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Lake Murray Power Squadron Confronts 2020 Pandemic Challenges;
Welcomes New Bridge for 2021

by P/C Debra Allen, P

Lake Murray Power Squadron hosted its Annual Meeting on 16 October 2020 as an outdoor event at Flotilla Island while observing mask and social distancing restrictions mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the weather cooperated, and a safe time was enjoyed by all.

It was good to enjoy this outdoor, lakeside event where we could safely gather to talk boating and catch up with our friends. In addition, members approved the 2021 budget with no dues increase and elected bridge officers for the coming year. Elected to lead the squadron during the 2021 Watch Year are:  (A list of 2021 Committee chairs is available online from this link or under the Member Information tab.)

  • Commander Ed Garbe, S
  • Executive Officer Mike Urquhart
  • Administrative Officer Tim Barnhill, S
  • Education Officer Mike Zafoot, AP
  • Assistant Education Officer Mike Charles, S
  • Secretary Betsy Agar, P
  • Treasurer Mel Charles
  • Assistant Treasurer Cyndi Langlois
  • Member-at-Large Tony Dodson, SN-IN
  • Member-at-Large Natalie Denning
  • Member-at-Large Kelly Turner

Lake Murray Power Squadron was able to safely host its 57th annual Change of Watch (COW) on 6 November 2020 as an in-person event at Saluda Shoals River Center. And, as  you can tell from the photo below, it takes a village.

The venue allowed social distancing for our 36 members who wore their masks to gather for this special occasion. Lake Murray’s own Past Commander and Past District 26 Commander Archie Trawick, SN was on hand to conduct the ceremonies.

Following dinner, Cdr Rick Agar commended Commander-Elect Ed Garbe for facilitating a “real” COW with a terrific meal, which was catered by Blue Marlin.

“The OD-2 has been filed and I’m out of here,” Cdr Agar said before proceeding to offer those gathered a brief overview of the many positive results the squadron had accomplished despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“It is only when I prepared the Annual Commander’s Report that I realized how much we still accomplished — like a new roof for our building and new blackout blinds so students could see the screen during our education classes. We still had a full ABC class giving new boaters a good foundation in safe boating. We had a Boat Handling class, the typical first 'advanced class' that included several Bridge members, and a Cruise Planning class that is a good introduction to USPS educational offerings.”

Before pandemic restrictions went into effect, Cdr Agar said the squadron had 40 members provide information to people at the Columbia Boat Show, with 40 members also participating in a “Soup-er Bowl” event to collect a truckload of food and supplies for donation to a local shelter. A “Ladies Bunco Night” raised funds for a local charity, and the squadron’s annual Oyster Roast brought out 60 people before COVID restrictions went into effect on 17 March restricting gatherings of more than 50 people.

Cdr Agar also cited the nine cleanup days during the year at which members worked to maintain and upgrade the squadron’s home on the lake, including repairing electrical problems and replacing bad dock boards and loose screws. “I am still amazed at the lake-side deck upgrades,” he said, noting the roof has made the deck a much nicer place to escape the sun’s heat and the occasional rain. He announced total participation in land events of 560 people, with 307 people and 90 boats participating in boating activities that included four Reference Lights Cruises three off-the-lake cruises, three cruises on Lake Murray, and two “Log Jam” raft-ups. In addition, he said there were several impromptu cruise and raft-ups on Saturdays following Flotilla Friday pot-luck outdoor gatherings at Flotilla Island.

Lake Murray was recognized at the D/26 Fall Conference with a 2020 New Member Award from USPS for recruiting 15 or more members as of July 31st. The squadron received an Honorable Mention for its 5% growth in membership in 2019 and was cited for its members having 100% participation in donating to the USPS Educational Fund. USPS awards for communications were received for the squadron’s newsletter and website. The squadron also received a D/26 First Place Award for Boating Activities, he said.

“I hope 2021 brings much more normal activity schedules but I am still proud of what our group has accomplished in this year of unprecedented challenges,” Cdr Agar said, concluding by wishing the best of luck to the new Bridge.

