SMA Directors’ Meeting Minutes
December 4, 2021
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
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.