Monday, December 12, 2022


Attendees  were :
Virginia Winn, John Wetzel, Karl Smith, and Marguerite Frongillo. During votes, John was proxy for Fred, and Marguerite was proxy for Dianne.

At 7:30,  The meeting commenced with a report on the November 5 dance:
In spite of being unannounced at our previous dance (10-22), there were 16 dancers (ncluding two board members). We charged $8 admission, as the first mailchimp announcement of this dance, sent 10-28, gave $8 as the admission cost. We needed to charge this amount, as subsequent personal advertising by board members had to adhere to that price, so as to avoid any potential charges of false advertising.
Karl kindly is contributing $54.00 in cash to help with door shortfall.
Future dances will have $10.00 admission, as this is our normal charge..
So far we have not paid anything for CMFA. At this point we have paid out (or will pay out) about $750 for sound equipment that John, Karl, and other COTMD members have purchased for and installed at CMFA for the use of all CMFA clients.  Our room rent for CMFA is expected to be 20% of the door for a given dance. Twenty per cent of the door for our 4 dances at CMFA have not yet added up to $750, so we have not paid any room rent yet.

John and Marguerite provided different parts of the treasurer's report, since Victor was not present.  Those present voted to approve the report.
Aside from the normal "status of funds" part of the report, it also included mention of a $500 contribution from an anonymous doner, and a $54 cash donation from Karl to help cover the shortfall caused by our inability to charge a full $10 per dancer at the last dance.

The attendees voted to approve the minutes of the previous "emergency" meeting (these are posted on our board website!)

There was an agenda item to approve expenditures of $100 for canned music, but this item was not taken up for discussion.

Approve expenditures for sound gear for CMFA:
John provided a list of costs for all already-purchased and installed "intended for transfer to CMFA" sound equipment, as well as for other items intended for the same that still needed to be purchased, with the latter being close estimates and the former being the actual amounts spent.  The total amount we expect to spend for gear that is intended for transfer to CMFA  should total less than $750.00.  It is intended that COTMD ‘s donation of this equipment will serve two purposes:
1. The funds thus spent will be considered as substituting for fees we would ordinarily be charged for use of the CMFA space.
2. The equipment will allow more flexible use of the "pink room" by our group and other groups which might be able to make use of a complete sound system that can handle any audio source (microphones, line level signals and bluetooth signals).

A vote to approve all of the above previous and future expenditures (expected to total less than $750) was proposed, seconded and approved by vote.  The vote has the effect of approving all expenditures for the CMFA intended equipment that has already been paid out by Victor, and all of the above items that have not yet actually been purchased, once those expenditures are submitted to our new treasurer.

Victor had recently announced via email his intention to resign his position as our treasurer.  Dianne Britton offered to serve as our next treasurer.  A motion was tendered to approve her as our new treasurer.  The motion was seconded and all present voted in favor.

John announced that Dianne has kindly volunteered to (in addition to acting as treasurer) be in charge of our BlogSpot website, as well as MailChimp marketing or our dances.

Those present enthusiastically suggested much needed steps that we hope that Dianne will address:
A] Update the “Dance Information” section of our BlogSpot, designating music as “recorded or live band”
B] Have a prominent button or link where people can request having our email notifications sent to their email address; have this in multiple places- even in MailChimp emails.
C] Have a prominent “donation” button in our BlogSpot.
D] Get rid of our outdated, unused websites, such as Lake Murray Contra.
E] Every link we have – email, Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, Instagram etc- needs to be displayed on every marketing outreach item. Karl said  he would help with Twitter, Meetup,  and Instagram, but it might be best to have a designated board member who could handle all online and real world marketing efforts.  For now, Karl and Dianne will be handling their respective marketing platforms and efforts.

John explained that our insurance contract holds harmless our organization AND both of our venue owners, CMFA and “Lexington County Contradance.” The latter term does not correctly identify the protected entity, so that needs to be changed to whoever is the responsible owner of the land parcel that contains the Lake Murray Contra Hall (most likely Susan Fort or someone in her immediate family).

We discussed possible ways to manage contacts between our insurer and the board:  Currently we need to remember to contact our agent yearly, to pay the bill. It would be much better for us to give our agent our contact information and contact us every year. Karl is on record for contacting our agent, who works for a subsidiary of the insurance company.

