Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MINUTES of 3/30/09 General Membership Meeting

MINUTES of 3/30/09 Meeting

The Van Alstyne Homestead Society

A meeting of the general membership of the VanAlstyne Homestead Society was held on Monday March 30th 2009 at 7:00 PM at the VanAlstyne Homestead,
40 Moyer Street, Canajoharie, NY 13317.

Present were :

Officers: Joseph Trapani, President; Evan Horne, Secretary; Vince Fazio, Treasurer
Trustees: Garth Macfarland, Neil Thomas (not present: Victor Ferraro)

Members Barbara Spraker, Rachel Bliven*, Diane Forsberg*, John Buck, Melanie Shibley*, Albert Sakowicz, John DeValve, Grace Fenno, Jack Toomey, Noel Everett, Joanne Mickle, Stan McMillan, Christopher Hanley, Robert Chen, Rita Pineyro, Dr. Alfonzo Pineyro, Matt O’Brien, Cindy Sinchak, Alice Smith Duncan, Dr. Donald Bowden.
(* indicates new member)

Pres. Trapani called the meeting to order at 7:15 PM

Sec. Horne read the minutes of the November 24th 2008 special meeting into the record. A request was made to make these minutes available to the membership by posting them on the blog. The minutes were accepted on motion. Move Donald Bowden, Second Matt O’Brien

Treas. Fazio gave a report on the treasures of the Society (see attachment ‘A’). A discussion followed surrounding;

* Outstanding balances still owed by the society
* Yearly operational expenses average between $11,000.00 and $12,000.00
* The $5,000.00 donation from Arkell Foundation has been an essential part of our operations budget and is not available this year
* A discussion of the ability of VAHS to sever its finances from the Fort Rensselaer Club
* References to the Arkell Foundation should be careful to reference Arkell Foundation and not Arkell Hall.

The Report was accepted on motion Move John Buck, Second John Devalve

Sec. Horne read the minutes of the March 9th 2009 meeting of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees into the record.

The Following amendments were called for;

* Amend Alice Duncan-Smith to Alice Smith Duncan
* Amend the Protocol for Transference of Art and Artifacts to require at Ms. Smith Duncan’s request that a Trustee or appointed member of the VAHS be present during the transference process, and supervise Ms. Smith Duncan’s actions at all times as a matter of audit control.

There was a discussion of the authority of the gathered members, under the constitution of the Society, to approve the Board’s decision to release the art and artifacts to the Arkell foundation for safe keeping. After a thorough discussion the report was approved on motion. Move John Devalve Second Jack Toomey

Pres. Trapani reported the following resignations;

* Vice President Hans Drews Effective March 9th 2009 1:45PM
* Secretary Evan Horne Effective April 1st 2009
* Trustee Neil Thomas Effective Midnight March 30th 2009

Pres. Trapani asked for a volunteer to serve as Secretary for the Society at the June meeting. Ms. Joann Mickle volunteered and was appointed.

The resignations were accepted with regret Move Cindy Sinchak Second Joann Mickle

Alice Smith Duncan Reported on the membership drive planning meeting held March 16th 2009 at Canajoharie High School. Items discussed at this meeting and suggestions given at this meeting were;

* Discussion of the state of the roof and the progress of the repair work on it.
* A distinction between VAHS and Fort Rensselaer
* Discussion of the impending visit of the agent from the NYS Historic Regents Charter Office
* Ideas for building membership
* Concerns about the perception that Arkell Foundation sustains the VAHS and the perception that the VAHS is therefore “all set” financially.

Pres. Trapani reported on the repair work planned for the leak in the roof. The bid accepted by the Board was of Downes Construction and the quote for these repairs is $5,700.00. Work will begin in May. Downes is located in Fultonville, NY. A deposit of $1,750.00 must be made. The members, under advice from John Buck, determined to request that the contractor substitute copper in place of galvanized steel flashing in the repair work to be done. It was noted that the generous donation of the Arkell Foundation made this work possible.

The guidelines from the State for donated funds to repair the roof were cumbersome. Pres. Trapani has discovered through research that it is possible to amend the scope of our original request to procure these funds to request that they be purposed to replace the boiler. As the boiler is not of historical value and unseen, the requirements for its installation will be more reasonable and the monies requested may be available in less time.

Pres. Trapani summarized the Business Plan submitted by the Business Plan Committee, and subsequently submitted to Joseph Santangelo per his request at the November 24th 2008 meeting.

Pres. Trapani called for a nominating committee. Noel Everett, Diane Forsberg, Chris Hanley, Alfonso Pineyro were appointed. The committee was accepted on motion. Move John Devalve Second Garth Macfarland.

