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Meet 'n' Greet, Gold Hill June 22, 2011
At 6:30 on Wednesday morning June 22 . . .
. . . about a dozen volunteers deployed from the south parking lot of Maynard Station in Gold Hill to tack signs, placards and a banner with a quote by Mark Twain about mines and liars to the fence across from the Gold Hill Hotel.
By 7 a dozen people were on hand to greet arrivals at the hotel: investors and investment advisors gathering for a day of CMI presentations about the glorious future of this great enterprise.
By 8 am, when Chef Randy began serving breakfast at the hotel, Chef Chris was serving coffee and donuts to the 15-20 of us under the sheltering locust tree at the lower Maynard Station parking lot. After a while a few of us began drifting south along the fenceline and eventually Susan Stornetta and Allison Woodman were at the end of the fence, directly across from the entrance to the hotel.
Suddenly a figure appeared in front of the hotel, a man in semi-formal dress: slacks, blazer and polished shoes, but no necktie. "Hello," he called across the street. "Hello, can we talk? I can see you are sincere good people, I'd like to talk with you about your concerns! What's your name?"
The women replied, and he hurried across the pavement to where they stood, introducing himself as John Winfield, the major investor in CMI and the principal instigator of this threat to the future of the Comstock.
He listened attentively as they explained their objections to CMI and what it has already done within the Historic Landmark and our peaceful towns. He positively dripped concern, and the pain of his disappointment was palpable as he had to explain that he wouldn't be an officer of the company until the next day, when he was to be elected Chairman of the Board. And so, unhappily, he didn't have any facts at his disposal, and so unfortunately couldn't speak for the company, but he would do absolutely everything in his power to see that these matters are immediately addressed at the very first opportunity. He so wanted to help! But sad to say, the irresistable force of circumstances prevented it.
That's when Carrado came across the street and joined the conversation too. More of the CRA group followed the fenceline down and pretty soon there were probably more pedestrians gathered in that spot than at any time since the 1890s, and then they would have been watching a parade.
During the conversational free-for-all that ensued, John Winfield startled me by referring to my great-grandfather Harry Gorham, and to the loss and miraculous recovery of his "keepsake" silver dollar. It's a story he tells in his book "My Memories of the Comstock".
And then John Winfield said, "Your great-grandfather and I are very much alike in some ways."
It shut my mouth. Partly because I had trouble processing my great-grandfather into this situation, partly because we had resolved to maintain a respectful attitude toward the CMI people but mostly because it was such a preposterous statement that I was speechless. I have since written John Winfield an Open Letter about it.
"What about all the jobs you're bragging about?" someone asked.
"We have 12 local people working already," Carrado answered.
"There's one from Silver City and one from Mark Twain, who else?"
"Well there are about a dozen. Maybe some of them are in Reno."
"Do they have names?"
"I'll get back to you" he said.
According to an internet post from an attendee, when John Winfield went back inside he told the assemblage that we wouldn't talk to him once we learned who he was. This post also reports that De Gasperis stated the company's plan "is hundreds of pages and every step is mapped in detail" yet none of these hundreds of pages or detailed mappings have ever been seen by anyone outside the company's innermost circle.
This shareholder also wrote [spelling left as is]: "A surpprise visit from the manager of Story County [actually Dean Haymore, who heads the Building, Planning and Community Development departments] and speaker to the SH meeting was, as far as I'm concerned, to let us know that they are behind Comstock Mining's endevors. Very much a straight shooter. Even Carrado seemed surprised he showed up and asked to speak. I think he did this because of the protestors (all 6 or 7 of them) across the road and up the hill away's and wanted to let us know that their presence was not the feeling of the county."
As the rest of the day passed quietly, several small groups of investors and potential investors found their way up to our Information Center at Maynard Station where they were provided with information about CMI, its predecessor companies and its leadership, including Jeffrey Jolcover, an officer with Winfield in D.W.C. Resouces, who was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for stock fraud and money laundering.
One such visitor was quite surprised to read the CMI quarterly report where it is spelled out how the Preferred shares will convert to common stock at rates ranging up to more than 1500 to one. "I've never seen such a thing," he said, and returned to the proceedings at the Hotel.
As this man said when he returned later in the afternoon, Winfield seemed nonplussed when confronted with the question about the dilution of the stock, and his long-time associate William Nance took over, saying "I had a hard time getting my arms around that one myself. But there is so much gold in the ground here, and the values are so rich and plentiful that there's more than enough to go around, and stars in the sky, birds singing in the trees, big huge rainbows everywhere you look, and the big rock candy mountain!" Or words to that effect.
Whether we saved anyone from the harmful effects of Gold Fever we don't know, but we did our best to provide the facts.
Our Meet 'n' Greet BBQ in the afternoon and evening was great fun. It attracted more than a hundred folks, many of whom are new CRA supporters, and raised more than $700 for the cause. On Thursday some of our stalwarts met the V&T train on which CMI guests were riding down from Virginia City with signs and placards reminding them that the road to riches is not always smooth.
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We didn't have live music at the Meet 'n' Greet, and it might not have been heard over the lively babble of conversation if we had. But if you'd like a cheerful tune or three, click the links below for music from our Sacramento Lootenanny.
West Nile Ramblers
Miss Lonely Hearts
Mike Blanchard and the Californios