2,705

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Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where the verdant and eye-popping beauty of spring, now at full throttle, is almost powerful enough to keep us from fretting that we’ve run out of winter, which, we’re being warned, could mean that we’ll run out of water. To be sure, spring has brought along its customary joy, but it’s a bittersweet joy.

So, what’s all this 2,705 business? Well, that just happens to be the number of paid CBA members as of this very moment, 4:27 a.m., Thursday, April 30, 2015. We know that’s the absolutely most current number because the little “Membership:” log, (look to left column just under “NEWS”) is pulled directly from our membership database, untouched by human hands. And it’s a big, big, big deal because we’ve finally broken the twenty-seven hundred threshold!

“Noooooow, hold on here, Cornish,” I hear the old timers bristling, “I can remember back fifteen years ago when it was higher than that.” Well, yes, but mostly no. When I was elected to the board of directors back in 2000, our membership number of record, the one we’re asked for in our tax return, was right around 2,750. However, that number was derived from a 3X5 index card filing system. One of my first assignments was moving the old, manual system into an automated one, and then putting the new system on the brand new CBA web page for all the world to see. It was a bit of a sketchy migration; records were stroked into the new database, and that was all done with quality control measures built in. But the validity of the individual cards themselves, that would have to be checked later.

And three years later, after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours, Carolyn Faubel completed a check of every last 3X5 card. After purging duplicate records, records of dead people, and a big bunch more which simply didn’t reflect reality, we had a REAL membership count: 2,337. Still a quite respectable base for the Association, in fact, the largest number of members of any bluegrass organization on the planet…but still, it was 2,700 plus. UNTIL THIS MORNING! Thank you so much, Mary Runge, for maintaining the 3×5 index card membership system for so many years; thank you Kathy Kirkpatrick for agreeing to take over the Membership Vice President position when we moved to the current automated, web-based system; thanks to you, Larry Kuhn, who took over from Kathy and introduced some sorely needed operational procedures; a HUGE thank you to Carolyn Faubel, who finally got her head wrapped around the issues in the 2001 data migration and finally got us a number we could hang our hat on; thank you Bruce Campbell, who volunteered to take up the slack when Larry left, despite the fact that he was already serving as a board member, weekly columnist for the web site and Publicity Coordinator for our entire Association operation; and thanks to Larry Phegley, who serves as our current membership VP.

And we can thank two other people for this morning’s 2,705. Darby Brandli was not the CBA membership firebrand she is today until she was given access to the DB. Once that happened and she became aware of the fact that many of the best known members…the folks you see at event after event, let their memberships lapse two, five, ten, some even twelve years ago and just never got around to renewal. From that point on, Madame President has worked tirelessly re-signing these people. And finally, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Maria Nadauld, who, as her “initiation assignment” on the CBA board, took on a mass-mailing project to reach out to former members. That effort, which still continues, is responsible more than anything else for today’s victory lap.

And, of course, a final thank you to all of you, who for decades have acknowledged your inclusion in our huge bluegrass family by spending the time and effort and money to keep your membership in the California Bluegrass Association current year after year.

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