The meeting attendees were informed that we have paid out $650 for insurance this year, and this will be an ongoing yearly expense.

We discussed the current problems associated with not having a fixed, known to be available for sure venue, which holds up our ability to hire callers and bands because we cannot do that if we don't have a venue pinned down.

We briefly discussed "music licensing" in general and Emily Rush in particular:
John mentioned that music licensing and recorded music contributed to changing square dancing from a folk tradition to a money-making modern "club square dancing" phenomenon. John also stated that Emily Rush is a great (and widely acclaimed) caller.  However, charging as much for a collection of recorded music curated by her as would ordinarily suffice to pay for a live band seems excessive (John's opinion).

John also shared pertinent comments that board member Kenny sent via email and that are paraphrased here:
1. It is crucial that we be able to plan our dances a well in advance, and announce each dance way ahead of time, so our dancers know we will be there for them.
2. It is important to minimize, or even phase out the recorded music dances within about a year because our crowd wants live music.
3. The caller runs the dance. Others need to acknowledge that the caller has a plan, and to cooperate with the caller.

Much time having past, John adjourned the meeting at about 9:15 PM.

NOTE (by John Wetzel): Although this information does not match what was decided AT this meeting, the next meeting has been scheduled for January 18 at Marguerite's house.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Minutes, Occtober 27, 2022

On October 27, 2022 a hastily planned "emergency" meeting was held at Marguerite's house. Since low attendance was expected, several people gave proxy voting powers to other board members who they expected to attend. Only Marguerite, Bob and John were actually able to attend.  Victor was planning to attend, but could not.  Virginia, Fred and Dianne gave proxy voting powers to John and Marguerite, to be used if appropriate.  Karl attended via a telephone set on speakerphone mode.   Since this meeting was not a regular meeting, and because there were very few people present, John W decided to limit the agenda to the "emergency" items.  The emergency consisted primarily of disorganized scrambling to figure out whether we could have dances AND should have dances in November (previously planned) and December (previously rejected) AND, if so, how to pull that off.  A secondary consideration was looking ahead to the first three months of 2023, and trying to do some longer range planning to cut down on the disorganized, very short fused zig zagging of our organization.

Karl reported that per a meeting with Joseph, the following dates were available:  Nov 5 and Dec 10.  Marguerite responded that Kenny was available on Nov 5 and that no one had responded regarding December.  The board had previously decided that December would have no dances, but Karl insisted this was a bad idea.  Because Karl was on the phone, the entire rest of the meeting was taken up by the participants arguing about whether to consider a December dance.  Because of the way phones work, this ended up with everyone present being very annoyed at our inability to converse in full duplex mode (meaning you and the other person can talk and hear each other at the same time).  It quickly became apparent that the conversation and the meeting were a waste of time, and so the meeting was halted with some basic planning instructions as the only take-away.  John asked Karl to approach Joseph (of CMFA) about the following dates in January, February and March of 2022:  The second Saturday of each of those months AND the Friday just before that (for canned dances) AND the fourth Saturday of each of those months (for Live band dances).  Karl was asked to explore ALL of those dates with Joseph, and to inform Marguerite immediatly of the subset of those days that were provisionally available.  John also asked Marguerite to investigate the availability of callers (and bands where applicable) as soon as Karl provided her with those provisionally available venue dates.

It is important to note that as of this meeting, the official board plan was still to have NO December dance.  This point was re-iterated to all board members after the meeting, via email.

Because of the emergency nature of the meeting, the lack of participants and the ongoing lack of agreement about how to proceed, no attempt was made to conduct ordinary business, such as treasurer's reports.  No formal board approved decisions were made at this meeting. 

As previously agreed, the next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at Virginia's house.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Minutes September 7, 2022

 COTMD Board Meeting September 7, 2022 at Virginia Winn's house.

John called the meeting to order at 7:30pm.

Attending in person: John, Dianne, Bob [Barb], Fred, Virginia, Marguerite, Victor; nobody was remote.  It was determined that we have a quorum.

Victor presented an abbreviated treasures' report stating the cash on hand balance in the checking account.  Victor dontated $100 to help cover expenses for the last dance (held 8/28/22 at Lake Murray.)

