Archive for Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Closed meeting leaves Ag Hall with more decisions to be made

November 10, 2009

What to do to save the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame and why its future has become so uncertain has members of the center's governing body in disagreement and, in some cases, on complete opposite sides of the proverbial fence.

As to how the center will be saved, the board of governors illuminated some ideas during a work session Tuesday night attended by more than half those on the board. Still on the table is a proposal from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan. Included in the proposal is a provision that the Unified Government would take over the Hall of Fame and the 160 acres it sits on and would run operations for a minimum of three years.

The Hall of Fame governing body is still waiting on a proposal from the Wyandotte County Fair Board. On Tuesday, the Hall of Fame board granted the Fair Board an extension until mid-December. The Fair Board originally had until Nov. 16 to submit something, but had requested more time.

During the meeting, which board of governors chairperson Bob Carlson closed to the public, members of the board reportedly threw a couple of other Ag Hall-saving ideas into the pot. Board member and former Hall of Fame director Cathi Hahner said a suggestion was raised to release all staff members, including chief executive officer Tim Daugherty, from their positions effective Dec. 1 when the Ag Hall of Fame is generally closed for the winter season. This would save money until a final decision has been made regarding the site’s future, she said.

“Unfortunately, we are really in a financial crisis,” said Hahner, who also noted just paying the staff costs more than $20,000 per month.

Another suggestion, raised by board of governors member Amy O’Rourke, called for a complete overhaul of the 11 members currently sitting on the board of directors. The board is made up of members from the board of governors who are elected to run the daily operations of the Hall of Fame.

“I asked the current executive board of directors to resign,” O’Rourke said after the meeting. “Half of the current directors have been on the board for approximately 25 years, and I felt it was time for a change in leadership and that’s detrimental to the future of the Agricultural Hall of Fame.”

Carlson, who also sits on the board of directors, said he would relay this suggestion to the other members of the directorial board for consideration. Hahner said she expected a final decision in regards to the proposals and whether the staff would be released over the winter months at the next board of governors meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

More on this story can be found in Thursday’s Chieftain and Sentinel.

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