He then called forward his bridge, thanking them for their service and dismissing them with a gift of appreciation prior to turning the squadron over to P/D/C Trawick.

P/D/C Trawick opened his remarks talking about the “Power of One” – a past membership campaign led by our national organization. He cited squadron members who influenced him to join, become active and successfully complete advanced educational efforts. “Each of us is not just the Power of One, or just the power of our squadron, or the power of our district, but the power of the tens of thousands of USPS members,” he said. “Utilize that power, take care of your people, provide and promote the benefits of USPS membership and all will gain.”

He noted there was another “Power of One influence that without their acceptance and help most of us could not come close to the effectiveness we have. That person is your spouse. Without Sherrie’s steady hand, attention to detail, and loving tolerance, I could not be here. Thank your spouse, they give up a lot for you to be here,” he said, asking for a round of applause for spouses.

“You are a part of the best boating organization anywhere and District 26 is a leader in USPS because you make a difference,” P/D/C Trawick said before presenting D26 Cdr Jim Wilkins’ message.

In asking where to go from here, D/26 Cdr Wilkins has said he doubts the pandemic is going away any time soon. “So, first and foremost any and all of our activities must always emphasize safety and caution. As we have progressed this year our squadrons have become imaginative in keeping their memberships engaged - not an easy task. Keep in mind that on-the-water activities really can be accomplished with social distancing.”

D/26 Wilkins said that most important was to always have confidence. “Remember we are learning well how to maximize virtual interactions. Have new ideas? Don't be shy about sharing with other squadrons and the District Bridge. Success always has more than one approach,” he stated, reminding everyone to never forget the old saying that nothing tried, is nothing gained.

With that he called Commander-Elect Ed Garbe forward with LMPS First Lady Barb Garbe for the swearing-in ceremony. Once Cdr Garbe had taken the oath of office, he called forward the elected Bridge officers, with their spouses, and asked for all Committee Chairs and their spouses stand in support as those officers took their oath.

Congratulating Cdr Garbe, P/D/C Trawick turned the meeting over to him as his commander’s flag was raised.

First, Cdr Ed thanked his wife, Barb, “who has done so much for me.” He then thanked P/C and P/D/C Archie for coming to administer the swearing in ceremony for District 26. He also thanked his newly sworn in Bridge members for “stepping up to the plate.”

“I also want to thank two special people, Donna and Tony Dodson; they’re almost like family,” Cdr Ed said as he showed off a binder of information Donna prepared for him containing details of what he needs to know as commander.

Cdr Ed then summarized his three goals for the coming year.

“I would like to have more events going forward. We will need to begin cautiously to have more social events. But, at the Annual Meeting several weeks ago at the (Flotilla) Island, we were able to safely accommodate over 50 people using the building, the porch, and the grounds. Masks were worn, social distancing maintained, and food was served in an extremely sanitary fashion. Once we get through the cold weather, I believe that we will consider having more social events in a cautious manner,” he said.

Second, he said, “I’ve only been a member here for three years, but I keep seeing the same faces even though we’ve approved numerous new applications for membership. I want to push to have more of our newer members be involved in the Squadron, especially the committees. P/C Debra Allen will help me roll out a training plan to the Bridge that I hope will help accomplish this. We all need to step up to the plate for this effort – the squadron needs to be more than a ramp, dock, and bathroom.”

Third, Cdr Ed said he wanted “to emphasize our primary mission – the safety of the lake and the people on it. There are more boats than ever on the lake, unfortunately, due in part to the pandemic. This is a great opportunity to ramp up our VSC's, Education, Reference Lights/Co-Op Charting, and support for lake activities.”  

Concluding his remarks, Cdr Ed said, “Neither I nor the Bridge have all the ideas. That is why I welcome the rest of the members of the Squadron to reach out to us with any thoughts you may have to help us continue as the best squadron in the United States Power Squadrons. Thanks again for your support. We’re looking forward to a great 2021!”

Click on the first thumbnail below to view scenes from Lake Murray’s 16 October annual meeting and its COW on 6 November.

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Updated 27 January 2021
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