Saturday 12 March 2005

Partners and Members,

I would like to report on the success of my trip to Washington, DC to represent the River Navigation Coalition, Upper Monongahela River Association and Boaters Are Voters at the National Waterways Conference and to lobby our Senators and Congressional Representatives on behalf of efforts to improve appropriations for the year 2006 budget for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and general support for waterways improvements and maintenance.

The Conference was well attended by members of the commercial water transportation industry and representatives of Port Authorities, waterways shippers and hydro-electric interests. I was the only attendee representing the interests of Recreational Boating.

I was honored to be asked by Conference President, Worth Hager, to address this group from the podium and present my points of view about the sharing of our navigational waterways with commercial interests and partnering with them for our mutual benefits.

My talk was well received and I had many of the attendees come up to me after my speech and ask for information about our objectives, request hand-out information, and promise cooperation in mutual interests.

At the morning sessions of the Conference, talks and presentations were made by a number of knowledgeable and influential leaders of the commercial waterways organizations, a two star general from the Corps of Engineers, a top aide to one of the supporting United States Senators, and Worth Hagar, president of the National Waterways Conference who brought us all up to date on their efforts to achieve Congressional support for all Waterways projects.

Following the morning seminars, the afternoons were spent on Capitol Hill, visiting the offices of the Senators and Congressional Representatives, passing out all the available propaganda related to our needs and desires, answering questions and inviting key staff personnel to attend a reception wherein additional matters could be discussed over a buffet dinner and cocktails. I invited everyone that I talked with to come to the reception and it was well attended. The caterer informed the staff that provisions for an originally estimated 150 people had to be revised upwards to 250. I think I invited half of the additional 100 people who attended. Congressmen and their staffs attended as did many generals and top officers from the Corps of Engineers and all of the commercial interest people.

You can make a business visit to a Congressman at his office and make some headway, but invite him to a party and discuss your plans over mutual cocktails and you get several steps farther along the road with your program. He remembers better under the casual atmosphere of the reception. (Unless he has too much to drink) but that didn't happen here.

There is a Starbucks Coffee store directly across from the Washington hotel and the day I arrived in Washington, patrons were sitting at sidewalk tables at the outdoor cafe, dressed only in shirtsleeves and enjoying the 70 degree sunny weather. Next morning, when I awoke and looked over from my hotel room window, those same outdoor tables and chairs were covered with 2 or 3 inches of snow and a bitter cold wind was blowing everything around with a vengeance. I couldn't believe this drastic change in the weather that had just occurred overnight. All you needed to do to get someone talking was mention the weather.

I am pleased with the reception that I received in the offices of all four Senators, Byrd and Rockefeller of West Virginia and Santorum and Specter of Pennsylvania, and the Congressional Representatives offices were equally responsive. I particularly thanked Congressman Murtha of Pennsylvania and Congressman Mollohan of West Virginia for their past support and assistance. Within the constraints of time that I had available, I passed out propaganda to Congressional Aides at other offices along my pathway and invited all of them to attend the above mentioned reception.

In my opinion, the trip went off well and the basic goals were accomplished. The highlight of the trip, for me, was being asked to share the same podium that had been used by a member of the President's Cabinet, a two star general and a top aide to a prominent Senator, being able to address the same group of people that they did, and get my message across to sympathetic support.

I'm pleased with the results of the Washington, DC trip.

Sincerely yours,

Captain George