting information through our web site. It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of people have benefited from this simple guide when visiting the battlefield since the current guide was completed in 2002.
Several years ago County Commissioner (now Chairman) Alvin Long approached me with the information that money was available in the form of Green Space funding that the county was going to lose if it did not find a suitable project. I knew that what is now called the Fort Wayne Historic Site was unpreserved and worthy of such funding. So, I connected Alvin with Ken (who had expressed interest in the project to me).
Ken did a great job with this, making the space accessible for the 2004 Ed Bearss tour. I continued to work with County Administrator Randy Dowling over a long period of time, even when funding was not available to do anything with the property. I even spearheaded efforts for funding but discovered that the application for such monies is limited without more formal planning already in place.
In 2006 our efforts with the county finally paid off when enough funding was budgeted for a master plan to be created for the site by a reputable Atlanta-based environmental planning firm. Ken, Jule Medders, Doug Marvel, and myself have been working with this firm to ensure that the master plan is what we want for the site. The final plans are due in May of this year.
The process to secure funding for the development of the state battlefield park has been my primary objective since the state acquisition. I have maintained cordial relations with both the former State Department of Natural Resources chief Lonice Barrett and, currently, with chief Noel Holcomb. Noel lives in Gordon County and his appointment to succeed Lonice Barrett was fortuitous for the Resaca battlefield. Ken, Jule, and I met with Noel and all his lieutenants including the state’s chief financial officer in April 2005. It was from that meeting that the present state authorized funding for $5 million has derived.
The biggest controversy during my term as president was, of course, the TVA power line right of way. We were able to generate some good press on this matter and it was covered extensively by the Atlanta and Chattanooga media. The publicity helped clarify the importance of the area to TVA. Jule actually met with TVA officials and gave them a tour that helped guide their thinking to alternate routes.
Maintaining good relations with state officials, with key members of the media, keeping the website up and running, obtaining and interpreting Fort Wayne and keeping the battlefield in the mind of all concerned were the things I tried to accomplish the most.
As my career and family demanded more time from me, my ability to lead the organization diminished. So, last July 2006, the board met and agreed to a reorganization process that has culminated with Ken serving now as president, John Guider as vice-president, Glenda Allen as secretary again, and Doug Marvel continues as treasurer.
A special note about Doug. He has served us steadily as treasurer for 9 years. Outstanding service.
Concentrating on growing our membership was never a major focus for me. People got more active when there was controversy. They were less active when things were relatively quiet. Our paid membership, while concentrated in Gordon County, comes from all over the country. I am delighted to report that we have a significant number of dues paying members from northern states, particularly in the mid-western states.
Perhaps the time has come to get more serious with our membership drives. But, as I said, that will fall to the work of others; it is not a priority for me personally. I will continue to serve as an active board member.
It has been my pleasure to work with such dedicated people on these various projects. While it seems that things have progressed slowly over the past 6-7 years, I think upon retrospect a lot of important and fundamental work has been accomplished during my term. And certainly it has been a team effort.
So, thank you to everyone for contributing either through the payment of dues or actually volunteering to work on some of these projects. Ultimately, leadership means nothing without those interested in being part of the team.
This organization remains very solid in the eyes of the historic preservation community and with good reason. We can muster substantial support for initiatives when the need arises and that has earned us respect in many areas and even something slightly feared by people in other areas. Which is as it should be. If we are going to play the game of preserving land that is threatened by interests contrary to our own…then there are times when we must get our hands dirty.
My best wishes to everyone in their respective efforts on behalf of FORB and particularly to our dues paying members without which the efforts of the rest of us would be impossible.