An Elkhart, Ind., city councilman said he has asked a state agency to review an agreement between Elkhart and the RV Hall of Fame.
According to a report by the Associated Press, David Henke told the Elkhart Truth that he has sent a copy of the pact to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for review. He contends that the agreement should have been approved by the city council rather than the city’s board of public works.
RV Hall of Fame officials had stopped paying the city its compact fee for utility service several years ago, claiming it should be exempt due to its nonprofit status, the newspaper reported. Over the years, the hall accumulated a $115,000 debt with the city.
Under the deal negotiated by Mayor Dick Moore, the city forgave the debt and gave the hall a discounted rate on the compact fee in return for the hall’s agreement to resume making regular payments. Under the new deal, the hall will pay about half what it was billed before.
“In my opinion, this was our only option,” Moore told the Truth. “It was (either) do something to get them paying again or disconnect the service, close them down and get nothing.”
The hall didn’t return a call from the Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.
The city’s board of works approved the deal on Nov. 20, one day after the council voted against the mayor’s proposal to give similar discounts to other nonprofit groups. Some council members were critical of the deal while it was being negotiated a few months ago, but they didn’t take any formal action to stop it.
Henke said he thinks the city council should have had a final say on the deal because the fee revenues go into a fund that it controls. The newspaper said the deal came to the board of works because it was a utility issue, but the council set the fee rates by ordinance.
The fees are currently based on assessed value of property, and Henke said they should instead be based on usage. Moore said the fee policy is under review.
Henke claimed Moore doesn’t work closely enough with the council and acts unilaterally instead.
“This is not in the best interest of our community nor does it represent the process as depicted by Indiana Constitution,” Henke said in a statement.
Henke predicted the Indiana attorney general’s office might be asked to review the agreement.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels yesterday (Dec. 19) delivered his iconic 2004 campaign motorhome — dubbed “RV-1” — to the Heritage Foundation Inc.’s RV/MH Hall of Fame where the road-weary Damon DayBreak Class A will be on display for the foreseeable future while on loan from the Indiana State Museum.
Daniels, who will step away at the first of the year from his elected position to assume the presidency of Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., drove north from Indianapolis with a handful of aides while TV cameras chased him in his 2003 Class A with its troubled shocks and white exterior covered with thousands of signatures of Hoosier constituents who helped the moderate Republican win election in 2004 and again in 2008.
The drive from Indianapolis up north to Elkhart was for Daniels, he confided in his brief remarks at the Hall of Fame, somewhat of a nostalgic one as he prepares to leave office.
“We’ve just completed a very sentimental journey,” Daniels, considered a likely GOP presidential candidate early on in the recent primaries, told the assembled media. “With me on board during the last drive of RV-1 were the two still-young men who were out there with me for 16 months on the first campaign as well as the second, and Bill Oesterle, who originally came up with the idea of letting people sign it – a stroke of genius.
“So, we had a lot of laughs all the way up,” added Daniels, who’s well known for his penchant for riding motorcycles around the state. “There’s a memory and story behind almost every signature on there and every place it’s been.”
Daniels was welcomed to the Elkhart facility by Bob Martin, president and COO of Thor Industries Inc., which originally built the eight-year-old coach and sponsored a small reception at the Hall on Wednesday, and BJ Thompson, a Heritage Foundation board member who emceed the event.
On the business front, Daniels then singled out the RV industry for its leadership in helping turn around the Indiana economy, and he praised the old Damon motorhome with 58,000 miles on the odometer for the accessibility it offered him in reaching the citizenry of Indiana.
“We went into this recession with a high percentage – maybe 60-some percent – of all the RVs in the country made in Indiana,” said Daniels. “Coming out of the recession, I’m told, that total is more than 80%. What does that say? It says that we had a superior business climate and when companies were put to the test in a tough market — and forced to choose between what (plants) they were going to keep or close — almost without exception they chose Indiana. We’re so proud that this industry is centered even more here in our state than it was a few years ago.
“And if Thor ever needs a personal testimonial for the quality of their products, I’m their man,” said Daniels, adding that people constantly ask him about RV-1 more than they ask him about himself. “We took old Bessie here on trips it was never really designed for. We took it on dirt roads, gravel roads, one-lane covered bridges. There were no leisure cruises for RV-1, but it stood up. We were marveling on the way up, although the shocks are pretty much gone, how well she was still running. It’s a high quality product. That’s the way I know you build them up here.”
The Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC) honored RV/MH Hall of Fame’s Darryl Searer, president, and Tom McNulty, vice president, with its “Citizen of the Year” award. The ceremonies took place at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel during the IMHA-RVIC Annual Christmas Party and Awards Banquet on Dec. 7.
According to a press release, the awards were based on Searer’s and McNulty’s successful efforts to bring the RV/MH Hall of Fame back from the brink of financial disaster to the doorway of a bright future and opportunity.
McNulty accepted the awards on behalf of himself and Searer, who was unable to attend the awards presentation.
McNulty said, “Both Darryl and I thank you for this award and this great recognition. One of the wonderful things about an award like this is that it was totally unexpected, and I believe that makes it even more meaningful.”
McNulty was quick to point out to the audience that much of the Hall’s success has been through the concerted effort of the board and a dedicated, professional team.
He said, “Initially, the team consisted of Al Hesselbart, Charlene McNulty, Susan Weaver, me and a great group of volunteers. We were joined in April by our new captain and president, Darryl Searer, whom you honor tonight, and our newest team member, Stacey Walworth.”
Earlier this year, the Hall faced a financial crisis that threatened to cause the board of directors to make the difficult decision that would have resulted in closing the Hall facility and selling off its assets, including the building. During this period, McNulty worked unceasingly to keep the Hall’s doors open.
But that all changed in April when Searer, semi-retired chairman of Ultra-Fab Products Inc., volunteered with no compensation to accept the position of president and COO.
“I know of no one other than Darryl who had the ability through his business experience, knowledge of the players involved and his love of the RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum that could have made the team function so smoothly,” noted McNulty. “It was through his leadership and business sense that we have substantially lowered our debt and now hold our destiny in our own hands. It’s a marvelous feeling being able to sleep better with the knowledge that the future of the Hall, the gem of our industry, is finally secure.”
Thor Industries Inc. and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will be hosting a media event Dec, 19 at the RV/MH Hall of Fame as Daniels donates the Damon Class A motorhome used during his 2004 campaign.
Dubbed RV-1, the coach bears the signatures of residents from all of Indiana’s 92 counties. The motorhome will become part of the Hall’s permanent display.
The proceedings get under way with a meet-and-greet with Gov. Daniels at 2:30 p.m. The presentation of the motorhome is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. followed by a light reception and tours of RV-1.
Greg Boyd, president of NTP Distribution Inc., presented a check on behalf of the company for $1,250 to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s fund raiser during a ceremony at the NTP booth at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
After previously donating $2,500, NTP came up with an innovative idea to benefit the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s even further, according to a press release.
The idea was to purchase a $250 brick on the Hall’s walk of fame on behalf of RV dealers that obtained a minimum buying level of products. To sweeten the deal, Jay Hesse, president of Blue Ox, offered to upgrade the dealer’s brick to the larger $500 brick for dealers who made a minimum purchasing level through NTP of Blue Ox products.
The Hall previously announced that the proceeds from the Brick Program would count toward the Hall’s fund raisers.
The resulting promotion by NTP resulted in raising an additional $2,250 to the Hall’s fund raiser.
Below is a summary of donations:
Hall President Darryl Searer while accepting the contribution noted, “It continues to amaze me how companies come up with innovative ideas to help the Hall reduce its debt. Besides individual contributions, the Boots Ingram Family’s Challenge grants, our Peer Challenge Program and now NTP’s Brick Promotion idea, has had a very positive impact on the Hall’s effort to pay off its bank loan.
“It’s no secret that the Hall was in jeopardy of closing its doors a year ago, but through the generosity of many individuals and companies, the Hall has been able to survive and is on a path to recovery.”
Searer pointed out that the bank loan to 1st Source Bank has gone from $840,000 in early 2012 to only about $200,000 now.
The current fundraiser is the “Burn the Bank Note” campaign with a goal of raising $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30, 2013, to be matched by the Robert “Boots” Ingram family, which has offered a $50,000 challenge grant, and that $200,000 would pay off the Hall’s bank note to 1st Source Bank.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible. Donors can use our federal ID#: 35-1610362 to verify that they are a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the IRS.
Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s web site: www.rvmhhalloffame.org.”
