September 8, 2008 Rotogram


Today we welcome Starkville Postmaster Mac Flynn.


The Appalachian Leadership Honors Program will be next week’s program topic. Guest speaker is Hawken Brackett, a senior Fellow in MSU’s Sonny Montgomery Chapter of the ALHP.


Invocation and Pledge: Richard Blackbourn

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

Guests and visitors: Visiting Rotarian Bonnie Dretler of the Orchid Island Club, Vero Beach, Fla., was guest of her brother, John Simpson. Other members’ guests included Dale Tate of Steve Taylor, Everlyn Johnson of W.C. Johnson, Mark Crigler of Jimmy McPherson, Stanley Shows of Hank Moseley, Steve Chrestman of Bill Ford, and Todd Fountain of Brent Fountain. Club guests were Nia Romero and Taka Sato, Youth Exchange Students, and Jarrod Reneau, Ambassadorial Cultural Scholar.

Kudos: President Chip complimented Rotarians and friends on recent accomplishments.

  • Claire Crawford, our youngest Paul Harris Fellow, won the national Jennifer Pham Memorial Award for demonstrating community leadership through her Claire’s Bears and Operation Smile.
  • Kristi Brown had a nice Starkville Daily News write-up about her book.
  • Bricklee Miller was recognized in the Commercial Dispatch for events at the Mississippi Horse Park.
  • Sheila Freely appeared in the Starkville Daily News presenting a USDA grant to the Bradley Water Association.
  • Frances Coleman and the MSU libraries were recognized in a national publication.

Club notes: Visiting Rotarian Bonnie Dretler brought the Rotary Minute emphasizing the variety of clubs in Rotary International. Her Vero Beach group runs 20 members per week in summer, but jumps to 75 to 100 attendees over the winter.


Eleven Rotarians joined Joe Fratesi, community service chair, in the annual Get Swept Up! event last Wednesday. Tom Ball, Dave Boles, Ned Browning, Peggy  Buckley, Ed Clynch, Susan Gamel, Mark Guyton, Debra Hicks, W.C. Johnson, Debbie Nettles and Keith Remy hit Main Street at 7:00 a.m. Ruth Remy also joined the group. Rotarians Steve Grafton and Melissa Dixon put in their time with the downtown merchants group.


Second of the top 6 long range planning committee recommendations is to bolster the Club’s foundation for philanthropic work. President Chip said that Rotarian Lynn Richardson has “done her best to get me to come up with some fun thing to raise funds in the Club.”

Chip said he would merge these two ideas by suggesting that Rotarians honor others by contributing to the foundation in their names. Kicking off the effort, he presented a personal check for $40 to commemorate the 40 years of service of now honorary member Terry Thomas.


The Member Classification Committee has recommended and the board has approved two proposed members

W. Dale Tate, currently a Rotarian in Columbus, is senior vice president and senior lender at Bankfirst now in Starkville. He is a scoutmaster and former Columbus Link vice chair. He was proposed by Steve Taylor.

Dennis R. Bock, BancorpSouth Starkville vice president is very active in the community.  He was proposed by P.C. McLaurin.


President Chip read an update letter from Stu Vance, district polio eradication chair.  Polio now is confined to very limited geographic areas in India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although the U.S. was declared polio-free in 1994, the nation is only “one airplane flight away from a recurrence of the disease.”

RI has entered into a dollar-for-dollar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s commitment of $100 million over the next three years. This amounts to $1,000 per year per club.


With the first football game only a few days away the last time we met, Brad Pendergrass, assistant athletic director for MSU football, refused to make any predictions for the 2008 Bulldog season. “We don’t make predictions. We intend to play to win every game,”

There’s no question that coaches and fans have high expectations for the Bulldogs, building on last year’s 7 – 3 season, a Liberty Bowl Victory, and Sylvester Croom’s being named SEC Coach of the Year.

Before saying much about the football team and season, Pendergrass talked about “exciting changes” underway in Mississippi State’s overall athletic program.  He praised the abilities and enthusiasm of Greg Byrne, MSU’s new athletic director.

As the youngest athletic director in Division I, Byrne has new and fresh ideas. He pays attention to details but lets the staff do their jobs. His online Thursday Update is designed to keep fans fully informed.

Although there is always resistance to change, those that are now underway or contemplated are being carefully planned to respect and build on past achievements, he emphasized.  “Our goal is to be first class in everything we do,” said Pendergrass.

The heavy rains of tropical storm Fay proved the value of the Palmeiro Center. The football team didn’t miss a practice preparing for the televised opening game against Louisiana Tech. The indoor facility is even more valuable for baseball according to Pendergrass.

The new 36,000 square-foot athletic academic building should be finished soon, but probably won’t be in service until next semester.

Work is progressing steadily on the new high definition video board in Davis-Wade Stadium. Flat screen televisions have been added to all the sky boxes.

Renovation of the women’s basketball locker room is underway.

The soccer field has new seating and press box.

While there has been significant progress, facilities for all sports need upgrades, and he said fans can expect a capital campaign.

Football ticket sales are significantly up, indicating the excitement and interest in this year’s team.

Pendergrass said that 500 new parking places were added but 150 were lost to construction. “If you have a problem, don’t call me, call Bart Gregory (Bulldog Club field rep),” he joked.

“We appreciate your support through the Bulldog Club and season tickets.  But if you’re out of town on game day, please get your tickets to someone. Please have someone in your seats.”

Turning briefly to the 2008 football Bulldogs, Pendergrass said Coach Croom sets commitments rather than goals. He aims to develop character not characters in the program.”

He said every player was in place for the 7 a.m. practice that day. They are in class until lunch then have an afternoon meeting. The 2½-hour practice starts at 4 p.m. Players have dinner then a required 2-hour study hall.

“Players pay a high price,” he stressed, “academically, socially and athletically.”

“This is a unique year in the SEC,” Pendergrass said. “There are new staffs and seven of the 12 teams have new quarterbacks.”

Finally, he reported that recruiting for 2009 has “been unbelievably good. We will sign 23 to 25, and 20 have committed already. There’s a lot of talent in Mississippi this year.”

When asked where the football players live, Pendergrass said that it’s mandatory for all but 4th year players to live on campus. Then they can move off campus IF their GPA is at least. 2.6 and they bring a copy of their lease. Currently,  22 of 125 players live off campus.

The players eat in Perry Cafeteria (training tables are not legal), but there will be cafeteria in the basement of the new academic building so players in all sports can eat supper there between practice and study.

Previous post:

Next post: