Distric 7 Officer, Jeff Wise presents the Commander's flag to Cmdr. Tom Hudson
Thank you, Bruce MacDonald, for your service as Commander of Music City Power Squadron over the last twelve months. Any trepidation I have in taking over from you is tempered by the knowledge that I'll have you around to consult. And thank you, Ken Holbert, our resident weather expert, for this lovely day today. You know when I joined this Squadron some five years ago, native Nashvillians were outnumbered by Canadians among its membership. I am only the second Nashville-born Commander, but I look forward to relying on you as my unofficial ambassadors to the many folks who have moved here and now live here by choice.
A warning on your new Commander “ your Nominating Committee first asked me to serve as Assistant Admin Officer four years ago, and I accepted that position. Since then I've served two years as the Squadron's Admin Officer, and one year as Executive Officer. The Nominating Committee has now nominated, and you as the membership of this Squadron have elected me, to be your Squadron Commander for the coming year.
Here's the warning “ I am an engineer by training and profession, and I tend to see most issues in life through that lens. Keep in mind that only two Presidents of the United States have had an engineering background, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter, and history hasn't treated either very kindly. I can also read a balance sheet about as well as I can a force vector diagram, but the human relations viewpoints are sometimes not the dominant voices in my head. So I will need to rely on you, all of you, to alert me to views that I have perhaps not heard, or if heard, I haven't realized their importance. Please don't hesitate to call me or send me an email “ sorry, but I'm not yet on Facebook, so that avenue of communication won't work.
In the coming year we face two sets of challenges, both internal to the organization and external in the national economy.
First the economy “ here in Nashville we are fortunate that the recession is not so bad as the picture painted by the national media. Perhaps because the local newspapers, radio and television stations are predominantly owned by non-local media giants, we don't get a true picture of our situation from them. The facts are that the housing market here, though down, is nowhere near as bad as that of the nation as a whole, and our unemployment rate here is lower than the rest of the country; 93.4% of Nashvillians still have jobs. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal showed only four other metropolitan areas whose economic health, as measured by unemployment rate and by housing sales prices and inventory, are better off than we are “ Dallas, Denver, Houston and Raleigh. Yet for all that, there are stresses in our local economy. While the proposed stimulus bill just passed by the Senate may cushion the fall of the economy, it is also likely to postpone its eventual recovery. There are silver linings among the dark clouds “ anyone buying a boat will find lower prices now, and fuel prices this summer will certainly be dramatically lower than last summer.
Internally, within the United States Power Squadrons, membership is falling, and there is resistance to its bureaucracy from the grassroots. We are among the minority of Squadrons holding our own in membership level. There are a few dynamic, growing Squadrons that are doing things right. One of them is Atlanta within our own District 17. Our task as a Bridge this year is to learn from them and emulate their successes.
Despite problems at the National level, the mission of the Power Squadrons is still relevant in 2009. Recreational boaters still need to be educated, and nobody does it better than us. Yes we will be teaching a number of courses to the general public, both BoatSmart and Boat Tennessee, and the various short seminars as well. And we'll conduct vessel safety checks, and host our booth at the Boat Show next January, thereby getting the word out.
But we are a club, we are Nashville's Boating Club, and we can't let the boating safety part of our mission overshadow that fact. Many of us have taken the courses we sought when we first joined, and we're sticking around for the fun part. To that end, we've scheduled an ambitious set of events and on-water activities. [link to schedule here] I would like to see all of us pick an event, take ownership of it, and make it a success. And I ask if you have your boat at a raft-up, please invite another member along as crew. Note that we now are covered under the National's insurance policy for any Squadron-sanctioned event.
We will continue to have a number of interesting speakers for our monthly General Membership Meetings. Our next one is Monday 09 March, tentatively set for the Caney Fork Fish Camp restaurant across from Opryland Hotel. I will be reading from the command diary of a newly appointed commanding officer in the backwaters of the South Pacific during WW2. For April, Christy Martin, publisher of Life on the Water magazine will share her thoughts on boating our local waters. If any of you have an idea for a good program, please let one of us on the Bridge know. And we will have a number of informal get-togethers where we can shoot the breeze; we're calling it the X Dock. If you'd like to host a session, either at your home on at a local watering hole, please speak up.
So in closing, Thank you for your support, and let's have fun this year.