Minutes of the previous meetings were read and approved.  These were for the Board meetings held July 13, and May 25.

The main topic of dicussion was around issues for using the CMFA [Columbia Music Festival Association] space on Pulaski Street.  It was generally agreed that using this space as much as we can is a good thing in view of the fact that Lake Murray is so far out of town.

There are issues:
    (a) Scheduling: it is unclear when we can get commitment for our dances;
    (b) How often and when to promote the new location.
    (c) Sound support issues because of equipment.
    (d) A donation to CFMA is expected; the question is how much; $80/dance?
    (e) CFMA requires insurance.

We are striving for two dances per month.  The 4th Saturday dance will be with a live band.  The 2nd Saturday dance will be with recorded music.

[NOTE: At the time these notes were transcribed, we had in fact held three dances at Pulaski Street, on 9/17/22, 10/08/22, and 10/22/22.  The 9/17/22 and 10/08/22 dances were with recorded music.  The 10/22/22 dance was with a live band.]

The Board authorized Karl to get the insurance coverage as required by CFMA.  He stated that the cost might be in the $600 range per year.  CFMA has contacts that are familiar with the requirements.

There was a lot of discussion about sound support, given that it had already been established at Lake Murray.  The going forward plan is to buy a mixing board (~$250) and some powered speakers.  The board approved these expenditures.

Booking for Pulaski Street can not proceed until the venue schedule has been finalized.  It was agreed that we would have band scheduled through October.  November and December schedules are unclear.

The next board meeting was scheduled for 11/16/22.

The meeting adjourned at 8:32pm.

Fred Druseikis
transcribed on 10/23/2022 from notes

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Minutes July 13, 2022

Minutes of Contra Board meeting, 7/13/22
Those present: 


Minutes [edited 7-20-22]

John calls the meeting to order.

John said that the minutes of last meeting were not available, so the minutes were not reviewd and approved.  

ADDENDUM by John:  I thought the minutes were unavailable because they hadn't been posted on the COTMD board blog/website.  In fact, Fred had sent copies to all of us well ahead of time, and all of us that were at this meeting failed to remember this fact.  I have no idea why I forgot it, once reminded of it I remembered having read thru it, because it even included comments about things that were accomplished post meeting via email.  I read all that, understood it, and then failed to remember that this info existed when we had this meeting.  For now, we will have two sets of minutes to approve at the next meeting, this being one of those.

Treasurer’s report:
$6505.66 in bank
$350.00 in cash
$6,855.66 total

A motion was made and seconded and all voted to accept the treasurer’s report.
Victor announced his donation of $175, with which he paid the CDSS for this year’s COTMD affiliation/membership and tax-exempt status.

John called for a discussion of what is being done to advertise our August dance.

Victor will make it a Facebook event by Wednesday 7/14 and will send a newsletter by the end of this week.
Victor will send Karl a write-up to use in advertising.

Karl has a contact at the Lourie Center. They will email our Contra events to their list. Karl will fund the first 6 months of a Columbia Contra meetup group.   It costs $100 every 6 months. The board can decide on effectiveness over that time and either continue that group or not. It was suggested that we ask dancers, as part of a waiver document, how they had heard about the dance.  But we may also get how heard, email, and other info from a sign-in sheet. Suggestion was made to reach out to university radio to advertise the dance. Suggestion was made that many university students may have trouble finding transport to the dance at the lake Murray location whereas the intown location will be much easier.

John called for a discussion of insurance.  Karl presented the insurance information he had researched.  Possible sources were via CDSS, or via an outfit called "Event Helper"

The CDSS insurance would cost less, but pay only up to $5,000 for a  bodily injury claim.
It would have to be approved as adequate by CFMA. The Event helper insurance  would cost only a little more, and provide up to $35,000 for a bodily injury claim.  That insurance is already approved for purpose by  CFMA.  Based on these numbers presented by Karl, we had a discussion to try and decide whether to proceed with officially approving our purchase of either kind of insurance for a year.  We would expect to pay Event Helper $677 per year to insure up to 24 dance events.  If we have one dance in December, and no dances in June, or July, we could have 2 dances a month in the remaining months.  We calculated that, assuming 19 dance events per year, the per dance cost of the insurance would be about $36 , (roughly  three extra dancers needed to offset insurance cost).  Exceeding 24 dances per year would require additional insurance payout.  Less than 19 dances would raise the insurance cost per event.