Mike McKay, vice president of RV and trailer, CURT Manufacturing LLC, presented a check for $5,000 to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s “Burn the Bank Note” fundraiser campaign during a ceremony at the RV/MH Hall of Fame’s booth at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. “We are delighted with CURT Manufacturing’s decision to accept the Peer Challenge from Jay Hesse, president of Blue Ox,” said Hall President Darryl Searer. “With CURT’s contribution, it means that Blue Ox’s donation has doubled, and furthermore, CURT Mfg. can now challenge other peers to match their donation.”
Hesse, who also serves on the Hall’s executive committee as vice chairman, proposed the Peer Challenge program after making his donation. “I want to personally thank Mike and CURT Manufacturing for accepting the Blue Ox challenge,” he said. “I always believed that there are a lot of companies and individuals in the RV and manufactured housing industries that would support the Hall if asked, and CURT Manufacturing’s donation reinforces that belief.”
Searer added, “When that request to help support the Hall comes from a friend or colleague in these industries, especially ones that believed in the Hall enough to contribute themselves, I think it adds integrity and substance to the request.”
McKay noted, “Those of us at CURT Mfg. believe it is important to give back to the industries we serve. Personally, I can think of few worthier causes than the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, an organization that not only celebrates and preserves our heritage and honors those individuals who helped make our industries successful, but also, the Hall itself presents a very positive image to the general public about our products and services.
“When we received Jay’s challenge, it wasn’t a difficult decision for our CEO Greg Hooks to make. He was pleased to help in what he believes is a worthy cause and an opportunity to give something back.”
The goal of the Burn the Bank Note campaign is to raise $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30, 2013, to be matched by the Robert “Boots” Ingram family, which has offered a $50,000 challenge grant. The $200,000 would pay off the Hall’s bank note to 1st Source Bank.
The RV/MH Heritage Foundation is a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation, all donations are tax deductible. Donors can use our federal ID#: 35-1610362.to verify that we are a 501-c3 not-for-profit corporation in good standing with the IRS. Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s web site at www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
Jay Hesse, president of Blue Ox, has donated $5,000 to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, Inc.’s current “Burn the Bank Note” campaign for its Elkhart, Ind.-based RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum.
According to a press release, Hesse, who also serves on the Hall’s executive committee as vice chairman, proposed to Hall President Darryl Searer an idea designed to reach the “Burn the Bank Note” challenge even sooner. Hesse’s idea is what he describes as a “Peer Challenge.”
The “Peer Challenge program” works like this: Once a company or individual makes a contribution of $1,000 or more, they could challenge up to three other companies. The challenger would go to the Hall’s website and enter a few lines of information about the company or individual they intend to challenge. The web program then generates and sends a personalized, detailed e-mail informing them that they have been challenged to match the donation.
Hesse believes a company should challenge others in their own industry and market segment. In other words, an RV supplier would challenge another RV supplier, a manufacturer another manufacturer, a distributor a distributor or an individual would challenge another individual.
Hesse said, “The challenged company or individual basically has three choices. First, and ideally, to match the challenger’s donation; second, contribute a different amount either greater than or less than the original challenger’s donation and start a new challenge; or finally, ignore the challenge, which we hope they will not do. If they match the challenge or start a new challenge then they would challenge others. This bicycling effect could result in more donations and be a huge benefit to the Hall.”
Searer said, “This is a great idea. Jay’s Peer Challenge program should help us achieve our goal much quicker. I’ve learned since becoming president of the Hall that people in both the RV and manufactured housing industries are generous and would be happy to make a contribution if asked. And the ‘Peer Challenge’ makes it easy to ask.”
The goal is to raise $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30, 2013, to be matched by the Robert “Boots” Ingram family, which has offered a $50,000 challenge grant, and that $200,000 would pay off the Hall’s bank note to 1st Source Bank.
Tax-deductible gifts, adds Searer, may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s web site at www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame has just launched a new independent website, www.northernindianaeventcenter.org, dedicated to promoting the Northern Indiana Event Center, according to Darryl Searer, president of the Hall.
The Hall recently announced it is doing business as the Northern Indiana Event Center as well as the RV/MH Hall of Fame, and branding the south entrance of its complex as the Northern Indiana Event Center.
“We have two distinct functions,” said Searer in a press release. “One is to promote the heritage and honor the leaders and founders of the RV/MH industries through the Hall of Fame, museum and library; and the other is an event center where organizations and groups can rent the facilities for shows, group meetings and events such as company parties and wedding receptions.”
Stacey Walworth, the Event Center’s new event marketing manager, supervised the development of the new website.
