NGAUS Washington Report
(Sept. 23, 2013) The loudest ovation at the 135th NGAUS Conference this weekend in Honolulu was for a guest who made no speech, but simply came to eat. A paper shredder took center stage during the first business session Saturday and gobbled down the mortgage to the National Guard Memorial building, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"The National Guard Memorial now belongs to you, the members of the National Guard Association of the United States," said Maj. Gen Steve Danner, the association chairman, as the mortgage disappeared in the appliance's metal teeth. "You now own a building valued at $75 million."
Danner credited good stewardship of association resources, including the building, and a favorable market kind to NGAUS investments as the reason the mortgage could be paid off six years early.
He said NGAUS always holds a reserve to maintain the association for two years in case of a full mobilization. However, that reserve had grown to a sum large enough to pay off the building and maintain the two-year reserve. Retired Lt. Col. Peter Renaghan, the NGAUS finance committee chairman, recommended in June that the building mortgage be paid off. The board approved the idea in July.
"We held that decision under wraps because we really wanted to share this moment with you," Danner said to attendees, who cheered the announcement and the shredding of the mortgage.
The mortgage was fed into the shredder by Danner, retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the NGAUS president, who signed the mortgage when he was chairman in 2004, retired Maj. Gen. Fred Rees, who led a blue-ribbon panel that recommended building the memorial in the 1990s, and retired Brig. Gen. Ken Ross, the NGAUS treasurer.
Danner announced, too, that he had formed a committee led by Hargett to consider how the money no longer needed for the mortgage will be utilized. The committee's recommendations will be made to the board in July 2014.
"This is a financial game changer for the association," he said.