Welcome to TEHA!
President Message by Russell O'Brien

 

                                                Hello TEHA members!

 Hello TEHA members! 

I have so many things to say and so little time and space to say it! 

The last few months have been really busy with a lot of different items. I’m sure many of you are busy too and hope you were able to take advantage of our extension of the awards applications and got your name on the ballot. I know it seems like there are never enough hours in the day, but believe me… it takes all of us to make our association great and would welcome you to serve! Elections for officers on the Governing Council are coming up soon. There are 2 candidates running for second vice president and 4 running for the 2 three year at large council positions. All of these candidates are more than qualified to carry out the duties of the respective offices and deserve a couple of minutes of your time to vote. Historically only about 25% of the membership take the time to vote, let's see if we can't improve that percentage this year. It takes all of about 5 minutes of your busy day to vote. 

The members of your Governing Council have been busy this last quarter. First Ben Stobnicki and his AEC Committee have managed to already complete the agenda for this year's AEC. It has really shaped up to be a spectacular event. Take a look at the agenda on the website. A couple of things to take note, there are 2 half day pre-conference events on Monday, October 22nd and 2 all day events on Tuesday. OSSF is all day Tuesday and Training for Excellence by Dr, Joe Serio is the other event. If you have never seen Joe, you are in for a treat. The Council has voted to retain Joe as an Image Consultant and Trainer for the next year and the contract includes one all day session with each chapter. The Gulf Coast Chapter did a session last November with him and the membership was so impressed that they are doing it again next November. Joe will be advising TEHA on ways to promote our organization and our professions. Joe will also be our motivational speaker for the General Opening Session on Wednesday. 

The next big change for this year's AEC is the Whova event app for your smart phones. This app will let you personalize your agenda and give you notifications and has interactive maps. It will have speaker information and highlight sponsors and vendors. It includes participant engagement and networking with instant announcements, live polling, a bulletin board, photo sharing, speaker and attendee profiles, private instant messaging and business card scanning and exchanging. It should bring the AEC into the 21st century. I just returned from the NEHA AEC in California where they used a similar event app and even with my technology challenged abilities I found it to be a valuable tool and easy to use. 

Within the next few months you should see some changes in TEHA's website, some will be functionality and others will be changes in layout and appearance. We are looking to release the website in the next few weeks. We are hoping that it will provide better access and details to our events and news to benefit our members. 

The by-laws committee is in the process of revising TEHA's Mission Statement so that it will include other professions in the Environmental Health fields. The revisions in the by-laws will include job descriptions and responsibilities for everyone on the council, from the executive director down to the chapter presidents and will include the addition of a treasurer. These job descriptions will better enable the council to make annual evaluations of the Executive Director less subjective and based on the actual written job description. 

A year ago last January, council voted to have a comprehensive financial audit performed for the year 2015. Three members were asked to investigate and interview CPA firms to perform this audit and make their recommendations to the council. These three members were Lisa Pomroy, Ginger Shaffer, and Renee Witherspoon and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work. Based on their recommendations the council elected to use Jerry Hill with Blue & Co. Stevan Walker, 2nd Vice President has been the liaison with the CPA firm and while we provided all the financial details-their company has decided to close the Lubbock office and had not completed the audit prior to the closing. So, we are in the process of retaining the next CPA firm and as soon as the audit is complete we will release that information. 

On a more serious note, a couple of months ago Victor Baldovinos and I both contacted the IRS to check the status of the Form 1023-Request for Reinstatement as a non-profit, tax exempt entity. To all of our surprises, we were told that they had no record of the 1023 nor the reinstatement fee ever being received by them. We had been told that Melvin Eaker had filed and mailed it last October. We were also informed that the check for the reinstatement fee had never cleared the bank. The Executive Board met until late at night the night before the April 13th Council meeting to see what our alternatives were. There was a unanimous consensus that the services of Melvin Eaker needed to be terminated and that the copy of the Form 1023 we have, needed to be resubmitted along with a new check for the fee. Victor Baldovinos and I have never had any contact with Melvin Eakers. He has never returned a phone call nor responded to an email, so for almost 2 years now we have been in the dark concerning his work for TEHA. We also made arrangements through other channels to file an extension for 2017 taxes. The Council unanimously voted the next morning on these recommendations and I was tasked to find a CPA with no relationship to any TEHA member to complete these tasks. 

Since that time I have spent many hours on the phone with the IRS following up and asking questions. On May 23rd they showed no record of receiving to 1023, yet on June 6th they informed me that they received the 1023 on May 4th, however, it was returned along with the check for the reinstatement fee because it was on an outdated form and needed to be submitted on the current form. It has since been resubmitted on the correct form. 

Make no assumptions that we are being complacent on getting this behind us. This issue has become a number one priority for myself and the council and we are working diligently to bring this issue to completion. I interviewed three CPA firms that specialize in tax exempt, non-profit organizations. These firms were chosen from a Google search and are all in different cities, so there should be no place for accusations of collusion of any type from any member. This was a purely random search.The last CPA I interviewed was Cynthia Cox with Cox & Associates. My conversation with Cynthia lasted almost an hour and a half and was extremely informative. She completely blew me away with her knowledge of non-profit, tax exempt organizations and the IRS regulations concerning them. The best part was that she was willing to work with TEHA to get everything cleared up with the IRS. A conference call was scheduled with the executive board and Ms. Cox and after the call I scheduled an electronic vote to retain Cox & Associates and the motion unanimously passed in favor of retaining. 

I am pleading with all members to remain calm and not start placing blame or point fingers at anyone or anything else at this time. For the good of TEHA, we don't need any disruptions or distractions on this matter, as it would most likely delay the process. In time we will most likely be able to determine how and why it has happened and deal with the issue at that time. Right now the utmost importance is getting caught up and getting reinstated and remain that way.

As founding father John Dickinson stated in his pre-Revolutionary War song "The Liberty Song", first published in the Boston Gazette in July 1768. Dickinson wrote: "Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!" Not only did that apply then but still does to this day. 

For now thank you for being a member of TEHA and bless you all! 

 

Russell O'Brien RS