A heartwarming Veterans Day evening ceremony at Florida’s beautiful St. Augustine Lighthouse honoring America’s military men and women opened the first of four regional National Maritime Heritage Education Seminars titled, “So you want to own a lighthouse?”
Although only water and soft drinks were served, the atmosphere quickly become intoxicating with the mingling of a geographically diverse crowd of lighthouse people who were stirred by the opening ceremonies and a warm welcome from the staff of the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse.
The National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (NHLPA) of 2000 was the linchpin for what turned out to be a week of highly intensive and in-depth seminars with individual sessions on grant writing, establishing a board, fund raising, managing volunteers, retail operations, and the future of NHLPA after the attempt by one congressman to stop the NHLPA from taking due course with the transfer of ownership of North Carolina’s Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
The conference started with a presentation by Leray McBay of GSA who explained the process leading up to the availability of a lighthouse being put up for adoption under NHLPA. This was followed up by Dan Smith, special assistant to the director of the National Park Service, who was forced to spend the bulk of his presentation time discussing contretemps over Currituck Lighthouse. Smith conceded that Congressman Jones’ efforts to end run the NHLPA with covert legislation and other means at his disposal as a member of Congress was thwarted by the massive amounts of publicity which led to volumes of e-mails and letters to various government officials. He emphasized that although this situation was finally overcome, the battle was not won without leaving wounds and it could happen again elsewhere unless amended legislation is added to NHLPA.
Throughout the week the attendees learned from the experiences of others with a wide range of speakers that included notable lighthouse persons from around the country who shared their experiences, problems and ideas. CPAs and banks were also on hand to offer advice on how to protect the non-profits during their growth.
Future conferences and seminars will be held in Traverse City Michigan as early as this June, followed by New England and then San Francisco. The conferences have been partially underwritten by a donation of $15,000 from Harbour Lights, who also gave all attendees a retired replica of the original St. Augustine Lighthouse.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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