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SMA Board Minutes - Dec. 4, 2021

· Board Minutes

 SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes

December 4, 2021

Via Zoom

9:30 am


In attendance: Directors Ara Jerahian, Al DiSabatino, Bob Dodge, Howie Marshall, George Bokinsky,

Rob Burgess and Club Member Jon Wallace. Kerry Kertes was at a school robotics program and was

unable to attend. A quorum was present.


The minutes of the November 6, 2021 meeting were approved. James Shields has obtained some of the

components to our star party directional light boards. We still need to explore the use of QR codes to

link to our webpage to eliminate paper handouts at star parties.


Star Party and Other Events

  • The Waldorf School star party in Freeport the night before was reviewed. Clear skies and an

enthusiastic group of 6 th graders made for a wonderful night. With about 20 in attendance the

club has passed the 1000 attendee threshold for our events in 2021!

  • The Ladies Adventure Club event is scheduled for 5:30 on Friday, Dec. 10. Thirty-two are

registered to attend, rain or shine. The Club will offer an indoor program incorporating

equipment show & tell, an EAA component and instruction on star charts and planispheres.

  • Action Item: Jon Wallace presented his proposal for a regular star party event at Neptune Dr

every month, rain or shine. With clear skies there would be observing and explanation of

instruments, and also a short, repeating indoor presentation on some interesting astronomical

topic. In inclement weather the event would be all indoors. Jon used a similar program

successfully in CT and will help flesh out operational logistics including the number of volunteers

required but will leave it to the Program Committee to administer it. Jon will work with James

and Rob on a start date of March 2022 and a schedule for the year. The Board thanked Jon for

the proposal and his willingness to launch this program, providing a recurring event we can


  • Discussion occurred on helping newbies with telescopes. Since inviting someone with telescope

problems or questions to a regular star party can consume so much of a volunteer’s time, Howie

suggested we schedule telescope workshops a few times per year where people could come late

afternoon, get help with questions and setting up, followed by some observing that evening.

The Board agreed, recognizing volunteer time is limited for helping at regular star parties.

  • Action Item: Rob provided a list of national/international stargazing events for 2022 from an

article in the Reflector. James was asked to review and make a recommendation at the January

Board meeting on which of these events we should incorporate into our outreach calendar for


  • Action Item: George was asked as Chair of the Program Committee to work with Rob and

others on recruiting speakers and topics for the January meeting, which is designed to help

those new to astronomy. Topics could include basic terminology commonly used; use of

equipment such as Telrads or binoculars; basic scope set up; use of eyepieces and magnification;

explanation of terms such as focal length and f ratios; use of filters, etc.


Equipment – Ara reported that the donated CGE Pro Mount has been sold to a club member for

$1,750 and the donated Celestron Star Sense alignment system has been sold on Cloudy Nights for

$300. The donated Celestron 11” SCT Edge OTA has also been offered for sale within the club. Any item

not sold to club members will be offered to other clubs in Maine and then posted on Cloudy Nights. The

goal is to convert unused items to cash and clear out the shed so that it contains what we need for star

parties and our lending program.


Bob reported he recently has accepted a donated a vintage Questar telescope. Rob asked him to

consult with Russ on its disposition as Russ owns a Questar instrument.


Finance Report – Bob reported $9,757 in the club treasury with rent at Neptune Drive prepaid

through 12/31/21 and with the purchase of the new mount on Cloudy Nights for $1,695. This does not

include the proceeds from the two pieces of equipment noted above that should add $2,050.

Membership renewals are trickling in. While the club has a savings account to be used to start collecting

the endowment it was agreed that at this modest level of cash assets we did not need to mechanically

deposit to that account but will keep track of how much of our general treasury is the result of

equipment sale proceeds and grant monies. Once those numbers become more meaningful, and once

we have fitted-out our accessory equipment needs for club instruments we will revisit the transfer of a

percentage of these funds into the endowment fund. Bob suggested that we should maintain 150% of

our annual expenses in cash in our operating account at all times.


Grant Submissions – Rob reported that he did not submit a grant proposal to the Bowdoin

Common Good fund that provides $2500 grant to local non-profits, due to the press of other matters.

We can revisit next year.


Review of Organizational Structure and Club Priorities – This discussion was initiated to

review, reaffirm or change SMA’s committee organization in light of the Club’s mission, and the

priorities associated therewith. The discussion was not precipitated by an event or crisis but was simply

determined to be good management to periodically review and ensure we are operating pursuant to an

agreed-upon plan.


The Board agreed the current committee structure was appropriate. It also agreed to add a sixth

standing committee – Fundraising – to the mix to reflect the Club’s new focus on seeking outside

support of its mission, particularly public outreach. There was virtually no discussion of the revised Excel

chart that Rob put together on Committees and Responsibilities. This latest draft was an outgrowth and

refinement of Al’s earlier Excel draft of Committees’ duties and priorities that was derived from a

Reflector article on club governance.


Action Item: Rob urged all Board members to review his draft by the January meeting so that any

changes can be incorporated into the list and it can remain a working document for club governance.

The discussion centered on the continuing challenge of energizing members to volunteer to support club

committees and activities working to fulfill the club’s mission. With a board of 11, some of whom are

inactive due to physical constraints, school, or otherwise, most of the work the club undertakes has

fallen on a handful of directors. There is nothing new in this dynamic as it is common to most all-

volunteer organizations. The more successful ones, however, find ways to overcome it. Rob reiterated

his belief that getting members more connected to the club through any number of ways, such as

participating in a star party, preparing a short piece for a club meeting, sharing an interest with a club

member such as astrophotography or radio astronomy, undertaking an AL observing program – all

enrich and build confidence and a willingness to do more. The challenge is overcoming the inertia that

exists in all of us to take on new challenges.


Some of the suggestions emerging from the discussion were:

1. Action Item: Membership Committee to circulate a list to all Directors with names and physical

addresses of all members, so that organizers of events in the club could seek help from those

members who lived closest to the event site;

2. At club meetings Rob should emphasize more the need for volunteers and how members can

help – especially with specific, well-defined or timely needs;

3. Action Item: Rob to consult with Dwight Lanpher, as liaison with all Maine (and other regional)

clubs on how other clubs recruit volunteers;

4. Committee Chairs to actually recruit members, by calling them, for help on specific projects or

events. The general belief is that people will respond with a Yes, if asked, but if not asked will

be loath to volunteer.

5. Action Item: Membership Committee to devise plan for polling members on special interests

that could be shared among members to promote interaction among members.


The meeting concluded about 11:30 am.


Submitted by

Rob Burgess