March 17, 2008 Rotogram


We’re pleased to welcome today’s guest speaker, Virginia Holtkamp, Director of Starkville Public Library.


Next Monday, Rotarian Mike Hainsey will give us an update on Golden Triangle Regional Airport. Hopefully, he’ll have some news from the airline industry on the possibilities for increased service to and from GTR.


Attendance: There were 116 members (80 active and 36 exempt) present and 86 members  (57 active, 20 exempt, and 9 honorary) missing.  Two actives are on leave. Membership is now 202.

Invocation and Pledge: Johnny Thompson.

Guests: Guests  included Edwin Ellis of Chester McKee; Jarred Reneau of Greg Stewart; Michael Wardlaw of Kristi Brown; Stephen Cunetto of Frances Coleman; and Club guests Bill Ford and Ruth Morgan (Heritage Museum).

Makeups: Omis Avant made up (again) in Key West on Feb. 26. Sean Owen made up in Eupora March 4.

New Member “Job Talk”: Sean Owen, one of our newest members, told fellow Rotarians that after earning his undergraduate degree at Ole Miss and his Masters at Delta State, he came to Mississippi State (“a real school”) for his doctorate. An assistant research professor and information technology specialist , Sean has been with the MSU Center for Educational Training Technology for 8 years. He finds developing technology systems for Mississippi State’s Extension Service and other Extension systems nationwide is both both challenging and interesting.

Sean and his wife of a dozen years, Pat, have a 5-year-old son, so he’s now a “soccer Dad.” He was proposed for Rotary by Gery Cummings.

Club Awarded District Grant: Starkville Rotary Club has been awarded a District 6820 Simplified Grant to support the Father’s Child Ministry. Governor Jack Forbus presented a check for $1,000 to President Ned Browning. The grant will be matched by the Club to bring the support for Father’s Child Ministry to $2,000.

Meeting Notes: President Ned announced that a Group Study Exchange team from District 1790 in France, will be visiting District 6820 in April and will be in Starkville April 17-19 for the District Conference. The Club’s GSE Committee met following adjournment of Rotary.

Ragtime Music Festival: President-Elect Chip Templeton invited Rotarians to attend all or part of the second Charles Templeton Ragtime Music Festival March 28-30. Chip said the first Ragtime Festival last year was very successful. Reservations for this year’s event have been received from throughout the U.S., but Chip said that local support is important to ensure future success.

The festival is sponsored by the Mississippi State University Libraries and the Charles H. Templeton, Sr. Music Museum.

The festival features lectures, tours, and concerts by outstanding artists, including Mimi Blais from Montreal, Quebec, who is coming early to spend some time in Starkville’s public schools. A crowd favorite in last year’s Festival, Mimi has been called “the female Victor Borge,” and “The New Queen of Ragtime.”

Contact the Library for ticket information (662) 325-2559 or you can register online at


The Oktibbeha County Museum, established more than 30 years ago as a project marking the nation’s Bicentennial, is undergoing a facelift funded by grants from SOAR and the Johnny Cash Festival.

Joan Wilson, chair of the museum board of directors, told Rotarians that the museum is one of six in the state and 48 nationwide chosen to develop recommendations and guidelines for communities wanting to establish small museums.

The museum is staffed by volunteers and is dedicated to collecting and preserving only artifacts from the local area – “Bridging the Generations and Making the Past Come Alive Today.”  Originally the depot for the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad, the 1874 building was acquired by the city and modernized for the museum opening in 1976.

Mrs. Wilson said the museum has received wonderful support from local businesses. Dr. David Lewis and students in his College of Architecture classes photographed and catalogued all the museum’s artifacts.

Realizing the need to make the local community more aware of the museum, the board established the “Our Community  Series” program with support from the Arts Council. A recent monthly program included one on Cool Papa Bell and his baseball career. In April, the program focus will be on the Civil War in this area. Plans are also underway to form a “Friends of the Museum” support organization.

Mrs. Wilson then introduced Rotarian Chester McKee, who narrated a PowerPoint presentation of postcards depicting the early years of the community and university. Chester’s recollections of the pictures were both enlightening and entertaining, prompting many Rotarians to suggest that he should be scheduled for a future program or programs. The scenes were selected  from the Jerry Drott collection of more than 100 postcards.

“This is Starkville’s original public school – it has been modified over the years and is now Overstreet. John Robert Arnold and I were in the same first grade class there in 1929.”

He showed a picture of the “big school” (now Greensboro Center) he attended from 4th grade through high school. “The Superintendent was G.P. Dorsey. It was said that the G.P. stood for gunpowder because Mr. Dorsey had a paddle loaded with gunpowder. In fact, he had a circular machine with six paddles, that would rotate and smack offenders six times,” he recalled.

Other picture postcards that triggered recollections and humorous incidents included high shots of the “city” from atop the old water tower. They included the old courthouse, hospital, and several of the churches. A shot of Main Street looking east toward “the College,” prompted Chester to recall that the first automobile in town was an old Maxwell owned by a Professor Barnes.

With a  photo of the old Security State Bank taken in the early 1930’s, Chester recalled how it and Peoples Bank “kept the college folks fed, extending credit when the State was bankrupt and no one was paid from January through June.”

There were photos of some of the stately old homes in the community and the Borden Plant established here in 1926.

Among the postcard views of Mississippi State, was one Perry Cafeteria soon after it was built. “A & M was a military school and all the students ate in the cafeteria. They had to wear uniforms and ate at the same time by squads and platoons.

The first Agricultural Engineering Building was constructed in 1902 for a total cost of $30,000. Chester recalled that Buzz Walker, who was the father of Rotarian Tommy Wakeman’s wife, Jean, was Dean of Engineering when it was established as a college. “He was perhaps the most distinguished internationally known faculty member in the history of MSU,” Chester said. “He found the solution to an unsolvable problem – one that educators all over the world had been working on for years without success.”

Other photos included Montgomery Hall (1902), Lee Hall (1910), and George Hall, the college’s first hospital “where I got my tonsils out.) Eckes Pond was built by Prof. McKay to supply water for his plots.

Chester concluded the presentation with  a photo of Old Main, said to be the nation’s largest dormitory, that burned in February 1959.

Thanks to Chester, Joan Wilson, Ruth Morgan (who scanned all the postcards) and Edwin Ellis (technician and projectionist) for the interesting, informative, and delightful program.

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