The discussion gradually drifted to  a consensus that the Event Helper insurance was the way to go.  John mades a motion to authorize buying Event Helper insurance for one year.
The motion was seconded and followed by a unanimous yea vote.

Victor asked that we revisit the question of if, when and how we might need to suspend or terminate the operation of our dance group.    The average cost of a dance including talent, sound, and hall is about $500.  He suggests that the bottom line is $1500, as this is enough to give 3 dances.  If we had to stop, we would have to do a tremendous amount of work to restart. It takes a huge amount of time and effort to apply for grants.  John said that the rules for dissolving COTMD are in the bylaws, but that CDSS rules might  supersede our bylaws. Following a discussion of this, a motion was made and we voted on this, all agreeing that $1500 was the bottom line causing us to cease regular activity and enter emergency operation. We  agreed  that if we ever arrive at the point of our budget getting this low, we would meet and decide
how to proceed,  which could include  having three more dances, having one big dance, or just shutting down and transferring our funds and assets to CDSS or to another  nearby Contra group, or even going into some sort of hibernation mode.  The point of having a "$1500" red line is to trigger a formal required urgent evaluation of how to proceed, not to force any particular outcome.

Karl suggested that more could be done to strengthen our dances and preventing us from reaching out bottom line. He suggests reaching out to U of SC students.  He also suggests reaching out to other groups to which an individual board member might belong. As an example, he mentioned that he is in a vegan group that is interested in a variety of “events.”  They may well be interested in our dance events. Also we could be applying for a grant from the SC Arts Commission. We need to be getting new people to handle things, and we need to seek donations, before we reach the low point.

Victor and Karl initiated a discussion of recorded music dances, some of which could be techno. The techno dances vary in how many minutes each of the dances lasts: for example the first four on a particular record were 5,15, 30, and 5 minutes. It was determined that most recorded dances should be traditional.

Victor kindly offered to call for us, both for recorded music and for live bands.

We are planning to have both a live music dance and a recorded music dance in September, October, and November.
We would like a live band for the 4th Saturday in September, but we do not know whether the dance will be at Pulaski St or at Lake Murray.

Our strategy would be for our regular/traditional monthly live band dances to ask for CMFA for that Saturday, and if not available, to hold those dances at Lexington or another facility.  As for the additional "new in-between dances" we would take the more experimental route of asking CMFA for Saturday first, and then Friday if that was not available.  As we gain experience with CMFA we can consider being flexible about  using the Pulaski venue  by considering either friday or saturday for all dances, but that not being the current plan of action.  For now, we are decided to keep our "regular " dances always on the same Saturday, and be flexible about our "additional/new" dances.

Bob asked, once we have submitted the paperwork to request a date, how long will it be until we know that the room is reserved for us? [I did not hear an answer to this question.]

When dates are secured, John would start to set up sound at Pulaski St., for now using existing amplifier and speakers on the site and relocating these. so that the speakers are in front of the band setup area, and elevated.  This would include an amplifier and 2 speakers, and maybe someday in the future a mixing board and wiring for 8 inputs for 4 people (caller and 3 musicians with 2 channels  each.) The 8 channel mixer would be for all groups using Pulaski St Pink Room, and would be owned by CFMA and has to be procured some how in the future.

Victor, who is the Charlotte contra board’s secretary, informed us that they had 100 dancers at this season’s first dance, but the second dance was a bailout due to Covid. He is also involved with River Falls-Harvest Moon, who are now dancing on the 1st, 3rd. and 5th Saturdays. He mentioned that Charleston has 10 local callers available.  They had their first dance last Friday but their new venue could only hold 28 dancers, so they had to turn dancers away.
Victor also said that the Charlotte group would like us to sponsor their new version of what used to be the gypsy meltdown and is now the Carolina meltdown. Set for the second weekend of March 2023, it will still be at Camp Thunderbird on Lake Wiley. The cost of renting the whole camp is now prohibitive, so they are only renting the dance hall. They need manpower: their new people are not trained and need help for running the event.  They also need money: $500 from COTMD would be welcome.

