January 28, 2008 Rotogram


Our guest today is Tommy Raffo, MSU assistant baseball coach.  He’ll give us a preview of the 2008 Diamond Dawgs and expectations for the upcoming season.


Next week, our guest will be Ben Griffith, Starkville City Planner. We’re looking forward to hearing what’s going on to plan for our community’s future growth and development. Matt Cox will introduce the program.


Attendance: There were 131  Rotarians  (88  active and 43 exempt) present at our January 14th meeting.  Missing were 48  active, 14 exempt, and all 9 honorary members.

Invocation: Brian Lesley

Guests: Special  guest was Allison Noffsinger who received the District’s Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and will study at Tel Aviv University next year.

Guests of members were Cindy Akers (Cadence Banking) of Mike Cayson; Clark Roman (Director of Starkville Parks and Recreation) of Bo Haynes; and former member Melanie Greene of Nina Welch.

Other Club guests were  RYE Students Negrita Caicedo and Maryna Melnik; and media guests Kelly Daniels (Starkville Daily News) and Skip Descant (Columbus Commercial Dispatch). They were introduced by VP Chip Templeton, who served double duty and presided  in the absence of President Ned Browning.

Welcomed Back: We were pleased to welcome three Rotarians, who have missed meetings while  dealing with health problems: Lynn Richardson (broken leg), Martin Jue (heart treatment); and Joe Tom Moseley (shoulder surgery).

First Timer: We recognized retired surgeon Joe Bumgardner, who was attending his first meeting as a member.

Condolences: VP Chip Templeton expressed the condolences of Rotarians to  President Ned and his wife Mary, on the death of Mary’s mother.

Rotary Minute: Carey Hardin’s Rotary minute was something he discovered after Gen. Hearon spoke to us January 7. Carey said that several years ago, Hearon met someone in the military whose life had been saved by a bone marrow transplant. That prompted him to start a drive to get members of Mississippi’s ANG to sign up as blood marrow donors.

During the time Hearon was in southeast Asia helping oversee the air war over Afghanistan and Iraq, his wife in Jackson got phone call from saying that a woman in one of the East Coast states was in dire need of a transplant of blood marrow that matched Hearon’s.

Tests confirmed it was a perfect match, so Hearon received permission to fly back to the states for the life-saving transplant then returned to his duty assignment on the other side of the world.

As Carey said, “what a wonderful example of Service Above Self!” You’ll recall that Hearon is a member of North Jackson Rotary Club with 29 years of perfect attendance. “None of his makeups were on-line,” Carey quipped.

Roy Ruby followed Carey with a Absolutely Nothing to do About Rotary Minute that as usual left everyone chuckling.


Construction of the new multipurpose center at Starkville Sportsplex is above ground and moving on schedule to open January 1, 2009.

Local Architect Gary Shafer described the new facilities after paying tribute to the efforts of Parks and Recreation Director Clark Roman and the citizen Parks and Recreation Commission. “They have been very good to work with.”

Shafer said he was surprised that there was only a 5.6% low to high difference in the bids from eight firms bidding on the $5.5 million contract. Malouf Construction, headquartered in Greenwood, was successful bidder and has since opened a Starkville office.

The facility is designed to provide a new front to the Sportsplex and present an attractive image from Lynn Lane. Separate parking and pedestrian walkways will be provided.

The two-story 150 x 150 building that’s now visible is a gymnasium that will have collapsible bleachers and  basketball courts making it possible for four games of youth basketball to be played simultaneously (“each with its own scoreboard and screaming parents!”). There will be a stage at one end and a running track on the second level will circle the building.

It will have a floor cover system that can be laid in 30 minutes to provide seating for 500 in portable chairs or banquet seating for 320.

There will be a concession stand with access for both indoor and outdoor events. This can serve as a warming kitchen for catered banquets.

The two-story gymnasium will be connected to the present building with a hallway that will make it possible to see and supervise 40,000 extra square feet without the necessity of expanding staff, according to Shafer. The connecting building will have administrative offices and five new meeting rooms. The present administration building will be an arts and crafts center.

After ending his PowerPoint presentation on the Sportsplex, Shafer shifted gears. “We have lived in Starkville for 30 years and each year we have returned to visit my hometown in Pennsylvania. Every year we go back, I find it less attractive. New things there just don’t fit the place.”

Shafer said that caused him to evaluate Starkville’s changes over the 30 years he and his family have been in the community. “Each year, the quantity and quality have been better,” he said. “The city has grown in size, amenities, and opportunities in the eyes of others.

“Cities are like any other living things. Our decisions are the DNA of the city. Decisions made today and yesterday affect tomorrow.” Shafer pointed out that design decisions start many different things in motion. He thinks Starkville is headed in the right direction.

What’s needed to make sure Starkville continues to grow and prosper as an attractive and appealing community  will require everyone working together. “We all must be willing to agree. We must follow what’s best for WE not just for ME,” he said.

Citizens must press government officials. The County needs effective zoning ordinances. The city needs a positive planning and zoning vision. We must make good design decisions and agree as a community.

“We need to think of both the university and downtown together, consider the best qualities of each to develop a good sense of place.”

In conclusion, Shafer said “we are moving forward. Creativity can exist if rules are clear. The fewer the rules the harder the design process. We have to use a holistic approach and think of it without budgets in mind.”


A noteworthy first-time-ever event occurred Thursday evening, January 17, when Delia Claire Dixon was born. Her Mom, Melissa Dixon, is the first Rotarian in the history of our club to give birth while an active member. A warm welcome to Delia Claire and congratulations to Melissa and Grady.


Several Rotarians received the community’s top honors at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership banquet January 17.
Ann Mitchell was named winner of the T.E. Veitch Community Service Award.
Martin Jue acce[ted the Industry of the Year for his firm, MFJ Enterprises.
Jeff Read and Nellah Taylor accepted the R. Clay Simmons Enterprise Award for T.E. Lott and Company.
Peggy Buckley was named the Partnership’s Ambassador of the year.


The Board of Directors has accepted with regret the resignation of George Buehler. George, who became a member in 2006,  is going back to work part-time and will be unable to participate in our meetings.

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