Dear Friends of Charles Towne Landing,
As you are aware, the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Charleston area disrupted the Annual Meeting scheduled for September 12, 2017. Fortunately, the Landing was spared any significant damage, though the staff spend many hours cleaning up debris scattered throughout the Park. In the meantime, the committee chairs of the Board of Directors of the Friends have been compiling their reports, and I am pleased to include them in this posting. In addition, Rob Powell, Park Manager, and Derek Poston, Board treasurer, prepared more detailed reports for your consideration, and their reports are included as well. From all of these reports I think you will agree that the Friends’ support for the Landing has been substantial, not only in the amount of financial support, but also in terms of the hours spent working to make sure our projects strengthen the mission and work of the Landing to serve the people of the Low Country, the State and the Nation. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments relating to any of the following committee reports, or to any other matters concerning the Friends of Charles Towne Landing. I will direct your comment or inquiries to the appropriate committee chair, and return their responses and comments. On behalf of the Board of Directors, let me thank you for your interest and loyal support of the Friends, and to Park Manager Rob Powell and staff.
Gary Nichols, President, Board of Directors, Friends of Charles Towne Landing
Pat Ezell, chair
The committee developed new membership rack cards. These cards include the purpose of the Friends organization, the scope of the work do for the Landing, the membership application and the levels of membership. The committee also revised the Charles Towne Landing decal for automobiles and other locations. Please stop by the Visitors Center to pick up rack cards and decals for your own use, and to hand out to your friends and neighbors. You may also request our membership chair to mail a supply of rack cards and cards and decals. Current membership stands at 70 individuals.
Caroline Thibault, chair
Thanks to all the volunteers at the Landing for their efforts during the past year. They have aided the Landing in all manner of ways to gain self-sufficiency. This year the Board decided that all regular volunteers would be considered to be Friends of Charles Towne Landing. Now you can be a Friend by either volunteering regularly or paying a small membership fee. With regard to staffing the 5K Race the Landing Series, we hope to use more of the Friends to help. We will need volunteers to be shuttle drivers, to man water stations, and to help with food serving. Did you know it takes 14 volunteers to simply serve food? We will send letters to all Friends to alert them to this opportunity to help. The runners in our community are a great group to know! If you have friends who would like to volunteer at the Landing, please encourage them to join us. We appreciate our volunteers, and the Landing is a great place to serve.
Sarah L. Stuhr, chair
The committee hosted the Annual Meeting of the Friends in September 2016, with a wine and cheese reception in the Visitors Center, with committee chairs presenting their reports, along with presentation by Park Manager Rob Powell. In April 2017, the committee hosted the Annual Volunteer and Staff Appreciation Dinner, attended by 65 volunteers and staff members, with Ben Moise again donating his time and cooking expertise to prepare his special recipe of Frogmore Stew. The Special Events committee never works alone, for all Board members help in all endeavors the Friends undertake, whether it be making deserts or soliciting door prizes for the Appreciation Dinner (22 area businesses responded to our solicitations for the Dinner), or volunteering to serve the participants in the 5K Races.
Lisa Deaton, chair
Our committee of Friends, Volunteers, fellow runners and their friends welcomed the largest crowd ever for our last Race in July: 308 finishers. We are fortunate to have a number of major sponsors for the Series, whose banners welcome the runners along the race course in the Landing and in Founders Hall, where all participants enjoy the theme-based, post-race dinners prepared by master outdoor chef Jamie Westendorff. The next Race in the series will be on New Years’ Day, 2018. It will be a Pajama Run, with a renew, reuse and recycle theme. As with all 5K Race the Landing races, special awards are presented after the dinners to the leading finishers. The Board has completed a survey for submission to the 5K Race the Landing participants well in advance of the 5K Race on New Year’s Day. At the last Board meeting in July 2017, and on behalf of the Friends and the 5K Race the Landing Series, Board president Gary Nichols presented Park Manager Rob Powell a check for $40,000 for the exclusive benefit of Charles Towne Landing. Please see photograph, and the Park Manager’s Report. A commemorative celebration of the life of Cindy Salyer, a Race the Landing volunteer for 6 years, was held at Founders Hall on October 8, 2017. Cindy was killed on September 7, 2017 in a collision on I-26.
