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USHWA Holds Successful Annual Meetings

Published: March 1, 2021 9:12 am ET

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The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing’s leading group of industry communicators, held its annual Directors and Membership meetings on Feb. 20 and 21 virtually using the Zoom technology, as the group’s annual “weekend” including these meetings and culminating in the Dan Patch Awards banquet had to be cancelled due to the health pandemic.

Dan Patch award winners were honoured through a virtual “Dan Patch Awards” program before a Saturday night card at The Meadowlands in January. That effort was chaired by Gordon Waterstone, and was brought to fruition largely through the efforts of Jason Settlemoir, Jeff Gural, and many members of The Meadowlands’ communications office. The show was watched through The Meadowlands’ signal, and through a number of USHWA and other social media platforms, which generated much viewing and engagement.

The loss of the Dan Patch Awards Banquet will mean that USHWA will not make a profit in 2021, since the sponsorships and Souvenir Journal ads, the main sources of USHWA income, will not be available. However 2021’s situation comes after five straight years of profit for the organization, during which it doubled its cash position, largely through the efforts of Barry Lefkowitz, Tom Hicks, and others.

The transition of the meetings from “live” to “virtual” was a long and difficult process, but the end result was a generally-positive process in which 26 Directors and over 70 members took part. Credit for much of the needed research and co-ordination goes to USHWA president Kim Rinker, host of the meetings, and meetings’ facilitator Debbie Little.

The annual process of discussing and voting on changes to the association’s By-Laws and Rules and Regulations was orderly this year, whereas in some years there was long and heated debate on some topics. Voters expressed their views through discussion and then through the Zoom system’s voting capacity, and after amendments, all of the changes passed by a large margin.

Elections of officers were held during the Membership meeting. Kim Rinker, administrator of the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund, was returned as USHWA President. Kim French, editor of the United States Trotting Association’s Hoof Beats magazine, was elected to the Vice President post. USHWA Immediate past president Shawn Wiles, executive director of Racing/Facilities at Monticello Raceway, remained Chairman of the Board by USHWA by-law. Bill MacDonald, controller of a Maine construction firm and a leading disseminator of Maine harness racing information for many years, received the nod as USHWA’s treasurer. Jerry Connors, freelance writer and a member of the Communicators Hall of Fame, was voted secretary for the 20th consecutive year.


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