Monday, June 23, 2014

Group Updates - June 2014

Hey all, just checking in with all of our readers for our bi-monthly update for June 2014!

Anniversary – HPIR will be celebrating our 8th year at the end of July, wow! It is hard to believe that it has been 8 years since we started our group. Although this has probably been our slowest year on record, I think we all need a little down time. By no means are we “taking a break”, it’s just going to be a much slower paced year than the past seven for us. I’ve said it in previous blogs, I am so thankful to have the wonderful people who make up HPIR; they are like an extended family. Here is to a great, yet slower 8th year!

New Members – It has been three years since we have introduced any new members to our team, but this month our team made a great decision to add two new wonderful people to join HPIR. We met Mike & Tracie back in the fall during tour season. They offered to help us by volunteering with our ghost tours. Through their volunteering, we saw their dedication to us and their desire to not only help with tours but to investigate with us also. During a meeting earlier this month, the team voted to invite them to become full members of our group, and they happily accepted our offer! We welcome to the HPIR family, Tracie & Mike – we look forward to years of investigating with you!

Joining HPIR – I regularly get e-mails from people looking to join our group, and I wanted to address this inquiry for those who have come to us looking to become a part of our team, however I am going to be addressing this in a separate blog post which you can read here: Answering Your Questions About HPIR Membership

Team Toni 5K – Once again this year we volunteered for the Team Toni 5K walk/run. We did not have any participants in the race this year, but we did setup a water station for the other 5K participants.

Tour Season – It is hard to believe that tour season is about four months away! We are looking forward to yet another busy tour season coming up. I also have another blog post up that will be addressing some of the issues we encountered last season because I feel we should stand up for ourselves against those who have went out of their way to try to perhaps, shut us down or at least have been spiteful toward us. I blogged about some issues last year, you can read that post here. And my new blog post for 2014: Guyandotte Ghost Tours 2014

We hope you guys have a great summer, we will update again in a few months!

Photos: top, post meeting bonfire, bottom, Team Toni 5K

Ghost Tours 2014 - Disclaimer

The 2014 Tour Season is rapidly approaching and I am taking a proactive approach to addressing any potential issues that might arise over the next several months as have in the past few years with other organizations in Guyandotte that may decide to offer their own ghost tours this year.
This information is being offered to our loyal tour guests who deserve to have the best tour experience we can provide to them.

Please see: Haunted & Historic Guyandotte Tours - Spooky Fun Awaits for some of the backstory on why I am posting this information for our 2014 tour season. There will be a link back to this page so that you may continue reading here.

It is June 23, 2014 and while I have no known information about what other organizations in the Guyandotte area are planning as of today but based off of the issues we have encountered the past two years, I am posting this as a disclaimer of sorts. Huntington Paranormal Investigations & Research which operates the Haunted & Historic Guyandotte Tours is in no way affiliated with any pay to participate tour that may be offered in the Guyandotte area this year. Huntington Paranormal Investigations & Research as Haunted & Historic Guyandotte Tours maintains our tours as free of monetary charge or donation requirement to the general public, furthermore we are not planning any tours to act as a fundraiser for any entity in the 2014 season.

I don't like to air our grievances so publically, but this has been so ongoing that I feel the need to stand up and say something. So to expand on what happened specifically last year: I realize there are two sides to every story and I can't say I know their side but will share the facts I do know.

Last year Swinefest teamed up with the Madie Carroll House to plan some events. In previous years we have worked with the MCH during tour season and they were wonderful in allowing us to bring in tour guests, use their property for some tour setups and even provided us with some “ghosts” inside the house during the tours. We have offered a Guyandotte Cemetery Tour for Swinefest since 2009.

What happened last year was not what we expected. The short story is that before Swinefest announced the dates of their event publically, they along with the MCH quietly reserved use of the cemetery for that weekend to do their own ghost tour for a fee. Once Swinefest announces their event dates, we have always planned our Guyandotte Cemetery Ghost Tour to go on simultaneously that weekend. What we found was that when we went to make our reservation for the cemetery space, they had already made the reservation in another person’s name. However, the person who made the reservation put it in our organization’s name, phone number and home address. So essentially they fraudulently used our organization and info to reserve the area for themselves knowing we use that area yearly for tours. It ended up backfiring on them and ultimately we got to use the space for our event.

Some of the members of those two organizations exploded on us verbally, they were extremely upset. They wanted to do their own tour without us, they wanted to draw in the crowds we do and charge them to take a tour we have offered for years for no charge. They wanted to use the tour as a fundraiser for their organization. They even asked us to remove some properties from our tour out of spite after this.
The thing is both Swinefest and the Madie Carroll House receive thousands of dollars in grant money and funding yearly for their events and property needs. Haunted & Historic Guyandotte Tours receives no type of funding, we do this on our own time, out of our own pocket and because we love to do it, nothing more. We have no required donations, although we do get small donations from tour guests, those small donations go back into our tours and even to other local organizations.