Along with Board member Pat Caldwell, who serves as liaison with The Garden Club of Charleston, and with their members pitching in, we maintained the gardens around the Legare-Waring House, planting new camellias, weeding the flower beds, spreading fertilizer, and laying fresh pine straw. The underground sprinkler system in front of the House was modified to water the new camillias as necessary. Christopher’s Garden was revitalized with liriope, a new covering of mulch was applied, and the boxwood hedge was trimmed. We repaired the concrete base of the Garden, and remounted the Garden statue. Fritz and Pat also assisted during the 5 K Race the Landing Series.
Hack Ezell, Director
For the second consecutive year, the Clinic was held in Founders Hall at the Landing in advance of the 5K Race the Landing Series that began in May, 2017. A panel of exercise and health care professionals addressed an audience of individuals of all ages interested in running, cycling, swimming and other forms of vigorous physical activity. Panel presentations were followed by a question and answer session moderated by Melvin H. (“Hack”) Ezell, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Health, Exercise and Sport Science, The Citadel.
Charles Towne Landing had another exceptional year this year. Even though no new records were broken, like the previous three years in a row, the park still had its second best bottom line ever posting a self-sufficiency of 94.1% with third highest revenue year ever bringing in $1.433M. This decrease in self-sufficiency is due to a couple of reasons. The first major reason was Hurricane Matthew and the tree-work and cleanup that followed. The park closed for seven days during the peak visitation and event season of October. This effected visitation and revenue and caused minor drop offs in each. Parts of the Animal Forest closed well into December with major damage occurring to the puma habitat. We had to cancel six rentals of Legare Waring House and Founders Hall and give full refunds due to the mandatory evacuation order. Two of these events did reschedule but the economic impact was felt none-the-less. The second major reason was the cost of this years’ Adventure maintenance haul-out. It was the highest to date at $184,000. We are actively seeking feasible solutions to lessen the long-term costs of maintaining the Adventure. This current year we are looking at a possible cost of up to $224,000.
Some positive notes from the year were a busier than typical winter season. Mild weather helped the park rebound somewhat from Hurricane Matthew. Garden & Gun Jubilee was another success in December and the Animal Forest Enrichment Day in March featured a visit from the original Animal Forest design consultant Jim Fowler of Wild Kingdom fame, who cut the ribbons on the two new exhibits for Bald Eagle and Elk. Both of which were rescues needing a new permanent home. We added a new entryway pergola to the Animal Forest with the donation of $17,500 to the Friends from Waring family descendant Armand Derfner. Another donation to the park from the friends Race the Landing monies built secondary containment fencing around the bobcat holding area completed in June. Other Race monies were allocated to an Animal Forest restroom renovation and $20,000 to Animal Forest food and veterinary care after a successful 2017 Race series. We hope to complete the Animal Forest restroom renovation this winter. We also had another successful Founders’ Day festival and a great Volunteer/Employee appreciation event happened in April.
We had a few staffing changes this year with the resignation of Maintenance Supervisor Brent Wilson and Events Coordinator Lee Blakely and the retirement of Administrative Assistant Jeannie Ramsey. New maintenance supervisor is Jason Walker, Events Coordinator is Courtney Huggins, and Administrative Asst. is Beth Byrnes. (Since the close of the year the Events Coordinator and Admin Asst. positions have changed again but I will have to include those on next years’ report).
In large thanks to you, another successful year at Charles Towne Landing! We are still shooting for 100% self-sufficiency and barring any natural disasters or unexpected costs, Charles Towne Landing, with your help, will reach that this year!
Friends President Gary Nichols presenting the Friends’ contribution to Park Manager Rob Powell.
The following members of the Board of Directors would like to express sincere appreciation to our fellow members of the Friends who have provided such outstanding support for the policies and programs of the Friends organization. We look forward to working together to fulfill our mission of support for Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site.