If we had a big event in Columbia, we would have to use gyms in big churches. To avoid that fate, we would need a long term planning committee to work with Arts folks to find appropriate space ahead of time.

At about 9 pm, John made a motion adjourn the meeting. It was seconded and all voted to adjourn.   ADDENDUM by John:  I forgot to set a date for our next meeting, so that will be handled via email.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Minutes May 25, 2022

 COTMD Board Meeting Minutes, for the meeting held on May 25, 2022

The Board met at Virginia's house.  John called the meeting to order at 7:36pm.

Attending: Bob (Barb), Karl, Fred, John, Virginia, Margurite
Absent: Victor, Dianne, Kenny

It was determined that a quorum was present.

Minutes from the previous meeting April 25, 2022 had been discussed via e-mail and several corrections were noted; the revised minutes were approved.

There was no treasurer's report.  There were no financial transactions since the last meeting.

Agenda for this meeting: Officer and Board election, Progress on the Dance Series restart

Election of Officers

    A slate consisting of the current board membership and officer roles was proposed, seconded, and approved.

    For the record the officer slate is:

        President: John Wetzel
        Vice President: Margurite Frongrello
        Treasurer: Victor Gascon
        Secretary: Fred Druseikis

        At-large Board Members are:
            Dianne Britton
            Kenny Greer
            Barbara (Bob) lastname?
            Karl Smith
            Virginia Winn

Dance Series Progress

The board discussed at length various ideas and specifics for how to unfold the forthcomming dance season.  The nature of the conversation was more akin to a working session to decide what to do, rather than a specified set of motions for actions to be taken.

It was recognized that we need to have more than an August dance to restart the series.  The discussion revolved around various ideas:
    (1) Planning dates through January 2023
    (2) Don't consider a dance in December because holidays
    (3) Use a live band and caller for August, October, and January.
    (4) Use recorded music of various types (trad or techno) for September and November.
    (5) Continue planning for the use for the CFMA [Columbia Music Festival Association] when possible because of it's highly desirable downtown location (on Pulaski Street just on the edge of the Vista.)

Karl briefly described a multi-target messaging campaign involving different organizations and web sites.  He emphasized the need to begin messaging in June to let people know "we're coming, details to follow."  And then to message again in July with specifics as they become known.

Fred suggested that a "pick-up band" of local musicians might be possible for October.  This was an off-the-cuff suggestion subject to further discussion amongst potential participants.  If an out-of-town band were available that would be fine too.

Karl further elaborated on the discussion about the CFMA space and the general nature of the conversation with Joseph, the CFMA Associate Director.  To make the CFMA space viable as a PERMANENT ALTERNATIVE to Lake Murray, we need two things to be true:
    (a) Commitments for our dance dates, which are contingent on sighing an agreement with CFMA for use of their space;
    (b) An additional agreement with CFMA to keep our equipment on-site so that it doesn't need to be hauled to each dance; this seems to place a requirement for additional equipment;
    (c) Therefore additional audio equipment may need to be acquired, or moved from Lake Murray, as long as the CFMA can assure the dates.
    (d) It is unlikely that CFMA can commit to the same date for our season.

For the record, in the course of the discussions John wanted to make it very clear that he has has to retire from the role of audio engineer and sound tech for COTMD dances.  The hiatus imposed by the pandemic has created the opportunity and necessity for this transition.  The COTMD must set up proper support processes so John can step back from this support role to which he as so graciously assumed over many years.  A start on this was accomplished earlier this year by moving some of our equipment to Lake Murray.  This reality directly impacts the requirements for venues.  (I am paraphrasing my understanding of John's remarks.)

After an hour's worth of conversation we were mightily confused, so John created a table in real-time to describe his understanding of the discussion as of that moment  (let's say 8:50pm):

Date (Approx)       Music                    Location               

August              Live Band                In-Town [CFMA] NOTE: Since changed to Lexington venue!
September         Recorded Music      In-Town
October             Live Band                In-Town
November         Recorded Music      In-Town
December         No Dance
January 2023    Live Band                In-Town

Specifically we would try to use CFMA for August with Lake Murray as backup.

