President — Gary Helms, 1092 Vanderbilt Rd., Texarkana, AR 71854; 870-772-3834; Arkansastrappers@aol.com
Vice President — Aaron Hitchcock, 9331 Sister Ln., Mulberry, AR 72947; 479-997-8401
Secretary/Treasurer — Rocky Weeks, P.O. Box 987, Cabot, AR 72023; 501-259-3610;
NTA Director — Mike Fischer, 13823 Masoner Rd., Lonsdale, AR 72087; 501-939-2325
Editor — Mark Alexander, P.O. Box 1681, Greenwood, AR 72936; 479-310-0692; email@example.com
• Individual membership including subscription to Trapper & Predator Caller — $22
• Family membership with subscription — $27
Complete membership application on first page of association section and send dues to:
P.O. Box 987
Cabot, AR 72023
ATA members should have received a mailing last month which included information on the convention and trappers workshop. Included in the mailing was the agenda for the General Membership Meeting to be held at the convention Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 1pm. This meeting will determine the course of the ATA for the next 2 years. Elections will be held for President, Vice-President, Secretary/Treasurer and Editor.
Also on the agenda is the District Organization Plan Re-affirmation vote. After debate about the small number of ATA members present for the 2011 General Membership meeting and the closeness of the votes taken for the District Organization Plan, the Board of Directors decided that the vote should be retaken and verified by paper ballots at this years General Membership meeting.
In a nutshell, the District Organization Plan removes the directors at large and chapter presidents from the ATA Board of Directors, and replaces them with one representative, chosen by outgoing president Gary Helms, for each of 9 areas of the state. There are arguments that districts will improve the visiblity of the ATA and encourage new memberships by moving the convention and workshop around the state. On the other hand, there are arguments that districts (vs chapters) will make the ATA less accessible given the rural nature and large areas that districts cover.
In last months President’s Report, Gary Helms wrote of his support of districts. This month I received a letter from Don Wilcox, a long-time member and past president, discussing his opposition to districts. In the interest of fairness, Mr. Wilcox’s letter is below:
Rebuttal to President’s Report
As a past president, NTA Director, and current Director-at-Large, and a member for over 36 years, no one cares more for the Arkansas Trappers’ Association than I do. I know this letter will make me a villain in the eyes of some, but if I didn’t care about the association I would just sit back and remain silent.
I have to take exception to the President’s comment that we “will have a ‘do-over, if you will’ because the vote was so close.” The reason for the revote was actually because virtually all of the bylaws of our association were violated. The measure was ramrodded through against the wishes of many of our members.
At the 2010 Spring Board Meeting and Fall Convention, we voted to EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITY of going to districts. We appointed a committee to research the subject. The committee was then to report the pros and cons to the directors and general membership at the next convention. However, at the 2011 Convention, we were told by the president that we had already voted to go to districts. Of course, no minutes could be presented of the vote from the last convention. Several of our diehard members left in disgust, vowing never to return.
As important as this vote is to the life of the association, many things were overlooked during the process of ramrodding this proposal through. 1) The new proposal and its rules and regulations were to be posted the morning of the convention for all to read so that we could make an informed decision. This was not done. 2) There was no verification of membership of the people voting. 3) There was no paper ballot. 4) The bylaws must be changed and voted on before a proposal of this kind can be passed.
The main reason given for going to districts was because there were people in our state that didn’t know there was a Trappers’ Association. The example of the young couple from Columbia, MO at the NTA Convention at Columbia who didn’t know they had a state trappers’ association until they read about it in the newspaper that week (even though they have districts in that state) doesn’t make sense. They had had at least one previous NTA Convention and one Fur Takers Convention in their town already. It sounds to me like they need to go with chapters. If districts are so great, why didn’t they know about it?
As ATA President several years ago, I called the Pennsylvania Trappers’ Association President because they had one of the largest associations in the nation to see what they were doing to get so many members. He asked how many trappers we had in the state and how many members we had in our association. When I told him, he said that we were actually doing better than they were by percentage. (By the way, membership is almost directly proportional to the price of fur. The higher the fur prices, the more members you have).
Our president also wrote that no one had given him a reason for not going to districts. If I remember correctly, I spoke before the entire assembly, giving the reasons, among which are stated above, and will be further stated later in this letter. Others also spoke, giving reasons from the audience.
Chapters have been the lifeblood of the Arkansas Trappers’ Association for over 35 years. The proposal as it stands now removes chapter directors from the board. We will only have district directors who may live as far away as 100 miles from any chapter. “What do we have to lose by going districts?” MEMBERS is what we will lose, and once they’re lost, it is difficult to get them back. There is not one thing that can be done by districts that can’t be done by chapters. Our chapter has had several one-day workshops, fair booths, wildlife seminars, school visits, and displays at malls. If a chapter wants an organizer, go for it.
What does a chapter offer in addition to the above? FELLOWSHIP is offered by chapters every month with other trappers. Sometimes it may just be a bull session, sometimes it may be trapping demos, sometimes it may be a pot luck dinner, but whatever it is everyone enjoys it, yet you want to take the voice away from our chapters.
Part of the proposal is to have the convention and workshop to different parts of the state each year. For years we had conventions in different locations, then we moved to Petit Jean State Park. I cannot think of a location more central, that has so much to offer for the whole family than Petit Jean. I believe Wallace Funderburk found Camp Clear Fork for our workshop. It has been perfect. It’s isolated but right off the highway, with excellent facilities. The attendees really enjoy it. Why change a good thing?
Another thing the president stated was that he had trapped since 1983. If making membership statewide is so important, perhaps he should form a chapter in Texarkana. He already knows about the state association; how did he find out about it without districts? He wants to take the voice away from the chapters. He cast the deciding vote to not allow the chapters to have a director on the board.
Some seem upset because so many of the directors are from Western Arkansas. If you look at the history of the association, Western Arkansas was the birthplace of the Arkansas Trappers’ Association. That part of Arkansas has been in operation longer than any other. Every area has the opportunity to start a chapter, and automatically choose a member of the board for representation. The original purpose of ‘directors-at-large’ was to represent members who didn’t belong to a chapter.
Your vote on the issue of chapters vs. districts, and our current system of operation will be the most important vote you may ever cast for our association.
I state again, there is nothing that districts can do that cannot be done by chapters.
As you can see from Mr. Wilcox’s letter, this is a very important vote. Members are encouraged to attend and vote at the General Membership meeting at Petit Jean State Park (south of Morrilton, AR) on September 8, 2012 at 1pm in the recreation hall behind the park visitors center. Morning convention activities will be demo’s, vendor and tailgater booths. At noon there will be a potluck lunch and the membership meeting starts at 1pm. Camping facilities are available in the state park. For more information visit http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com or call the park at 501-727-5441.
For information on ATA Trappers Workshop to be held at Camp Clearfork October 26-28th, contact workshop organizer Aaron Hitchcock at 479-997-5361. A workshop registration form was in last months issue, in last months mailing, will be in next months issue and is also available on the ATA website at http://arkansastrappers.org.
If you did not receive last months mailing, contact Secretary/Treasurer Rocky Weeks to make sure that your address is correct.
See ya at the convention! — Mark Alexander