From the President
H. C. "Bud" Gehnrich
Huntington, New York
Here it is mid-December and we have not really had a frost worth the name. 'Blue Peter', 'Golden Star' and of course 'Cunningham's White' have all been in bloom and many other plants have shown some color even if they are not opening.
Since my last column, we attended the very successful Western Regional Meeting in Florence, Oregon. This meeting was run by the Siuslaw Chapter with assistance from the District Director Mike Stewart. The success of the meeting shows what a small but dedicated group can do when they really go to work. The good show they ran should encourage other small chapters to volunteer to run a regional meeting. Don't leave all the glory to the big guys. Thanks to Siuslaw.
The Board of Directors had a productive meeting and moved ahead on several issues. Officers were elected who will take office at the end of the Annual Meeting in Bellevue in the spring of 1999. Lynn Watts moves up from Western VP to President and Mike Stewart joins the officers as Western VP. Ed Reiley continues as Eastern VP, Jean Beaudry as Secretary and Tim Walsh as Treasurer.
One of the ongoing issues has been the question of dues at the local level. Under the policies of the Society, chapters are not permitted to collect dues beyond the $6 they receive as their share of the $28 dues collected from each member. Some chapters do, and also charge associates more than $6. Somehow we must reconcile the differences.
There is also the question of chapters having "local members" who are not members of the ARS. This is similarly prohibited except that chapters may have "friends" who belong to the chapter but with the intent that they will develop an interest that will lead them to become members of the ARS.
It is important that these arrangements be reviewed particularly with new people joining through the internet where we cannot define different rules for different chapters. The By Laws and Policies Committee was asked to review these various arrangements and make recommendations to the Board at the spring meeting.
Society membership increased by about 70, and while this might not seem very impressive, at least the decline we have been suffering the past few years appears to have been reversed. A good deal of the reversal is due to Dee Daneri's campaign to increase membership, and some is due to the influence of the ARS website. As Dee said to me a couple of months ago, the site is our window on the world and it introduces people to our Society that would not find us in any other way.
Visit the site, www.rhododendron.org and see what is going on. The new plant database is on the site and you can sign up as a steward and enter information about the plant of your choice, species or hybrid. You can also access the R and A news that Betty and Herb Spady work hard to put together, and the site of the Alderman Library. I hesitate to say too much about all these sites because in time between my writing this column and your receiving your Journal, new things are bound to show up on all of them. Things are moving very fast on the internet and the ARS is moving along with it.
By the way, I see that many of our members have not entered their e-mail address in the directory that is on the site. Entering your address permits your friends to contact you easily and also means that you will receive messages from time to time of important happenings in your Society.
Now is the quiet time of the year - keep those seedlings growing, peruse the catalogs and plan the additions to your garden in the spring. I hope you had a good Holiday Season and wish you all a Happy New Year in which all your seed will grow, all your cuttings will root and all your plants will bloom as never before.
See you in Bellevue in April!