Goodbye to Grafton

Blacksmith offers some parting shots about the Windham Foundation and its spending priorities

GRAFTON — As the soon-to-be former director of Grafton Forge and as a resident of Grafton, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to my fellow residents, numerous visitors, students, and others who have always demonstrated to me the true nature and spirit of community. Much great good has been done here.

I have had the honor to serve you in my capacity as blacksmith and educator, as president of the Grafton Valley Arts Guild, and as president of the Grafton Promotional Association. I've entertained you with my annual Holly Folly benefit performances and have been honored to march with my fellow veterans in our annual Memorial Day parade.

Sadly, my contractual arrangement with the Windham Foundation ends May 31, and it will not be renewed, owing to the poor financial health of the Windham Foundation.

While true that the Foundation is in financial straits - a situation that itself I think reflects its own ineptitude and mismanagement - I believe that the real reason for the dismissal of me, along with many others representing the Foundation's best and brightest, is that we requested that its leaders remain faithful to the organization's mission statement and that we questioned their spending priorities.

My point of contention was simply: How is it ethical for trustees to skim more than a quarter million dollars per annum as compensation for themselves while refusing to fund their own educational programs and to perform routine maintenance on their properties, while cutting employee benefits, hours, salaries, and pensions, and not providing a single raise in pay in over five years?

If one looks at the Foundation's IRS form 990, it is easy to see just where and to whom the money is going.

While many of the charities are truly worthy, the majority are pork-barrel gifts to the distant hometowns of trustees, which is money that should be spent supporting the foundation's mission in Grafton, which now, sadly, has the appearance of a ghost town.

I am truly sorry to be forced from town - just another casualty of a petty vindictive martinet and an inept, absentee, rubber-stamp board.

I received news of the termination of my contract from the CEO via email. I believe a gentleman would have informed me in person.

The numerous eliminations of positions at the Windham Foundation are not personnel matters, they are personal matters. It is my fond hope that the Foundation returns to its mission and senses.

The thinking of the Windham Foundation's leaders is backward: we are not guests in their town, they are guests in ours, and they should behave accordingly.

If they don't, then they should realize they wore out their welcome long ago, and they should pack up and leave.

Grafton survived and, yes, thrived long before these people came here uninvited, and it will survive and thrive long after they are gone.

Again, my sincere and eternal gratitude to the good people of this town and its surrounds. I promise to return and visit often, support you in whatever manner I am able, and look forward to happier days.

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