“I believe our new site will be a great benefit for us as we continue our efforts to market the Northern Indiana Event Center as the ideal place in the Michiana area for all sorts of meetings and events,” Walworth said.
She pointed out that until now, those companies and individuals looking for a place to hold their events had to go to the Hall’s website and wade through all the features of the Hall of Fame, library and museum to find information on the Event Center.
She noted, “Now, with a web site totally focused on the Event Center, all the information is together and easily navigated so prospective customers can find the information they are looking for quickly and easily.”
The website has areas dedicated to event planners, exhibitors and attendees.
Elkhart, Ind.-based Ultra-Fab Products Inc. has donated $2,500 to the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s “Burn the Bank Note” Challenge campaign, the latest drive by the RV/MH Hall of Fame to pay off its bank loan to 1st Source Bank by April 30, 2013.
“We believe as responsible citizens of the RV industry and Elkhart area we have an obligation to support charitable causes which contribute the prestige of the industry and the community,” Ultra-Fab President Craig Searer said in a press release.” I cannot think of a more worthy cause than the RV/MH Hall of Fame. As suppliers of products to the RV and other industries, we have enjoyed much success, and this is our way of giving back to the industry that has been so good to us.”
The “Burn the Bank Note” challenge is a result of the Robert “Boots” Ingram family’s offer of a $50,000 challenge grant for the purpose of paying off the Hall’s note to 1st Source Bank – provided friends of the Hall can raise $150,000 in voluntary contributions by April 30, 2013. At that time the bank note through normal payments will be down to $201,000.
This new challenge follows the recent “Ingram Family $100,000 Challenge,” where the Hall raised more that $171,000, and with the Ingram’s $100,000 grant was able to substantially lower its bank loan.
At the beginning of the $100,000 challenge, the bank balance was $828,000. That was reduced by the end of August to $283,113. This total of $544,887 was the sum of the $271,000 plus $273,887 that came from the regular payments plus additional cash flow from other pledges already in existence.
Searer challenged other companies and individuals that have enjoyed success in the RV and manufactured housing industries to follow Ultra-Fab’s example and contribute what they can afford to help the Hall meet this latest challenge.
Tax-deductible gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694, or through the Hall’s web site: www.rvmhhalloffame.org.
On the heels of a successful five-month $100,000 Challenge Grant from the Ingram family raising more than $170,000 through contributions for the RV/MH Hall of Fame, the Ingrams have issued another challenge.
According to a press release, Tony Ingram said the family is offering to donate an additional $50,000 in the form of another challenge grant if the Hall of Fame can raise $150,000 through voluntary donations by April 30, 2013.
The Ingrams’ first challenge contributed more than $270,000. This, along with other savings, helped the Hall reduce its bank loan from $828,000 down to $283,000. This new fundraiser is being dubbed, “Burn the Bank Note” challenge.
“With normal monthly payments our 1st Source Bank loan balance at the end of April 2013 will be down to $201,000,” said Hall of Fame President and CEO Darryl Searer. “If we are able to meet the Ingram family’s $50,000 challenge by raising $150,000, we will be able to retire that debt and burn the bank note.”
In January 2012, the future of the Hall was in doubt because of its financial burdens. Searer, who came on board as the Hall’s uncompensated president and CEO, believed that the Hall was too important to the RV and manufactured housing industries, and the Elkhart, Ind. area. Since that time through a series of discussions with debt holders and fundraisers, the Hall today is on solid financial ground and its future is bright.
“Our work isn’t done,” Searer added. “We still have some challenges but now we control our own destiny. We will be able to meet our obligations and can assure friends and skeptics alike that the Hall will survive for many years to come.”
He added, “The real heroes responsible for this turnaround are the hundreds of friends of the Hall who have opened their hearts and pocketbooks because they also believe the Hall is the shining star of the RV and MH industries. And near the top of the list of our heroes is the Ingram family that continues to show their support for the Hall. Their generosity in making this latest challenge should inspire everyone concerned about the long-range health of our wonderful facility to pitch in and help.”
Gifts may be made by mail, in person at the Hall, by phone at (800) 378-8694 or on the Hall’s web site, www.rvmhhalloffame.org. Since the foundation is 501c non-profit organization, all gifts are tax deductible.
To make a contribution by mail, send your gift by check or money order to: Burn the Bank Note Challenge, RV/MH Hall of Fame, 21565 Executive Parkway, Elkhart, IN 46514.