December 14, 2009 Rotogram

IT’S FRANCESCA’S TURN AT THE PODIUM

      She’s attended almost every meeting since she arrived in Starkville July 24, and Francesca is finally getting a chance to address the club. We’ve learned to love her winning smile and look forward to hearing about her life in Italy and her exchange experiences.

OUR NEXT METING WILL BE JANUARY 4, 2010

      This is our last meeting of 2009. Don’t get out of the Rotary habit over the holiday season and make an effort to attend the meeting of January 4.  We don’t have the name of the speaker, but someone from the Office of the Governor will be here to discuss “The Barbour Budget.”

LAST MONDAY AT ROTARY

Invocation and Pledge:  Grady Mitchener.

Attendance: There were 100 members (68 active and 32 exempt) present. Missing were 61 active and  17 exempt, 4 of whom are on leave. This calculated to an attendance percentage of only 53.4% based on our current  membership of 190, counting 12 honorary, one of whom (Perry Sellers) attended last week.

Visitors and Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Bill Overstreet of West Point.

       Guests of members included Dick Clark of Jack Forbus; John Guyton of his Dad Mark Guyton; John Chiles of his cousin Frank Chiles; EMCC President Rick Young of Tommy Tomlinson; and Stan Chiles of Hank Moseley.  Club guests were Jan Eastman of SOAR; Perry Sellars, Scoutmaster, and Russ Hayes Asst. Scoutmater of Scout Troop 14; and RYE Students Francesca Scaravelli and Kasper Eriksen. They were introduced by Tommy Tomlinson.

A Makeup.  Mike Hainsey reported a makeup at Columbus Rotary Club on November 10.

Meeting Notes: President Martha Wells expressed condolences to Rotarian Loren Zimmerman and his family on the death of Loren’s mother early Monday morning. Services were held Wednesday.

      Martha also expressed the concern and sympathy of all Rotarians to Paul and Mildred Jacob, whose Huntington Park home had been damaged by fire the previous week. Now an Honorary Life Member, Paul has been a member of our club since 1953.

      Congratulations to Ned and Mary Browning on the birth of their first grandchild over the weekend.

ROTARY DOLLARS FOR SCOUTING

      President Martha presented a check for $1,500  to Perry Sellars, Scoutmaster of Troop 14, representing half of our annual financial support of the troop. Sellars spoke briefly to thank the club and report on recent Troop activities. Three scouts achieved their Eagle rank during the most recent Court of Honor. Two special activities included a trip and overnight stay aboard the USS Alabama in Mobile and a campout at Tishomingo State Park. He spoke highly of a camporee held at Mississippi State that enabled the Scouts to work on merit badges. He dubbed it “Merit Badge University.”

SOAR ACHIEVES TUITION FUNDING GOAL

      Jan Eastman, Director of Development for the CREATE Foundation, spoke briefly to thank Rotarians for their key role in helping SOAR achieve its goal of raising $200,000. This will be matched with $100,000 from the CREATE Foundation to establish a fund to guarantee tuition for any Oktibbeha County student to attend East Mississippi Community College (EMCC). Rotary President Martha Wells, a SOAR Board Member, had announced the achievement at a press conference earlier in the day. As of Nov. 30, the SOAR endowment fund had topped $256,500.

      A number of other Rotarians have been instrumental in the success of SOAR since it was founded in 2003 as a community affiliate of CREATE.  

ROTARY DONATIONS TAX DEDUCTIBLE

      Your support now of the District Water Project in Kenya will not only be matched by the Club, it will add to your tax deductions if it’s made before December 31. Why not make your check out to Starkville Rotary Foundation today and more than double the value of your investment.

      A great gift for a  hard-to-shop-for spouse, child, or grandchild is to make them a Paul Harris Fellow with a $1,000 donation  to the Rotary International Foundation.

      But act soon if you want to add to deductions on your 2009 tax forms.

MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY COLLEGES VITAL IN STATE’S EDUCATION SYSTEM

      Buddy Stephens is not only a highly successful football coach, he’s an enthusiastic proponent of Mississippi’s community colleges. The Alabama native spoke to Rotarians fresh off his EMCC Lions’ victory over sixth-ranked Arizona Western College in the 2009 Mississippi Bowl played in Biloxi the previous day. The 11 wins and only one loss added up to the most successful season in the school’s history with  the team ranked fifth nationally.

      But Stephens didn’t just talk football.  Instead, he launched into a discussion of the role of community and junior colleges in the state’s educational system.

      “There’s a great deal of misunderstanding about community colleges. But they are becoming more and more popular and I believe they are the wave of the future,” he predicted.

      Students feel more at home in the community colleges located in 14 small cities and towns spread across the state.

      “The (SOAR) tuition assistance program has really helped us and the students,” Stephens said. “We need your continued support – not just financially,  but also your help in encouraging high school graduates to consider community colleges as they continue their education.”

      His 55-man roster has 33 players in their second (final) year. Twenty-six are finishing this semester and all have been offered football scholarships at Div. I schools throughout the region and beyond.

      Division I schools often send academically ineligible players to community colleges where they are able to play football and get tutoring help for 2 years to become eligible for Div. I play.

      Stephens, who has his Masters degree from Delta State  is in his second year at EMCC after 8 successful years at Pearl River where his team captured the national championship in 2004. But he says he feels very much at home at Scooba and is proud to be this close to Mississippi State. “It’s an awesome place to be.”

      “More students are coming to community colleges in this economy. We don’t do anything special, we just take care of our people.”

      Asked about enrollment, he said there are about 3,600 students on the Golden Triangle campus and something over 1,000 at Scooba.

      Athletic programs are governed by NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) rules. While there are recruiting rules that must be followed, there are no limits on contacts.

      The majority of EMCC students come from Kemper and five surrounding counties. He does most of his initial recruiting contacts by phone.

      Stephens said the key to recruiting is getting the students graduated. He lays out an acceptable academic plan first and has a strong tutorial system in place.  He has a full-time academic counselor on his staff. Stephens was introduced by Jack Forbus.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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