January 25, 2009 Rotogram


In the depths of winter, visions of the baseball diamond can brighten things up. Entering his second season John Cohen, Mississippi State baseball coach, will look at the challenging 56-game season which opens February 19 with a three-game series with the University of Rhode Island.


Allison Noffsinger, back home in Starkville after a year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Tel Aviv, will report on her trip.  A graduate of Starkville High School and Western Kentucky University, she is now Study Abroad Coordinator for MSU International Programs.

January 11

Invocation and Pledge: Ned Browning

Attendance: There were 108 members (36 exempt) present and 84 (13 exempt, 12 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: John Robert Arnold accounted for all member guests hosting Greg Ball, John McReynolds and Nelson Jones. Club guests were Freddie Rasberry, Peggy Branch, and Kasper Eriksen and Francesa Scaravelli, Youth Exchange Students.

Special Youth Exchange guest: Jacques Beluch of the Mende, France, Rotary Club, was Julia Cathcart’s host dad for her 2002 Youth Exchange. He visited Starkville for her wedding on Jan. 9 and was the Club’s guest for lunch.

New members: President Martha welcomed our two newest members Jeremy Brock and John Frasier.


Freddie Rasberry and Peggy Branch of Habitat collected the Club’s annual contribution. The $3,000 goes toward another Rotary roof.  Rasberry reported that last year’s budgeted contribution helped fund the MSU Maroon Edition House. Started in August, the home was finished by Thanksgiving with labor from Mississippi State student and staff. More than 800 volunteers gave 2,800 hours to make it Starkville’s fastest “build” ever.


Continuing our literacy tradition of giving dictionaries to area third graders, our committee  made the annual delivery recently. President Martha read excerpts from students’ and teachers’ thank you notes:

      From Starkville Academy — “I want you to know they began using them immediately during recess (we were inside that day).”

      From Starkville Christian School — “I have looked up three words to spell – pickle, Maryland, and pizza.”


Rotarian David Vanlandingham, Oktibbeha County Humane Society vice president, accepted the Club’s donation.  The local animal shelter cares for 50 to 60 dogs and  25 to 30 cats at a time. Rotarian Donna Reese also is an OCHS board member.


In between women’s basketball team trips, new Rotarian Larry Otis introduced himself to the Club. In addition to being married to MSU Women’s Basketball Coach Sharon Fanning, he is a former mayor of Tupelo, agricultural missionary, river towing and port operations company owner, and Mississippi Appalachian Regional Commission and Tenn-Tom Waterway administrator.

      Widowed in 2005, he met Fanning and considers himself “doubly blessed after 47 years of marriage to meet another lady that has the same moral values. It’s a real joy.”

      “Now I carry her bags and run everything around the house,” he said

      A Macon native who grew up in Columbus, Otis holds education degrees from MSU and the University of Mississippi. He was the administrator who opened the Tupelo campus of Itawamba Community College.

      In his spare time, he serves as vice chair of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, as chair of the State Workforce Board, and as a research fellow with NSPARC on campus.


Our Interact chapter has chosen hunger as the target of its first community service project. In the lead up to Super Bowl weekend, the students will collect canned soup for local food pantries from today through Feb. 6.

      Rotarians are urged to bring soup to next week’s meeting and to place collection boxes in their places of business. Interact members will collect cans outside of WalMart and Kroger on the two Saturdays before the Super Bowl.


Mark your calendar for the fourth annual Rotary Classic Rodeo on Feb. 12 and 13 at the Mississippi Horse Park. This year’s beneficiary is the SOAR tuition guarantee program at East Mississippi Community College.


Your steak or burger is brought to you by a cattleman who works seven days per week and 52 weeks per year.

      Doug Yelverton, Lowndes Co. Cattleman’s Association president, painted a picture of that life at our last meeting.

      Raised on a Lowndes Co. dairy farm, he now lives in Artesia. Among his six cattle operations is a herd in the Sessums community.

      Animal agriculture and care, and consumer safety are two of his main themes as an industry representative.

      Illustrating the round-the-clock nature of the business, he recounted how more than 30 years ago his Sunday trip to church was interrupted to deliver a calf that was having difficulty.

      Yelverton states the livestock producer’s mission as “Whatever we’re doing we have to take care of the cattle first.”

      Although his grandfather from Virginia started the Stover Apiaries in Mayhew shipping queen bees all over the world, the 1962 MSU dairy graduate was drawn to livestock.

      In 1954, he bought two registered Holstein heifers for a 4-H dairy project and has worked in the industry without interruption.

      He also holds a master’s in dairy nutrition from State.

      In 1964 he bought a neighboring farm with a herd of registered Jersey cattle and stayed with dairying until 1973 when his helper decided to leave.

      Switching to beef production, he now has a stocker operation of about 600 animals through the year. And he manages it with one full-time and one part-time helper.

      He has a 275 head brood cow operation and a 600 head stocker operation.

      A brood cow is expected to have a calf each year. To manage the reproduction cycle, Yelverton maintains fall and spring calving herds. Bulls are in the herd for three months for breeding.

      Each herd is worked twice a year to deworm, and vaccinate for respiratory diseases and reproductive viruses.

      When calves are weaned, he checks cows for pregnancy. The cattleman hopes for a 95 percent pregnancy rate. In the end, 90 to 95 percent of calves make it to weaning.

      After a stocker calf is weaned from its mother, the producer carries it to a heavier weight of about 900 pounds before selling. He expects three to 3.8 pounds gain per day for 120 to 150 days depending on their weight when they go in to the program.

      Yelverton retains ownership of animals all way through the stocker operation to Midwestern feedlots.

      In recent years, industry threats have included drought followed by excessive rain, animal rights opposition, and the economic downturn.

      One way to combat rising costs is for a grower to make his herds’ grain rations with agricultural byproducts. Among the things that Yelverton uses are soy hull pellets from soy oil production, corn gluten pellets from the corn sweetener business. And recently, dried distillers grain has become an alternative from the ethanol industry.

      With the current economic situation, consumption is down particularly on high-end cuts. So, Yelverton encouraged us to go out and eat a steak to improve the economy.

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