Withstanding years of challenges
Date posted: February 27, 2014
In a letter sent from Whitney Benefits Board President Tom Kinnison to Sheridan County School District 2, Kinnison describes an earlier challenge to the Whitney will from a 1938 court case. The following exerpt is from that letter.
“ On August 30, 1938, the Whitney Board adopted a resolution to acquire a site and to construct a building for general community purposes and it proposed to construct such a building and then convey it to Sheridan County.
Under the resolution, Whitney would put up 55 percent of the costs of the site and building and 45 percent was to be obtained by a federal grant from the United States Public Works Administration. On Sept. 2, 1938, I.P. Hays, a Whitney board member who had voted against the resolution, sued to enjoin Whitney from entering into this type of transaction.
In the ensuing Sheridan County District Court case bearing Docket No. 6909, and styled “Hayes v. Whitney Benefits, et al.”, then District Court Judge James Burgess found and specifically held that: “This proposal, in short, is for Whitney Benefits to make a donation of money for the construction of a building to be owned, maintained, managed and controlled by Sheridan County. This the corporation cannot do, for it would be violating the terms of the trust under which the property of Whitney Benefits is held and which control its use and disposition.”
Judge Burgess concluded, “The proposal as outlined in the resolution is, therefore, contrary to law. For the trustees cannot give trust property away or shift to others the responsibility for its maintenance, care and control.”
After the decision came down, on Sept. 6, 1938, Whitney changed its resolution and proposed that if any qualified building was constructed under the will, it would be controlled and maintained by Whitney. The court approved this change in the resolution.