Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ag Hall of Fame’s entire board of directors resigns

November 19, 2009

Amy O'Rourke had no idea her suggestion for the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame board of directors would be embraced so quickly and unanimously.

Last week during a Tuesday night work session of the center's board of governors, O’Rourke, a new member on the governing board, asked the center's entire board of directors to step down.

Two days later, O'Rourke's suggestion bore fruit. Governing board members were notified Nov. 12 that all members of the board of directors, most of whom have served on the board for more than 25 years, had resigned.

The board of directors is composed of elected members from the board of governors and handles the daily operations of the Ag Hall of Fame.

O’Rourke said she made the request because the Ag Hall of Fame, which is struggling financially, was in need of fresh blood and new leadership.

“I just think that it was certain members of the board that I thought needed to be relieved of their positions in order (for the Ag Hall of Fame) to start anew,” O’Rourke said. “I just thought it was necessary to go forward, to build a new infrastructure.”

Cathi Hahner, a former Ag Hall of Fame director and current member of the board of governors, said she thought it was unfortunate that events had led up to this point, but the resignations were a necessary step in saving the hall. She said four members of the board of directors had opted to stay on as members of the governing board, and the hope was that other former directors would continue lending a hand in the future, as well.

“Hopefully some of them will come back and be a friend and be involved, but this is what we kind of needed to do to start anew and build the whole thing back up,” Hahner said. “We appreciate their years of service.”

The board of governors will meet Monday, Nov. 23, to elect a new board of directors that will serve on a temporary basis, until the next annual meeting in the Spring of 2010. Hahner said she hoped to see 10 members elected that evening to serve in the interim.

Curt Blades, one of those who resigned, wouldn’t comment specifically as to why the board took the action but said simply, “We were asked by some folks to resign, and we did.”

He did, however, offer his well wishes to the next elected directorial board, but still expressed some discontent about the state of affairs leading up to the resignations.

“It is a terrible shame that misinformation, local politics and personal interests have stood in the way of the organization living up to its full potential as (a) national showcase for agriculture,” Blades said in a statement via e-mail. “I wish the new board the best in navigating its way through the next few months of difficult decisions.”

When asked to elaborate on the part of his statement regarding “misinformation, local politics and personal interests,” Blades would only say in an e-mail, “You simply need to look at the list of new governors (last 60 days) to learn the basis of my statement and source of my concern.”

Those who have signed up for the governing board during the last 60 days include O’Rourke, Hahner, her husband Dave Hahner, Lyn Spring, Steve Tuttle and former Kansas City, Kan., mayor Joe Steineger.

O’Rourke, who has been on the board of governors since October of this year, said she was looking forward to what this step could mean for the Ag Hall of Fame’s future.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I think that it’s exciting to start new, start fresh, bring some new ideas to the table. And I think there’s endless potential.”

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