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Minutes of the Annual Meeting of 4/10/24

The Garden Club of Windham

Minutes of Annual Meeting 4/10/2024

Windham Senior Center or virtual


Call to order – 6:43 pm, Barbara Wright, co-chairman presiding


In Attendance – Jean deSmet, Barbara Gibson, Kathleen Hardisty, Rudy Karl, Faith Kenton, Kathleen Mangiafico, Pat Miller, Sue Nosal, Jay Osborne, Daniel Phipps, Ursula Roskoski, David Stoloff, Debbie Stoloff, Carole Williamson, Barbara Wright, Pam Wright.


Minutes of the Board meeting held on 3/14/2024 were unanimously approved. They had been posted on-line previously for members to access and read.   


Financial Report – Garden Club assets as of 4/10/2024 submitted by Budget and Finance Chair Jennifer Duchesne, read by Barbara Wright:

          Garden Club Checking -     $9,255.56

          Garden Club Savings -        $8,687.02

          Friends of the GOB checking -      $24,042.76

          Friends’ CD:                      $15,000.00

          Paypal:                             $121.23

Friends’ CD was purchased at the end of March with funds from the GOB checking account.  This was done per decision of the board at the March board meeting.  Funds from the CD will be available again in June.  Jean suggested that the Financial Report at the Annual Meeting should reflect the whole previous year from Apr 2023 to Apr 2024 so as not to be confusing. Barbara stated that the full previous year shows up on the Proposed Budget which is on a separate handout which Barbara discussed, pointing out and discussing the proposed amounts for various items separately.


Proposed Slate of officers for 2024

          Co-Presidents: Barbara Wright and Jay Osborne

          Secretary: Ursula Roskoski

          Treasurer: Patty Spruance

          Budget and Finance: Jennifer Duchesne

          Membership Committee: Jay Osborne

          Public Spaces Committee: Dan Phipps

          Wildlife Habitat: Pam Wright and Jean deSmet

          Garden on the Bridge Committee:  Jay Osborne

          High Street Hillside Committee: Faith Kenton

          Ad hoc Holiday Lights Committee: Carole Williamson and Dan Phipps

          Board Members at large: Debbie Stoloff

After lengthy discussion about the handling of conflicts within the club, Barbara summed up the discussion by saying that we can go forward with good will, clarity, avoiding ambiguity, and being open about our plans, our actions, and what we want to do.  There was a friendly motion to restore the High Street Hillside Committee with Faith Kenton as chair to the slate.  The motion passed with 12 in favor, 2 opposed and 2 abstaining.  David Stoloff then moved to approve the slate of officers as presented, Debbie Stoloff seconded the motion; vote was taken with 14 in favor and 2 opposed. 


Committee Reports on Plans and Goals

Membership – Jay Osborne reported, stating the basically the committee’s goal continues to be to grow membership and to make the club as inclusive as possible.  He is still working on a membership booklet; he wants to include a history of each of the gardens.  Barbara thanked Debbie who sent out reminders to all of the members who have not yet paid membership dues.  It was confirmed after being questioned by Pam that dues can be paid through Pay Pal and paid for multiple years.  Faith reminded the group that there had been booklets in the past that provided annual reports of club activities.  They also included ads from local businesses and she suggested we revive that.


Wildlife Habitat/Pollinator Pathway - Pam Wright reported on 2023 activities which include the City of Willimantic receiving its twelfth year National Wildlife Federation certification, as a nationally recognized Community Wildlife Habitat; maintaining a Wildlife Facebook page and joining the NWF perennial Garden Project; monitoring and working to improve the Willimantic River Trail ecosystem; working with student volunteers to continue the mission of outreach and education concerning sustainable gardening; tabling at the annual Veggiestock fair; leading nature walks and tours and undertaking speaking engagements at UCONN.  One significant outreach activity was that Jean worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) at UCONN, acting as a mentor/partner with Jilliana H., a local high school student who completed a major planting project along the Willimantic River Trail.  Jilliana was recognized for her project at a conference at the Science Center of students from all over that state who had done environmental projects.  Three grants for college were given out and Jilliana received one of them.  The committee also works to expand Garden Club knowledge by attending conferences, and remains involved politically in decisions that affect our local habitat.  Plans for 2024 are to continue this work. 


Public Spaces – Dan Phipps reported that the board met to discuss and identify which gardens in town they want to currently name as Garden Club sponsored gardens.  Doing so ensures that we  allocate resources to the gardens that we actually sponsor.  The current agreed-upon gardens are shown on a map on the website and are up to date except for Memorial Park and Heritage Park.  We have also identified stewards for each of the gardens.  Dan stated that he is looking to establish new relationships to recruit volunteers and he is planning to have some events at the various gardens this year, including, on May 18, a Main Street walking tour from 2:00 to 4:00 from Bridge Street to the Garden on the Bridge and the plant sale along its route at the Schilberg Butterfly Garden from 10:00 until 4:00.


Friends of Garden on the Bridge – Jay Osborne reported that the gardening year started when the 125 daffodil bulbs planted last fall began to bloom.  Work parties began last April with LyAnn Graff from The Last Green Valley, 5 student volunteers and a host of GC members. They cleaned, pruned, weeded.  There is an open invitation to these on-going every-other-Wednesday work parties.  The committee tried several weed suppression methods:  elbow grease, gardener’s vinegar, and witch hazel mulch.  Projects, completed and ongoing, include:  electric sockets at the Amp; charging ports for the new seating areas; lights on the pump house wall; collaborating with the town engineer’s grant writer as part of a DEEP grant; replacing part of the hillside sidewalk with pavers; replacing 4 light poles that line the side walk; installing dog stations.


High Street Hillside – Faith Kenton reported that the garden is doing well, beginning to flower for the season.  One important matter that we need to get help with is protocol and the procedure and the pathway forward to the hiring of a professional garden tender for the summer season. There will be a weed identification session on Thursday of next week at 9:00 a.m.  Kathy Mangiafico stated that at one time a garden tender was hired for the GOB and the town stipulated that they had to have insurance. Jay stated that the process for hiring is very simple:  the vendor would need to submit a proposal, they would need to be currently insured, and they would have to be willing to submit an invoice in order to get paid.  There was some discussion on this last issue of submitting invoices as there have been, in the past, some situations where this was not feasible.


Holiday Lights ad hoc Committee – Carole Williamson reported that the committee has been working cutting the bottles for the display.  Her big concern at this time is power.  She was told there is 10 amps available on the bridge and the display will need more than that. There is also the issue of money – how to get it. They will need some to purchase extension cords, splitters, etc.  Kathleen suggested that there is a group which has been doing fund-raising for other lighting on Main Street and they may be willing to help out.  In response to a question about solar lighting, Carole responded that that it is noted for being unreliable.


UCONN NRCA EPA Grant – Ursula Roskoski reported that the Garden Club has been asked to be an educational partner in a grant project sponsored by the UCONN Natural Resources Conservation Academy and funded by the EPA.  Each of three school districts, Hartford, Bloomfield and Windham, and their partner organizations will receive $5000 to carry out local environmental projects related to excess water management.  The possible projects include a bio-swale, a rain garden or a green roof.  The project will begin in the autumn of 2024 with the teaching of a water management curriculum and culminate in the spring of 2025 with the building of a green infrastructure installation.


Action Item:  Policy Guidelines 4/2/24

Barbara briefly referred to each of the topics in the draft policy.  Kathy Mangiafico stated that, as a past president of the club, she sees that a policy document is a very helpful tool which can be added to and modified as the club grows and changes.  Carole Williamson made a motion to approve the policy as currently drafted, Dan Phipps seconded the motion, a vote was taken with 14 in favor, 1 opposed and 1 abstaining.


Points of interest -

Dan Phipps made a suggestion that the GC set up a table at one of the Third Thursday’s over the summer.  Barbara mentioned the upcoming plant sale on May 18, and the pruning workshop by Carole at the Julia Burgos garden on Apr 14, but suggested that we table the rest of the agenda, which included upcoming events and a discussion on volunteering.


Next Meeting – TBD


Adjourned – 8:19 pm


Respectfully submitted by Ursula Roskoski

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