September 15, 2008 Rotogram


 The Appalachian Leadership Honors Program is the subject today for Hawken Brackett, a senior Fellow in MSU’s Sonny Montgomery Chapter of the ALHP.


District Governor Joel Clements will be with us next week. A member of the Waynesboro Club, he is a former member of our Club.


Today is the annual opportunity to discuss prospective Club members. Seating has been assigned to encourage folks to go beyond their usual familiar groups and to brainstorm about community leaders who would make good Rotarians. Peggy Buckley, membership development chair, reminds us that we gained 17 members, but lost 15 last year.


Invocation and Pledge: Jack Forbus

Attendance: There were 108 members (34 exempt) present, and 91 (21  exempt, 9 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Members’ guests included Dale Tate of Steve Taylor, and Les Potts of Brian Portera. Club guests were Nia Romero and Taka Sato, Youth Exchange Students, Jarrod Reneau, Ambassadorial Cultural Scholar, and Brother Rogers of the Boy Scout Troop 14 Committee.

Makeups reported: Lee Beck at Pontotoc, Carey Hardin at Galesburg Sunrise Club, FL, Lynne Richardson at Greenville, and Susan Gamel at Calhoun City.

Club notes: Jack Forbus, past district governor, reported on money gathered to aid Hurricane Gustav evacuees. If members are interested in contributing to aid fellow Rotarians in the affected area, they can make checks to the Starkville Rotary Foundation.

Upcoming meetings of note include the Sept. 29 visit by Marie Antoon, Mississippi Public Broadcasting executive, to brief us on the “Between the Lions” literacy project; and, the Oct. 6 Fall Social and Silent Auction to “raise a Rotary roof” for Habitat for Humanity.

Rotary Minute: Dora Herring, chair of the Archives Committee, explained that our archives are kept by the MSU library and contain a great deal of Starkville history. Additionally, the committee is responsible for the Club’s extensive banner collection and scrapbook.

Kudos: President Chip complimented two Rotarians:

  • Melanie Mitchell is one of 12 Mississippi realtors chosen for the Courageous Leaders Training Retreat in North Carolina.
  • Don Zacharias was honored with the dedication of the Zacharias Village housing complex at MSU.


Perry Sellars, scoutmaster of Rotary-chartered Boy Scout Troop 14, accepted the first of the year’s two $1,500 support checks. He reported the troop’s major growth to 63 members this year. Forty-one of the young men attended the summer session at Camp Seminole. Two of them earned Scout Lifeguard status; 15 participated in the Mile Swim; and 120 merit badges were earned. Sellars offered the troop’s services as “drought busters” after the recent canoe trip on Bear Creek saw 4 inches of overnight rain. Three leaders are scheduled for Wood Badge training in Jan. and Feb. The troop’s Pilmont Scout Ranch contingent consisted of 7 boys who hiked 63 miles in the New Mexico mountains.


Catching up on recognition of his 2006-2007 presidency, Larry Mullins was presented with a Paul Harris Fellowship by immediate past president Ned Browning. Robert Clark, Annual Giving/Permanent Fund chair, noted that the Club recognizes each president as a Fellow.


The seemingly humble postage stamp keeps increasing in cost, and Starkville’s postmaster says we can expect to see it increase every May.

Since 1971, the U.S. Postal Service has been a government affiliated business that gets no taxpayer subsidies. As business costs rise, so does the price of mailing items.

The fuel crisis is a prime example of cost increases. With the nation’s largest civilian fleet (219,000 vehicles), the USPS incurs $8 million additional expenses per year for every penny rise in gasoline prices.

Postmaster Mack Flynn, in his fifth year of service in Starkville, has served in 9 Alabama postal centers over his 35 year career. He said he was drawn to Starkville by the fact that his oldest daughter “graduated from ‘The W’ and didn’t come home,” so he wanted to be near his grandchildren.

The nation’s second largest employer (685,000 career employees) uses planes, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, helicopters, bicycles, hovercraft and mules to deliver212 billion pieces of mail daily to 300 million people in 148 million homes.

Pioneering the use of energy-efficient equipment, the postal service has the largest fleet of alternate fuel vehicles. In addition to the largest number of solar photovoltaic systems, the service is experimenting with GM hydrogen fuel cell minivans in Cal. Segue scooters have been tried in Columbus.

In 2006, the local post office was recognized as the best unit of its size in the Southeast. Starkville sees 21,000 daily deliveries. Local revenue of $3.3 million is up 24 percent from last year.

More than a half dozen alternate locations offer stamps and other service at cost locally. Online access is bringing more services to customers.

Intelligent mail bar codes are the next major innovation on the horizon. This coding facilitates better tracking of mail pieces.

Before the meeting, several Rotarians had asked about the appearance of the 13-year-old Starkville Post Office building. Flynn said, “When I first came here, the first fit I had was about was the condition of this building.”

“The biggest problem is that the building is going up in the air,” said Flynn. “We all expect buildings to sink, but not this one.”

Since Flynn has been on site, the building’s windows have been reset to combat leakage.

A $500,000 project to stabilize the building is scheduled to start in Oct. Engineers have tried to identify the problem with cameras under the structure.

Responding to questions, Flynn reported that although most buildings that he has worked in have been leased, our local office is owned by the Postal Service.

Automation has made it possible to reduce the clerk staff from 13 to 9 people in the past 5 years.

He noted that a machine can process 34,000 pieces of mail in an hour as compared to 6,000 pieces processed manually. Not having a sorting machine in this post office, the staff sends the bulk of the local mail away to be organized. It is cheaper in the long run to ship this mass to Grenada and back than to handle it locally.

Responding to a question about Sat. delivery, Flynn said that Congress had requested a study of the feasibility of moving to 5-day service. There apparently would be little or no cost savings. The problem is that the volume of mail that moves 7 days a week does not let up over the weekend. The result is a glut of mail especially on Tuesdays after a holiday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Rotary Youth Exchange Student Taka Sato celebrated his 17th birthday (Sept. 6) with a cake cut by Linda Karen Smith and provided by Keith Remy. His host parents had a party for him at the FUMC tailgating tent then introduced him to American football...MSU style. One of his "aunts" gave him a bully bell, but he couldn't ring it much because it was too loud for folks around him! But it will be good souvenir back in Japan!

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