Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

August 8, 2012

The meeting was called to order by President Jim Drew after a number of members enjoyed dining al fresco.

Caroline Gelb, Louise Meyer, Geoff Holdridge, Ned Goddard, Steve Newman, Stan Wiggins, Karen Possner, Tryon Wells, Holly Syrrakos, Rich Lodish, Abigail Wiebenson, Peter Jones, Marianne Ross, John Noble, Diane Noble, Jim Drew, Hester Ohbi, David Winer, Jeff Komarow, Jane Winer, Sandra Purohit, Ray Purohit, Mike Gelb, Drew Walsh, and Ann Marie Cunningham

Approval of the minutes was deferred until September.

Captain’s Report
Drew Walsh reported that Trip Reid prepared a synopsis of a report from Scott Petrey, an environmentalist scientist, on ways to slow the erosion on the upriver end of the Island. The synopsis will be published in the Islander, including suggestions on planting trees and using the fallen trees as a buffer. Drew and Joe met with an electrician to discuss the use of a generator to protect the water supply, refrigerator and other key items in case of a power failure. Cost probably be about $800 for a generator and $1,100 for labor. The electrician also suggested a separate electric line.

The stairs to the tool shed will be moved outside the shed in order to provide a larger, solid floor and to enable better organization of the tools.

Membership Report
John Noble reported that 37 of the 62 new wait list applicants purchased passes. The passes allow the wait listers to use the Island on Monday through Friday from May to October, and any time during the rest of the year. One member was in arrears, but has paid his dues and is now back into membership, making a temporary total of 161 members.

A notification was sent to applicants who did not win the lottery citing that they weren’t selected because there were not enough slots in their age category.

New Business
It was suggested that a new membership roster be distributed as there have been a significant number of changes since January. A discussion of whether to include a roster of waiting list applicants ensued, whether such personal information should be distributed. The Standing Rules state that a roster of all members and officers be distributed to each member in January. This issue was withdrawn, and may possibly be presented again later.

The annual Island Regatta will be held on Labor Day, September 3.

Joe Hage and Whit Overstreet will embark on the Second Annual Island to Island Paddle on August 18. They will kayak 150 miles down the tidal Potomac from Sycamore Island to the Chesapeake Bay as they raise awareness of the Potomac’s water quality. All proceeds from their adventure will go to the Potomac Riverkeeper organization to help preserve our river and improve water quality.

Joe Hage’s 10 years
Joe’s tenure as Island caretaker was celebrated with song (Happy Decade to You) and with home-made cakes and other tasty goodies. Several members shared memories. Jim Drew begin by saying what everyone felt—that in addition to doing a wonderful job, what Joe really does is make the Island a happier place. Jane Winer and Holly Syrrakos exchanged accounts of how Joe first learned of the caretaker position. Was it Brad Reardon of Springriver Outfitters or Joe’s brother’s girlfriend at the Bethesda Co-Op?

Ann Marie Cunningham spoke of hiring Joe during Carl Linden’s tenure as president. Members of the personal committee loved Joe immediately, but were very concerned about safety issues related to having his young daughters, Kelsey and Kaylen, living on the Island. But Joe won the committee over during the second interview by demonstrating his careful consideration of the matter. It was a sad day for those on the hiring committee when the girls left the Island, and for many other members. She also remembers telling Joe that the clubhouse would be renovated, but that it might take a while. (It took nearly 7 years.) Jeff Komarow remembered that Joe’s normally amazing level of equanimity wore thin during the clubhouse renovation, as an unusually cold winter and building inspectors delayed construction. His “Notes from the Island” contained comments like:

• It’s really getting primitive now.
• Temperatures climbed out of the 20s today
• It’s above freezing in the bathroom, but not by much. (Of course, that was before the pipes froze and he had no running water.)
• If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

But finally, Joe’s old self returned:

• When this is thing done, it’s going to be awesome.
• I finally got to eat in the kitchen, and it’s like being in a forest canopy.

Dave Winer was skeptical at first about this guy with a ponytail, but Joe’s resourcefulness and energetic nature won Dave over. Joe’s skills at ice climbing and whitewater canoeing impressed Dave. Dave said that having Joe as caretaker and Alan as treasurer made it possible for him to be president.

Caroline Gelb, channeling for husband Alan, remembered an interview with Joe’s daughters that was conducted simultaneously with Joe’s interview to become caretaker. Alan was impressed with their knowledge about nature and their technique of catching catfish with cheese. Alan also spoke of Joe’s ingenuity in bridge construction, endurance during clubhouse renovation, creativity and talent demonstrated in his “Notes from the Island” and in his music.

Tryon Wells recognized that former caretakers had shorter tenures than Joe, and have left for a variety of reasons, including flooding, family issues, controversies with members. By contrast, Joe’s time has be quite peaceful, much to Joe’s credit, and Tryon urged us all not to take him for granted.

Drew Walsh first met Joe Hage, the summer of 2002, while filling in between regular caretakers. I was pleased to see some extra bucks he put in my hand after helping him move some of his belongings on the Island! Joe has done a lot for this club over his ten years, helping to improve the facilities we all share, but most of all being a great friend to us all.

Joe was presented with three gifts: a plaque, a check, and a special cherry wood paddle bearing an engraved Sycamore Island emblem.

Joe reminisced that at sunrise on his 40th birthday he was on the verge of quitting his job and moving west when he learned of the caretaker position. He was excited about the many benefits of working and living on the Island, being able to spend more time with his children, and for his nature studies. He thought that he would be very isolated but he is happy that the opposite is true. He has a whole new community that he loves. Joe is looking forward to many more years on the Island.

The meeting and celebration were adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,
Ann Marie Cunningham
Co-Recording Secretary