The date was assumed to 3rd Saturday but this has changed.  There are no commitments from CFMA for these dates.  See Notes below.

Next Meeting date proposed for July 13, 2022; but this may change based on availability.

The Meeting was adjourned at 9:15pm

In writing this I find there is no mechanism that seems to incorporate business conducted by e-mail.  What follows is additional actions take by e-mail vote, or events and activites of board members which might be relevant to the substance of these minutes.  (Robert's Rules does not allow the motion to ajourn to be tabled (i.e., deferred) because then there would never be an end to the meeting.)  So our meeting did end, but we never stop talking (LOL).  Hence just a list of e-mail transactions to append to this set of minutes until they are approved at the next (face) meeting.

BUSINESS SINCE CONDUCTED BY E-MAIL (This list as of June 7, 2022)

(1) After the meeting there was an email vote to change the dance date to 4th Saturday. The motion was seconded and approved.  The reason primarily was to avoid conflict with regional dances often attended by members of the Columbia dance community.

(2) In an e-mail, John notified the Board that the idea of moving the equipment from Lake Murray to CFMA is not feasible by the August dance.  Therefore the August dance needs to be at Lake Murray.

(3) Victor, Karl, Fred and Dianne, visited the CFMA venue Thursday, June 2.  We saw the facility in general and the specific space in particular.  The general conclusion was that this would be quite good for us.  Victor summarized the inspection in an email to the Board.  Further progress including commitments to dates is predicated on fulfilling CFMA requirements including insurance.

(4) Karl has received the application form from CFMA and forwarded it to the board.  CFMA is requesting a donation at a level commensurate with charges space of equivalent value.  This needs to be discussed because it is not $50 per dance (as in $1/person) but possibly rather more like $50 per hour (~$200).  There is also a charge to a CFMA presence at the dance which if it is an employee of CFMA is treated as a donation, or otherwise as a compensation if the person is not on CFMA staff.  Proof of insurance is required to be submitted with the application.  An officer needs to take action on the application.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Minutes March 16, 2022

Minutes March 16, 2022   COTMD
Karl (new member, see below)

The meeting began with the treasurers report, which was provided by Virginia, per info from Victor.  The report was essentially "no change since last board meeting".

No one had read the previous minutes, so those were not approved, and that will be handled at the next meeting.

John reported on his visit to the CMFA (Columbia music festival association) space.  Although the spaces are more suitable then they were before, John thinks they are still problematic.  The visit was prompted by information from Karl Smith, who was also invited to attend this board meeting, and agreed to do so.  This resulted in a drawn out discussion of the space, and the advantages of an in town dance venue.  Karl pointed out that John's notion of "sound leakage" from other Saturday events was not a real problem, as otherwise other users would have encountered this issue.  It was agreed that John and Karl would visit the facility on several Saturday evenings (as time and schedules permit) to see what Saturday nights are actually like at the CMFA space.

Karl seems motivated to try and make a central Columbia venue a possibility, and was offered (and accepted) an invitation to join our board.  The board voted formally to accept him as a new at large board member.

John pointed out that for the "best" (for us) room in the CMFA facility to be reasonably workable, it ought to have the following:
1.  A pair of powered speakers and a small mixing board that are permanently attached/assigned and wired into that room.  (We need only add mics and cables)
2.  Some kind of sound treatment on the two short walls of the room (behind band, and back of hall) to eliminate echo.
3.  A real "sprung" floor.

John said that if typical Saturday nights do not have audio bleed problems from other events (per Karl's report that this is not a real problem based on his understanding) then he would be willing to discuss possibility that CMFA might put proper sound system and/or echo treatment in the chosen room, with labor help and advice from COTMD.

We then discussed the "when should we open back up" issue.  After discussing the current covid outlook, we, as a board, formally voted to attempt to have a dance at Susan's Lexington facility (with option to shift it to another venue if appropriate) on the third Saturday of August 2022.  Marguerite will research band/caller possibilities for that date.

In light of rapidly changing covid considerations, we also decided to have our next meeting fairly soon.  So the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday April 20 (so as to avoid a meeting while everyone is finishing up their taxes).

The meeting was adjourned.