October 8, 2007 Rotogram


Welcome to our second annual “Fall Social.” It’s the only Rotary meeting of the year when we don’t have a speaker and there’s no business to conduct – just a time to meet, eat, socialize, and have fun. It’s also a great time to get acquainted with newer members.


Next Monday, our guest will be Lewis Whitfield, senior vice president of the CREATE Foundation. He will discuss CREATE’s dropout program.


Invocation and Pledge: Ernie George.

Attendance: There were 117 members (86 actives, 31 exempt) present. Missing were 50 active, 23 exempt, and all 10 honorary members.

Visitors and Guests: Visiting Rotarians were Eddie Longstreet of West Point and Susan Beckett of Bruce, MS. Guests were Ben Griffith of Matt Cox; Jim Beckett of Jack Forbus; and Judy Couey and Walter Gonsoulin of Phil Burchfield. Club guests were RYE Students Maryna Melnik and Negrita Caicedo; Nicole Thomas (Starkville Public Schools); Skip Descant (Columbus Dispatch); and Shoshanna Brackett (Starkville Daily News).

Makeups: Gary D. Jackson, Sept. 7 in Winona; Larry Mullins, Sept. 27 in West Point.

Rotary Minute: Frank Chiles gave the week’s Rotary Minute, focusing on Rotary’s 4-Way Test. Referring to the September issue of THE ROTARIAN magazine , Frank suggested all Rotarians should follow the example of Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. The son of the founder of the Walgreen Drugstore chain and a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago, called the 4-Way Test “a prescription for living, a new version of the Golden Rule” (see pp 28-21).

The 4-way test was formally adopted by the company in 1955 and can be found in every Walgreen store across the nation. Frank said he stopped by the local store and confirmed that the 4-Way Test is indeed on an office wall and is emphasized at every staff meeting.

Rotarian Charles Walgreen followed the 4-Way Test throughout his long and fruitful life – he died in February at the age of 100.


If you were at Rotary Monday, you shook hands with our newest member, Joe Blackbourn, who followed his assignment as greeter with a brief “job talk.”

Joe is a native of Blossom, Texas. He started to high school when he was 16, finished his freshman year, then joined the Navy. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during WWII, then returned to finish his education.

He taught science and coached in Texas public schools for 18 years, then earned his doctorate. “I came to Mississippi State in 1968, just as integration became law, and worked with schools statewide. I’m proud of Mississippi’s behavior during that difficult time. Our problems were few and minor compared to other states,” he said. “It was the high point of my career.”

The father of Rotarian Richard Blackbourn who is MSU Dean of Education, said he’s proud that his two sons are both in higher education, even though one is at Ole Miss!

The MSU Emeritus Professor says his main occupation these days is “chasing turkeys all over the country.” He also sings in “Men for the Master” and follows Mississippi State sports. His sponsor is Roy Ruby.


The $26.2 million school bond issue that we will vote on tomorrow will answer two questions:“Do we care about the economic future of our community and Mississippi State University? and “Do we care about the future of our children?”

With that opening statement, Roy Pollard, co-chair of the bond issue committee, introduced Jeff Cassady, co-founder and president of SemiSouth. The company has grown to 70 employees since it was started in 2000, and is a strong supporter of education.

“Our growth wouldn’t have happened without our educational system. The community’s schools are critical in recruiting new employees.”

Cassady said that potential hirees, especially international prospects, have the wrong image of Mississippi from the media and Hollywood. “When we bring people here, they are interested in seeing the community, especially our schools. They compare our educational system with that from wherever they are coming. They expect public schools to mirror the community.

“We look upon the school bond issue as an investment in education, but even more as an investment in the community,” he said.

Pollard said the needs to be addressed by the school bond are those identified as highest priority in a long-range strategic plan developed through years of planning. He then called on Rotarians Shelton and Briar Jones to go over the plans for renovations and additions to each of the schools.

Shelton showed the proposed floor plan for Starkville High School. The main entrance will be redesigned with the central office immediately inside. Counselors and the career center will also be at the main entrance. There will be student entrances on either side so visitors will avoid most of the student traffic flow. A new classroom addition will be constructed at the north side of the present building and the 40+ year-old two-story building will be renovated providing seven new classrooms.

Shelton said Sudduth Elementary is badly in need of additional classrooms. A two-story addition with 11 new general purpose classrooms, music and art classrooms, and a physical education facility will be made on the east end of the school. The present physical education room will provide space to expand the cafeteria.

Briar took over to explain changes on “the Hill.”

“Buildings on this campus are very old. At first, it was a full campus (all grades).” He said one of the first orders of business will be removal of the 13,000 square foot metal building that was originally a storage shed but has had to be used for classrooms. The two-story Henderson building will be renovated and a new addition with 26 classrooms will be built.

The project has been carefully planned for connectivity, student traffic flow, and outside traffic flow for busses and parents dropping off and picking up children.

The second most expensive changes will be at Armstrong Middle School, which will be adding a class to its student body. A 25-classroom two-story addition is designed for five teams of 6 th graders. Briar said each team (90 students) will have three classrooms. The cafeteria will be expanded and special classrooms will be provided for music, art, and VIVA.

The question was asked about estimated construction costs. Shelton said the cost will be approximately $145 sq. ft. (not significantly more than current costs of residential construction). The $26.2 million list of improvements was prioritized from the original list of needs that would cost some $50 million.

The additions have been planned to leave adequate space on all campuses to meet needs of any future expansion.

Asked what other bonded indebtedness still exists, Larry Box said 10 years remains on the 1985-86 bond but all previous bonds have been paid.

Passage of the bond issue will increase taxes for the majority of homeowners in the community significantly less that the cost of a cup of coffee a day. According to the bond issue brochure, the increase on a home valued at $200,000 would be ONLY 45 cents a day. Have you had a small cup of Starbucks lately?

Tomorrow’s referendum requires a 60 percent YES vote to pass. Ask yourself the two questions Roy Pollard posed in his opening remarks, then go to the polls and VOTE.

Previous post:

Next post: