November 26, 2007 Rotogram


Rotarian “Sonny” Kelly, Administrator and CEO of Oktibbeha County Hospital, is today’s speaker. He’ll update us on the status and services of the hospital.


Outstanding teachers and students from five area schools will be recognized next week. Schools represented Monday will be East Oktibbeha, Overstreet, Sudduth, Ward-Stewart, and West Oktibbeha Elementary Schools.

The slate of 2007-08 officers will be presented.


Attendance: There were 99 members (67 active, 31 exempt, and 1 honorary)present, and 67 active, 26 exempt, and 9 honorary members missing. Two actives are on leave.

Invocation and Pledge: Guy Hargrove sang the familiar Thanksgiving hymn “We Gather Together” as the invocation.

Guests: Guests of members were Kate and Lesley Charlton of their grandfather, O. A. Cleveland, and Rick Smith of Larry Mullins. Club guests were Exchange Students Maryna Melnik and Negrita Caecido, and Shoshana Bracket of Starkville Daily News. Special guests were Bill and Vicki Burnett (host parents for Negrita); Randy and Melissa Follett (Negrita’s next host parents); and Susan and Elizabeth Tomlinson (Maryna’s host mother and sister).

Makeups Reported: David Boles in Indianapolis, IN, Nov. 12; Carey Hardin in Gordo, AL, Nov. 12; and Jeff Donald in West Point Nov. 15. Gov. Jack Forbus has attended meetings at 11 District 6820 clubs since his last meeting with us.

Rotary Minute: Chip Templeton’s Rotary Minute was explaining the newly formed Long Range Planning Committee. “I believe in the saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thus, the goal of the LRP committee is not to “fix” the club but to look at how we can become even more effective. He asked members to “dream” and to make suggestions on things our club might do if funds were not limited. Here’s your chance to make your voice heard in things you’d like to see changed and things you’d like to see our club do for our community and beyond.

Meeting Notes: President Ned Browning congratulated Nancy Hargrove for her essay that garnered her most recent national honor.

He asked Maryna to stand and model her brand new Rotary Youth Exchange blazer, supplied by former member and Paul Harris Fellow Sammy Smith. Sammy has also donated the blazers for the past six of our outbound RYE students. Be sure to tell him THANKS next time you drop by his store.

Meetings of the Christmas Float and Membership/Classification committees were held.

Bill Simmons has been storing the sleigh upstairs over his office for the past dozen years. Because it’s tough getting it up and down the stairway, he’s looking for a more convenient place to store it from year to year.

The Christmas Parade is next Saturday, Dec. 1.


Our Bylaws call for the election of officers for the coming year to be held at the second meeting of December. A slate of officers to be elected is to be presented by the nominating committee at the first meeting of December. Nominations for consideration by the nominating committee should be in the committee’s hands TODAY. Here are the officers to be elected:

Vice President/President-elect from the University community.

Secretary – Michelle Amos is in her second term and not eligible for re-election.

Treasurer – Jeff Read is in his second term and not eligible for re-election.

Directors – Four to be elected for 2-year terms. Two each from the business and university communities, one of whom shall have been a member fewer than 5 years; one a member 5 years or more. Check your directory to find out when a person joined Rotary.

The nominating committee is comprised of the three immediate past presidents: Larry Mullins, (chm); Ed Clynch; and Larry Box. 


Negrita Caecido, who has attended almost every Rotary meeting since she arrived in Starkville, finally got a chance to tell us about her home and family, her home city of Ambato, and the lovely and diverse country of Ecuador. She showed a 5-minute video clip to give us a taste of Ecuador’s beauty and biodiversity, then used slides to fill in the details.

She opened with a picture of “the monument in the middle of the world.” Located in the capitol city of Quito, the monument was made in 1736 when French explorers defined location of the equatorial division of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Negrita’s home is in Ambato, a city of 287,000 located 8,454+ feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains. She said the temperature there ranges from 64-75 degrees (sounds heavenly) year round. A 16,500-foot volcano about 17 miles away that has been active since 2000, occasionally scatters ash on the city but is not considered a major threat.

“My family is the most important thing in my life,” Negrita said. Her emotional description of her family and their activities and values left little doubt of her love for them and how much she misses them during her year with us.

“My daddy, Luis Fernando, is 46 and a civil engineer for the Ambato water company.” She said his family comes first in everything and he is not only her father, but her friend and confidant as well.

Her “Mami” is Paulina Victoria and is “the most special person in my life – my friend and my best adviser.”

Negrita’s sister Gabriela (‘Gabby’) is a year older and is now studying economics at the university. The two have an excellent relationship. Gabby was a Rotary Exchange Student in Vermont last year. Negrita addresses Rotarians and guests

She told about her school and some of her favorite activities – cheerleading, camping, and just spending time with a very wide circle of friends.

Some of the special festivals observed in Ecuador include “November 2,” which sounds a bit like our Memorial Day observation, and “Old Year,” a lot like our New Year’s Eve celebration.

She told about her arrival at GTR in late July, where she was warmly welcomed by host parents and several Rotarians.

“I want to say thanks to God for giving me this wonderful experience. I consider this the point where my life really begins as an independent person, as hard as it is to be away from my parents,” she said.

Negrita’s first host family, Bill and Vicki Burnett and their children, Tori, David, and Maggie, have warmly welcomed her. She thanked them for the love, support, and help they’ve given her as she adjusted to her life in Starkville. Although it will be difficult for her to leave their home, she’s looking forward to moving to Randy and Melissa Follett’s home after Christmas. She’s already best friends with Victoria and Anna, who will be her host sisters. She’ll also acquire two host brothers.

Turning to Maryna, she said, “you are really important to me. Although we have different cultures, customs, and tastes, we have each other for support during this challenging experience. I love all the opportunities we have to be together because you, more than anybody, can understand me.”

Finally she thanked those Rotarians who have been closest to her – her counselor Martha Wells, Nancy Hargrove, Linda Karen Smith, and the Remys. She demonstrated her skill at learning our language when she said “Y’all are invited to visit my country. I promise that all the people you meet will be very friendly. Thanks Starkville Rotary Club for accepting me as one of your honorary members, I will never forget this wonderful experience.”

She presented President Ned Browning with a banner from her sponsoring Rotary Club of Ambato and in turn received a Starkville Rotary Club banner.

Thanks to the efforts of Vicki Burnett, SHS Counselor Juawice McCormick, and others, she’s going to be the first of our Rotary Youth Exchange students to be awarded a diploma at SHS Commencement in May.

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