Call to Order: President Steve Pellinen called the meeting to order at 6:38 pm CST.
Attending: Steve Pellinen, Keith Hagel, Jan Cardia, Helen Flores, Will Anderson, Laurie Cohen, Bennett Jacobstein.
1. WGPO Visibility and Website update – Steve said talked with Charles and Thomas Reinke and is happy with the work they have completed: membership system improvements, website visual revamp and expanded statistical features. They will continue with their updates and plan to demonstrate the site in the near future.
Steve noted that WGPO will pay the Reinkes a nominal fee for their services.
Board members then discussed WGPO logo branding. Will said Conrad would do so for a very nominal fee. Will and Conrad will pitch ideas to Scopely as well.
2. Shreve donation Funds/Word Cup: Board members discussed whether or not to increase the estimated Shreve amount to be allocated to Word Cup prizes this year. In January, the Board approved using $50,000 total of those funds, allocating $10,000 each for TWL and Collins 1st place prizes from that total. Members declined a suggestion to increase total Word Cup to $60,000, making each top prize $15,000 from the Shreve funds. Members followed by listing other needs for funds – other tournaments, youth Scrabble. Note: Winter donated $1,000 Collins top prize. Additional individual or group, as earmarked, could increase prize funds.
3. Reimbursing Word Cup Directors/Staff: Board members noted that Tournament Directors volunteer time and also incur expenses, especially for larger tourneys. WGPO could either provide a per diem payment to Word Cup Directors or reimburse expenses. The per diem option entails more complex recordkeeping and tax accounting. The Board agreed to reimburse expenses for Lynda Finn and Mike Johnson and Steve Pellinen for Word Cup 2022. Board members considered director costs incurred, especially for multi-day tournaments. As we plan regional tournaments, WGPO may need to import Directors and – at a minimum – reimburse their travel, meal and lodging expenses. Board members discussed the importance of directors to the organization. At a minimum they should be able to recoup expenses.
4. WGPO/CoCo Relationship: The Board discussed differences between WGPO and CoCo. While the CoCo organization’s mission is to grow Collins lexicon usage, WGPO as an organization supports whatever lexicon(s) its members democratically adopt. Some WGPO members, including Board members, belong to both organizations. Both organizations are working to increase support and visibility for Scrabble. Coordinated events such as Word Cup serve those purposes.
5. Phoenix tourney financial assistance – Larry Rand and Barbara VanAlen retired as long-time directors of the popular Phoenix tournament. Bennett Jacobstein stepped in this year. Bennett identified high venue expenses and fewer than anticipated players attending. As a result, the budget will allow only about 60% of entry fees for prize funds. Board members noted that, when possible, WGPO tournaments have returned 100% of entry fees in prize funds. For Phoenix, $1,500 additional would mean returning 80% in prize money to player.
Action: The Board unanimously approved providing $1,500 to help fund the Phoenix tournament (Jan Cardia/Steve Pellinen).
6. Finances: Steve reported that discrepancies in the 2021 General Ledger were found and corrected. Everything is balanced and accurate and can be used with confidence for yearend reports and returns.
Current year through January is balanced, and Steve provided the Board with an example consolidated report. Going forward, he plans to publish standard financial reports (Balance Sheet, Income Statement) on a quarterly basis for anyone to review. He will also provide specific reports as needed.
Steve summarized efforts with PayPal. They have not yet granted his request for WGPO status as a nonprofit company in order to slightly reduce service fees. He will continue to try to resolve issues.
7. Insurance – Steve received quotes for General Liability Insurance and Directors and Officers Insurance in the amounts of $1,512.00 and $602.00 per year, respectively. However, this does not cover our chapter locations around the country, and nothing in Canada. Steve needs to clarify our operations to the underwriters. He will continue to pursue this.
8. Gene’s Tyszka Supplies: Gene Tyszka (GeneTimer) is donating timers – Scrabble clocks – and boards to WGPO. He is also selling surplus materials to make boards. Action: Members unanimously approved Steve’s recommendation to provide $400 to purchase 100 plastic Board grids and other Board supplies. Gene will send them with the donated materials.
9. School Scrabble: Steve and Will reported on the state of affairs for School Scrabble. Steve was invited to meet with Stefan Fatsis, Will Anderson and Caroline Henley. That group (and Cornelia Guest and Ben Greenwood) are planning to hold a School Scrabble championship with 100 -120 players at Planet Word Museum in Washington D.C. the weekend of April 22, 2022.
Scopely would like to support the Planet Word activity but is a licensee of Hasbro, therefore must await Hasbro’s plans. Will provided School Scrabble background, NASPA past involvement, Hasbro relationship, and resources needed for success.
The WGPO Board discussed possible WGPO involvement this year, including funding assistance, tournament staff and/or directing. Will and Steve emphasized that Planet Word D.C. organizers need financial support to help with event expenses.
Steve will contact Planet Word organizers to discuss their initiatives and needs.
Action: The Board unanimously approved allocating up to $10,000 WGPO funds to help with expenses for the Planet Word event.
NOTE: Board members discussed appointing a WGPO committee focused on school Scrabble, perhaps modeled on the Philly program that Caroline runs through an organization called ASAP (After School Activities Programs). It includes hundreds of kids in all grades playing Scrabble. WGPO would hope to benefit from and coordinate with those who have experience and teaching materials, rather than try to start a Youth Scrabble initiative from scratch.
10. Tournament schedule strategy – Bennett surveyed WGPO directors and found very few planning to hold larger tournaments. Laurie noted that additional WGPO support for directors is a factor for her to reconsider plans. Recent WGPO actions should encourage more tournament planning. The Board’s recent announcement offering up to $2,000 to offset unexpected loss of revenue from last minute cancellations is another sign of dedicated support. Offering to reimburse expenses and/or import in director help is another effective step. Bennett was encouraged to continue plans to identify regional tournament locations and venues.
11. Word Cup 11 location: In previous years, the Board announced the next year’s site at the Word Cup. When Chicago was selected for Word Cup 2019 (postponed until 2022), planners suggested Albuquerque a subsequent location. However, no action to determine Word Cup 2023 has been taken. Board members agreed that determining the next Word Cup event is a high priority.
12. Additional Agenda Items: The meeting adjourned before the following topics were discussed:
* Messages or announcements for the membership. Should we have a vetting process?
* WGPO lexicon – time to get moving on it? – Bennett
* Rules Committee: RC members on site for authoritative second opinions?
13. Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at 8:35 pm CST (Motion: Helen Flores/Laurie Cohen).
Helen Flores, Secretary