Pres. Trapani called for a By-Laws Committee to review and amend the by-laws. Alice Smith Duncan, Cindy Sinchak, and Rachel Bliven were appointed. The committee was approved on motion. Move John Devalve Second Matt O’Brien.

Pres. Trapani set the date of the annual meeting for June 29th 2009 at 7:00 PM EST at the Van Alstyne Homestead. Notice of this meeting shall contain the slate of officers to be voted on at the meeting.

Alice Smith Duncan reported that Fort Plain Museum has requested to borrow some Grider works from our collection for a display at their facility. After a brief discussion it was determined that this is too perilous a time in the life of VAHS to attempt to lend these works out.

There being no further business Pres. Trapani adjourned the meeting at 8:15 PM. The adjournment was carried on motion. Move John Devalve, Second Garth Macfarland.

Business plan

(draft) Business Plan 2009—2012





  1. Condition of building

  2. State of collection

  3. Membership demographics

  4. Relationship with Fort Rensselaer Club

  5. Current financial situation

  6. Legal

    1. Condition and availability of legal documents and information including constitution and by-laws.

    2. Homestead as Certified Historic Structure IV THE LOCAL MUSEUM MARKET

  1. Demographics of local community—personal and economic

  2. Other museums in area—similarities & differences

  3. Community interest in supporting local history

  4. Lessons to be learned from Arkell Museum experience


  1. Make necessary repairs to building

  2. Obtain curator to handle issues with collection

  3. Build a “safe room” for temporary storage of collection

  4. Publicize VHS to community, see Evan’s business plan proposal

  5. Develop membership drives

  6. Hold regular meetings to keep members informed of progress

  7. Develop a Web site with links to/from other similar sites

  8. Consider guest lecturer series where speakers discuss local history and/or specific items in our collection

  9. Consider an annual re-enactment event to commemorate a local historical occurrence, i.e., something that took place at the homestead during colonial times

  10. Contact similar local museums to gain information and share ideas

  11. Explore implementation of levels of members, i.e., corporate members, sponsors, etc.

  12. Pursue grants

  13. Develop other revenue sources, see Evan’s business plan proposal

  14. Aggressively solicit volunteers to implement above initiatives


  1. Develop plan for ongoing financial support

  2. Explore cost-sharing possibilities with similar local museums

  3. Obtain permanent paid curator

  4. Enhance building so it’s secure, presentable and climate controlled

  5. Restore art works in need of repair

  6. Frame and display collection throughout building

  7. Open building and collection to public

  8. Develop ongoing marketing initiatives

November 08 special meeting minutes


Minutes of the Special Meeting

November 24, 2008

Trustee Present: Mr. O. Neil Thomas

Officers Present: Mr. Joseph Trapani, President; Mr. Hans Drews, VP; Mr. Evan Horne Secretary

Members Present: Mrs. Grace Fenno; Mr. Joe Santangelo; Mr. Matt O’Brien; Mr. Oliver Simonsen; Dr. Donald Bowden; Mrs. Cindy Sinchak; Mr. Charles Clark, Esq.; Mrs. Alice Smith; Mr. Vic Ferraro; Dr. Robert Chen

Mr. Trapani called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM.

Mr. Joe Santangelo spoke briefly about his work with Arkell. He tasked the membership of VAHS to establish a plan and create a goal which will help to guide the organization. He remarked that Arkell would be interested in having a clearer picture of the direction of VAHS and encouraged the membership to move toward that goal. He mentioned that there has been a discussion of the possibility of creating a Canajoharie Historical Society which would embrace all of the individual societies under one credo.

Mr. Trapani brought forth a discussion of the position of Historian/Curator as described in the by-laws. This garnered a discussion of the position in theory and practice. Mrs. Alice Smith weighed in on the subject to lend her experience in dealing with historically significant items and societies. There was a lengthy discussion of the scope and contact of the Historian and the appropriate expectations the society may have of the position. It was resolved that to further develop the society’s position and to generate more material regarding these questions that a committee be formed to generate a business plan.

Mr. Trapani asked for a motion to form a Business Plan Committee. The committee was approved on motion (E. Horne move, M. O’Brien second)

Mr. Trapani asked for volunteers to be on the Business Plan Committee. The Committee will be Cindy Sinchak; Alice Smith; Joe Trapani; Matt O’Brien; Evan Horne

Mr. Trapani asked for a motion to create a Publicity Committee. The Publicity Committee will be tasked with better publicizing the VAHS and its events in an attempt to generate awareness and grow the membership. The committee was approved on motion. (C. Sinchak move, A. Smith second)

Mr. Trapani asked for volunteers to be on the Publicity Committee. The committee will consist of Alice Smith; Cindy Sinchak; Evan Horne

Mr. Trapani asked for a motion to hold meetings monthly. After discussion a meeting date was set for the next meeting for 02/09/09 at 7:00 PM. The motion was tabled until that meeting pending the results of the findings of the committees.

The meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM

Respectfully submitted, Evan R. Horne, Secretary.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Meeting at the HOMESTEAD March 30th at 7 pm

JOIN US for a full membership meeting tonight, and key votes on the future of the Van Alstyne Homestead Society.

notes from a 3/16/09 meeting

VAHS Suggestions and Ideas
A “first round” for the future? …
notes from a 3/16/09 meeting

A diverse group of 30 local citizens met on 3/16 for a broad-based discussion of the future potential of the Van Alstyne Homestead Society.

In no particular order (though repeated ideas seem to indicate strong recognition of clear interest or need), a sampling of suggestions that came out of the 3/16 meeting is transcribed below – and, we hope some of these ideas will interest YOU!

Establish a real, interactive web site

Different levels of membership – much lower general and family memberships

Insert publicity in local papers (not ads, but articles)

Consider lecture series
Newsletter for members?

Return to volunteer docents, if enough people & interest

Have a clean-up day
& a Garden Day – involve the Garden Club? Scouts – tie into badges, traditions

Mohawk Valley Museums Consortium – explore shared services; headquartering

Digitalize all historic documents housed in the homestead. Protection of collections.


Rental fee re-structuring
Grant writers
Fund raisers
New by-laws & dues structure

Tours – work with groups, bus tour companies, etc.

A useable/renovated kitchen would help rent the bldg.

1) expand user groups/and charge FEES for regular meetings: Fort Renss Club, Colonial Club, Tryon County Militia
2) Banks? Other private / corporate entities??
3) Open house – eg, with community house tours,
Christmas vendors (in conjunction with Arkell?)
In summer, coordinate with Tourist booth, staffed with knowledgeable retired volunteers, esp during the weekends
4) Have Spring/Fall maintenance & cleaning member weekends
5) Have Annual (Fall?) family/colonial weekend with Tryon Militia, Mohawk community, wood fire, cider, doughnuts etc, & advertise/charge small admission
6) Merchandise: Mugs, t-shirts, repro maps, etc.
sell to members, visitors, locally, other sites, online
7) Better signage – who to contact for info, access, etc.

Suggested rates : -- per Sue Everett
Students $ 5
Family $25
Senior $20
People volunteer time and talent for dues?

Set rate to rent facility for monthly meetings

Programs for community at low or no cost – Sell refreshments, and books, gifts

Partner with local schools –
Have classes meet at VAH
Teen organization
Invite Social Studies Teachers in Valley to meeting –
Ask, How can they utilize bldg??

Invite students to interview those who know history & use for school credit.

Have more meetings, various historical programs, etc, held in the building to encourage interest in it.
Educational programs – for schools and adults

Colonial history for kids, lectures,
Demonstrations and workshops in Colonial arts & crafts

Fundraising – antique appraisal day, Victorian Christmas party, auctions

Spring-cleaning day

Send out business plan

Merge with other organizations

Get schools involved – tour homesteadd, history classes, include other schools, get a real website

Need to be in compliance w NYS Pres & Hist (SPHO)

Schools – get involved with running historical games

Holiday celebrations (Carolling)

Family Gatherings for Arkell residents Hosted in VAH

Friday, March 27, 2009


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Renowned First Local History Museum In The Mohawk Valley

The Van Alstyne Homestead Society


MARCH 30th 2009

at the Van Alstyne Homestead

Moyer Street, Canajoharie NY

At 7:00 PM

An important meeting NOT to be missed!!

Discussion topics include: Forming a nominating committee,

Officer’s positions open for June annual meeting/election,

Revision of the BYLAWS,

Transfer of valuable items in collection to safe location,

Repairs to roof,

Membership drive strategy, and much more.

New members: submit 1/2 dues prior to meeting to be able to vote!

For more information

call 673-4437

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This blog just went up today, March 11th, 2009 -- thank you for visiting!

much more ahead,
so please keep an eye out,
an open ear and mind,
and post comments, ideas, memories, suggestions,
& send your good wishes and thoughts via this site's comment box.

"Challenging times require change,
change requires and inspires new energy,
new energy (like spring) warms it all up all over again."

Thanks, the Van Alstyne Homestead Society volunteers