November 12, 2007 Rotogram


No matter how you feel about the outcome of last week’s election, you’ll probably agree that the BEST thing about it is that it’s over. That means the plethora of signs that have blighted our landscape for far too many months will be gone! Returning today to give us his perspective on the election results is our friend Marty Wiseman, Director of the MSU Stennis Institute of Government and probably the state’s most knowledgeable and respected political analyst.


Our two exchange students have been regular attenders since their arrival in August. Next Monday, Negrita Caicedo will tell us about her home and family in Ecuador, her first 3½ months in Starkville, and her future plans.


Attendance: There were 115 members present (78 active and 37 exempt). Missing were 56 active, 20 exempt, and all 10 Honorary members. Membership is currently 201 – 191 active and 10 honorary. One member is on leave.

Invocation and Pledge: Andrea Myles.

Guests: Guests of members were Ann Moulds of Nina Welch; Jennie Tomlinson of Debbie Nettles; Nicole Thomas of Phil Burchfield; Rick Smith of Larry Mullins; William Hilbun of Nellah Taylor, and Zach Rowland of Trey Breckenridge. Club guests were Doug Moore, Boy Scout District Executive; Alfi Anderson, Cub Scout Den Leader, Pack 14; Skip Descant, Commercial Dispatch; and RYE Students Negrita Caicedo and Maryna Melnik. They were introduced by Director Melanie Mitchell, standing in for Vice President Chip Templeton.

New Member: We welcomed Jimmy McPherson, who attended his first meeting as a member of Starkville Rotary Club.

Meeting Notes: President Ned Browning introduced Alfi Anderson, Den Leader of Den 1 of Cub Scout Pack 14, who spoke briefly to thank Rotary for sponsoring and continuing to support scouting. As mother of four sons, she wants her sons in scouting because it teaches them core values that will last a lifetime. She presented Ned with a Cub Scout t-shirt that sports the Rotary logo (wheel) prominently on the back.

President Ned Browning announced that the meeting of the Long-Range Planning Committee had been postponed and will meet at 6 this evening (Nov. 12) at Templeton Motors.

Post-Rotary meetings included the Finance and Scouting Committees and the Board of Directors.

All Rotarians becoming members since last December 1 make up the Christmas Float Committee, chaired by Brad Mauck. Ned said a vehicle is needed to pull Rotary’s Santa float in the Dec. 1 parade. If you can volunteer to tow the float contact Brad or Clyde Herring.


Shelton Jones gave us a clearer picture of Rotary’s classification system and the status of classifications in our Club. Currently our membership represents 70 classifications, 43 from the business community and 27 university or education related. Classifications range alphabetically from Accounting to Veterinary Medicine.

The most members representing one classification are in Sales (19), followed by Banking (17). No more than 10% of a club’s membership can be from the same classification.

“Our club survey indicates we have a dozen unfilled classifications,” Shelton said. The “town list” includes: Advertising/Public Relations; Agriculture; Arts & Design/Multi-media; Entertainment; Food Industry; Human Resources/Personnel Management; Local Government; Pharmacy; and Automation – Research. In education, open classifications are Ag Economics; Continuing Education; and Secondary Education.

President Ned encouraged members to seek potential Rotarians representing the unfilled classifications.


The 48,000-acre Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, located an easy drive south of Starkville, is home to hundreds of species of native wildlife and migratory birds and a paradise for nature lovers and folks who love the outdoors. Rotarian Larry Box and Marian Sansing teamed up last Monday to bring us up to date on what’s been happening to make “The Refuge” more accessible and user friendly.

There’s a new first-class Visitor Center open 7 days a week on the south shore of Bluff Lake. It has a beautifully planned wildlife exhibit, a gift shop, and a small auditorium named for Rotarian Jim Tisdale, retired long-time manager of the Refuge. It’s here that visitors are treated to the same excellent 13-minute production shown to Rotarians last week. The professionally done film features the sounds and sights of many species of wildlife (animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians) that visitors may see along the lakes or on hikes on well-marked trails.

What makes the introductory film even more interesting are the opening scenes showing how the Refuge was created by workers during the Depression era Federal Resettlement Administration, laboring with hand tools, horses and mules, and very crude equipment. Today, it stands as a good example of effective forest and wildlife management.

In 2003, Box said that Jim Tisdale and others formed “Friends of the Refuge,” an independent organization of volunteers dedicated to conserving natural resources.

Marian Sansing, who serves as director of “Friends of the Refuge,” has received national recognition for her efforts. She said, “we are a non-profit organization. We provide projects and funding, help with activities and programming, and raise public awareness.”

Members man the Visitor Center on weekends. Florence Box (Larry’s wife) is chair of the Visitor Center Nature Store, where all sorts of gifts, souvenirs, and nature crafts are for sale to visitors. “It’s a good place to shop for Christmas gifts,” Mrs. Sansing told Rotarians.

Every first and third Saturday, programs are offered free to the public. These are family-oriented and youth-oriented programs. Two annual programs are the youth fishing derby and a contest in nature photography.

In conclusion, Larry urged his fellow Rotarians who aren’t already members of “Friends of the Refuge” to consider joining. “We have four meetings a year, You can be as active as you care to be.” There are opportunities for different types of membership ranging from individual and family memberships through Corporate and Benefactor memberships. All help “protect and promote our natural treasures like Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.”

Larry was asked about the educational facility at the Refuge. “In the 1990’s, while I was superintendent, Starkville schools were sending nature classes of students to Crow’s Nest, an educational facility in the northern part of the state. Dan Camp, who was a member of the school board, suggested that the school board should consider building a facility at home on the Refuge.” About that time, Box said Federal grants were made available to expand educational efforts in the nation’s wildlife refuges. Thus, the Starkville Public School System was able to construct an attractive educational facility (named for Larry Box) on the shore of Loakfoma Lake and surrounding wilderness.

Starkville school children now have their own outdoor classroom at the Refuge at no cost. Schools from other areas also utilize the facility on a modest fee basis.

If you haven’t been to the Refuge recently, take an afternoon drive south to the end of Octoc Road, turn right where the road dead-ends and signs will lead you to the Refuge, the new Visitor Center, and to the several wildlife overlook areas. The road to the Refuge is now paved.

Thanks to Larry Box and Marian Sansing for reminding us of this natural treasure that’s virtually at our doorstep. Joe Thompson introduced the program. 


Debra Hicks, a former member who served as Club Secretary in the 1990’s, is rejoining Starkville Rotary Club. She is an investigator for a firm responsible for conducting comprehensive background checks for agencies of the Federal Government. Her classification is Investigations.

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