We will not be associated with the kind of people who act in this manner. We have only tried to provide something nice for the members of our community to do for free, but year after year we run into people who see the crowd we bring in and want to profit from it. This has been an ongoing thing for years now. Again, we don’t know what events other organizations are planning this year, but we just want to make our guests aware that if there are other ghost tour type events going on in Guyandotte this year for a fee, we are not involved.

All of our tours will be posted on our website and Facebook page, so please visit those pages for all the dates and information!

Answering Your Questions About HPIR Membership

If you visit our website and you are seeking to find a way to join our team, you hit the link to go to our contact page you will see a list of things to the left that you may want to contact us about. Within that list you will see a section that says joining our team and reads like this:

Joining Our Team - Currently we are not seeking to add any new members to our group. If in the future we have openings, we will make an announcement on our website and Facebook pages.
I want to talk a bit more in detail about our reasons we are not accepting any new members to our team because I still get lots of emails from people wanting to join. It's difficult to say no to someone who has a passion to become a paranormal investigator, and I try to reply back to everyone who contacts us and sometimes I offer them some alternatives. But here are the reasons why you may get an e-mail reply from us saying we are not seeking new members:

For starters, let me say we don't want to discourage anyone by telling you we are not looking for new members. We want you to be able to go out and learn about and experience paranormal investigation in one way or another (legally). But if I invited in everyone I received an email from wanting to join our team, our membership would be up to around 100+ or so by now, I would imagine. It is what it is, we unfortunately can't add everyone who wants to join us.

Currently we have 11 members, and that includes the addition of our two newest members as of June 2014. Before June 2014, our last member we added to the team was in June 2011. At our highest member count, I believe we had somewhere around 18-20 members and that was in 2007. I quickly learned that even in a very large location, that many people is entirely too many. We have had many people come and go over the years for various reasons, and it is difficult having a constant shift due to changing members and the number of people on the team. It took going through so many members to find out who and what will work for us. We wanted dedicated members, long term members and not thrill seeker types. I used an application process when we were open to new members and that helped me get a better idea of why people wanted to join. And when we did invite people to join, if our team was not for them or paranormal investigation was not for them, they moved on.

Around 2009-2010 our membership began to really stabilize and we picked up the majority of our current long term members during that time. I found people who not only wanted to investigate the paranormal passionately, but also were willing to step up and be a part of our (at the time) new ghost tours we were building. Our current membership works, we all are different but everyone is dedicated. We have a family-like relationship with one another, and each member has gone above and beyond to make HPIR the best it can be. At 9 members (up until June 2014) we felt that we were strong, stable and adding any more would make our group too large.

You are probably wondering since we are not seeking new members, why did we add two new members in 2014? - Well our two new members came to us during a time we were not looking to add anyone to our team. They had contacted us about membership and we told them that our membership was full. However, come tour time they offered to help us. During tour season we always need extra helpers and although we need that extra help badly we can't take on extra members to get that help. We allowed them to help us, and by helping us they showed us something they were willing to go above and beyond, be there when we needed them and they were there for every event we needed help with. We saw they were paranormal enthusiasts, they investigated the paranormal on their own before they became members. We enjoyed their company, talking paranormal with them and they became our friends. They were a natural fit for our team, so we invited them to join us. It came to be not because we were looking, but became they found their way to us and their persistence paid off for them. I can't say that the next person who comes along and who is persistent will automatically be added to our team, because we are at 11 members and well I thought 9 was plenty before we added 2 more.

Sometimes I get e-mails from people who don't necessarily want to join our team but just want to go investigate with us, and unfortunately the answer is no to that too. We offer public events that give people a chance to visit some haunted places, and even have allowed them to do a little bit of ghost hunting too. But in a general sense, we can't allow just anyone to come with us. Privacy of the people we investigate for is a big issue, so is liability issues as well. Our members must provide us with personal identification, sign disclaimers, sign safety forms and I keep a file on all our members in case we ever have a legal issue with any of them. Not every paranormal group is going to be quite so strict, but we are and we take what we do very serious.

But with all of that being said, right now there are so many places that are open to allow people to come in and ghost hunt for a fee, there are almost limitless opportunities to experience the paranormal world in some way. There are other groups in the area that are probably looking for members (if you are one of those groups, feel free to contact us for membership referrals), or if you don't want to join an existing group start one of your own, there is always room for more! I even have a blog post on forming your own group!

I hope this gives you a little insight as to why we are not planning to add any more new members to our team anytime soon, but hopefully you will find a way to experience your desire to investigate the paranormal!

Melissa - HPIR Founder