September 14, 2015 Rotogram: 10

HPC2 Strategic Initiatives

Retired Air Force General James Poss is Director of Strategic Initiatives in MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory based at the Stennis Space Center. Stu Vance introduces him.

Next Week: Mississippi’s News Scene

Wyatt Emmerich is president of Emmerich Newspapers, and a widely syndicated opinion columnist. He is a fellow Rotarian.

For the Record—August 31

  • Invocation and pledge:              Bud Gordon
  • Attendance:                                        75.2%
    Present — 115 (43 exempt)
    Absent — 64 (12 exempt, 12 honorary)
  • Makeup reported: Joe Bumgardner.
  • Guests: Member guests were William Ashley of Carey Edwards, Masood Shahverdi of Mike Mazzola and Jessica Hubbard of Jeremy Nicholas. Guests of the club were Savanah Hubbard, Benedetta Trentarossi, RYE student, Connor Guyton, Starkville Daily News, and Carl Smith, Starkville Dispatch.

Meeting Notes

  • President Zach congratulated Guy and Nancy Hargrove on their 50th anniversary.
  • P.C. McLaurin had a TIA mini-stroke, but his wife Barbara reported he was doing well at the stroke center in Tupelo.
  • John Forde promoted the annual Department of Communication golf tournament for scholarships on October 9. He invited members to play, sponsor the event or donate door prizes.
  • Members were reminded the Rotary exhibit is available for promoting the club.

District Grant Funds

We have received $6,224 for projects from district grants. Funds are provided by the Rotary Foundation as a way of redistributing members’ foundation gifts for local community service.

Foundation funds accrue through the annual fund for which members receive Paul Harris Fellowship recognition. Our club is an EREY (Every Rotarian Every Year) unit with each member donating at least $100.

Funds returned to the club through grants significantly extend our service reach by allowing us to assign more of our budget to other requests from community organizations. The grants include $1,715 for Youth Exchange, $3,484 for Excellence in Education, $525 for Between the Lions and $500 for Third Grade Dictionaries. These dollars account for more than 12 percent of District 6820 funds.

Youth Exchange Student of the Week

Savanah Hubbard of Starkville Academy was recognized as RYE Student of the Week. Among her many accomplishments are Anchor Club vice president, junior class secretary and Thespian Society president. A member of the quiz bowl and soccer teams, she also is a Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership delegate with a grade point average of 91.

Resignation

The board has accepted with regret the resignation of Austin Shafer due to his change of jobs and schedule.

Starkville Police Department Seeks Greater Community Involvement

August 31—At just over a year-and-a-half into his tenure as Starkville Police Chief, Frank Nichols said he is nearing his initial goals for the department.

“When I took over, I didn’t have the secret for what Starkville needs, but I did have a vision from the Lord,” said the 17 year veteran of the SPD. “Believe it or not, I’ve met about eight of my ten objectives. The rest of them, I need your help on.”

The Starkville native’s first objective was for the department to get more active in the community. One of his key moves was to get on social media.

“Anything that goes on in the police department, we put it out there on Twitter or Facebook,” he said.

Next, he implemented four sub-stations to get his force into the community. Officers now leave calling cards on doors or cars overnight to let citizens know they are on patrol.

To get to the heart of the community, he instituted a chaplaincy program. The SPD now has 12 chaplains sworn-in. They pray with the shifts and are available for officer counseling.

A crucial issue is manpower. Nichols explained that the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends 2.5 officers per 1,000 citizens. At about 25,000 population, Starkville’s 65 officer force seems reasonable. However, he reminded us that at least 10,000 students live in the city, but are not counted in the census. In contrast, Oxford has 70 officers with a smaller local and campus population.

Noting that the board of aldermen had approved expanded numbers, he expressed hope to have ten more officers within four years.

The SPD has one of the state’s best training programs. However, officers can easily go elsewhere and make more money. As a benchmark, Nichols said his starting salary in 1992 was $17,200 while the sheriff’s department entry salary was $13,000. Since the county gives annual raises, it has passed the city. The sheriff’s department now has deputies making more than the city chief.

Despite tighter resources, Starkville has the lowest crime rate in the Golden Triangle. There had been discussions of a regional jail, but the idea died when the prospective contractor went bankrupt.

Currently, the jail is maintained with county contracts. The SPD has used the county unit since about 1990. Nichols said there are plans to re-open the old jail facility for ten more beds for the city. And, there are four beds available in West Point.

The SPD was reaccredited in June and is only one of seven departments in the state with that distinction. In 2007, it became the first unit in Mississippi to reach the milestone. Of Mississippi’s 82 counties, Oktibbeha is the only one with the city, county and campus departments accredited.

With Mississippi State University’s high traffic events, the city force sees greater demand than a city of comparable size. During the last football season, the chief had to make it mandatory that 75 percent of the force had to be at work.

To alleviate the demand, the board of aldermen has approved the enlistment of part-time officers. Right now traffic details are voluntary, but Nichols wants to pay certified part-timers. He has at least five to come out and help. Trying to get everybody out of town as quickly as possible, the department stations officers at every intersection on Highway 12.

Neighborhood watch programs and community meetings are set to deal with rumors and to help monitor.

A citizens’ police academy now has 12 graduates with the next class starting in June. The goal is for people to see how policing works.

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