Looking ahead to new Rotary year

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Newly inaugurated President Lynn Westberg talks to guests gathered at the Wagon Wheel Ranch on County Road 204 for the Rotary Club of Durango’s changeover party Tuesday evening.

Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? And will it be beneficial to all concerned?

This is the Four-Way Test Rotary International asks members to use when considering what to say or do.

Because this is going to be a bit of a Rotary month, as I catch up with the three clubs in Durango, it seemed like a good way to start, exploring what Rotary is, and what the Rotary Club of Durango, High Noon and Durango Daybreak Rotary clubs do for our community.

Today’s column focuses on the Rotary Club of Durango, or the “Tuesday Night Club,” which is the granddaddy of them all, founded in 1929 with a charter presented by the founder of Rotary himself, Paul Harris.

The club held its changeover party, thanking the outgoing and welcoming the incoming president on Tuesday night. The event was held at the Wagon Wheel Ranch, Rod and Laurie Barker’s property on County Road 204, northwest of Durango. Rod Barker is a second generation member of the club.

The event has a lot of traditions, as one might expect from a club that is 83 years old.

Guests arrive to libations – as the only club that meets at night, members can relax a little more than their fellow Rotarians who have to return to work. Dinner was catered by Strater 1887 Catering and featured salad, broccoli and roasted potatoes with entrées of grilled steak and grilled salmon with beurre blanc sauce. Dinner was a scrumptious peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

All year long, the sergeant-at-arms collects “Happy Dollars” and fines for tardiness and failing to wear one’s badge. Oh, and getting one’s name in the Herald. A lot of you better start getting out your wallets.

At the changeover, they collect one last round of money and then auction off the whole pot for a donation to the Rotary Foundation. Thanks to the able auctioneering of Mark Horn and his cohort in crime, Jeff Speicher, they raised more than $2,000 from the auction of the pot.

The real business of the evening is looking back on the last year and forward to the next. Outgoing President Randy Smith had a lot to talk about, but since he doesn’t like speechifying, he kept it pretty simple.

The club, which has 38 members, was proud to be the home club of the 2011-12 district governor, Roger Ptolemy. Part of being the home club meant helping put on this year’s District Assembly, which was held at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort last fall. (The other La Plata County clubs pitched in, too.)

The group held Christmas party complete with gifts at the Durango Community Shelter, held a blood drive, gave matching grants to the Medicine Horse Program and Southwest SmileMakers and participated with the other clubs in buying dictionaries for all the third-graders in the county.

Smith’s final duty as president was to select the club’s Rotarian of the Year. Lynsey Powell, is a relatively new member, but that hasn’t stopped her from jumping in with both feet to work on the club’s various projects. She was a fine choice.

This is the point where I insert the disclaimer. My father, Charlie Butler, was a member of the club for more than 30 years, and it’s the Rotary Club I knew growing up. When I was hired to write Neighbors, I was asked what my plans were for the column.

“Cover service clubs and nonprofits, because they’re not getting enough credit,” was my answer. I haven’t always done a good job on the service-club front, so I’m playing catch-up.

My dad started the Youth Exchange Program in 1969, before he even joined the club, so it was lovely to see the club’s exchange student this year, Cheng-Lin Yu of Taiwan, choking up as he looked back on the year of adventure, learning and making friends.

In Taiwan, he goes to school until 9 p.m., so the whole concept of sitting down to dinner with the family and having time to talk was a custom he grew to love. The clean air, the slower pace of life and the fact that students in school had opinions, asked questions and just didn’t sit and listen as children in his home country do were all surprises. But his single best experience? The first time he went to Serious Texas Bar-B-Q. Now, there’s an endorsement!

While in Durango, he lived with the family of Scott and CeCe Sallee and Kip and Laura Stransky, who have hosted eight students in eight years and have been wonderful ambassadors for Durango and the U.S.

New President Lynn Westberg will use the results of a recent strategic planning session when it comes to making decisions and plans next year, and it’s clear she isn’t going to be afraid to shake things up a bit.

Horn and Speicher also auctioned the leftover liquor to pay the bar bill, but Horn slightly, OK, significantly, underestimated how much wine was left in one bottle, and bidding winner Terry Swan will never let him forget it. I foresee a big fine for Horn to kick off the next annual pot.

The club meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday nights in the Pullman Room of the Strater Hotel.

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Hoping for some precipitation for their birthdays are Carol Salomon, Wilbur Rossmiller, Sylvia Kehle, Kay Cooley, Nicholas Dudley, Ryan Ehrig, Lia Neergaard, Ann Duft, JiggerStaby, Karyn Gabaldon (happy 30 years with the gallery), Janet Williams, StewartLeach, Jay Hurtado, Dylan Baken, Pauline Ellis, Allison Betts, Danette Jenkins, Crystal Willmett, Paul Beauregard, Chris Scott, David Jackson, Nancy Brown, Vicky Moreno, Katie Hotter, Yvonne Portell, Amber Lashmett Levine, Jack Morrison, Clay Siekman, Sharon Watkins, Arnold Trujillo, Ron Anderson, Paul Mills and Jodie House.

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Happy belated birthday wishes go to Chapter CS of P.E.O., which celebrated its 75th anniversary May 26. It was organized May 25, 1937, which may make it the second oldest women’s club in town after the Reading Club of Durango. (Some investigation may be required.)

Members have raised money all these years to provide educational opportunities for women.

They gathered at the Kennebec Café in Hesperus and enjoyed white-chocolate and lemon-mousse cake. Musical hits from the ’30s provided a soft soundtrack to the gathering.

P.E.O. sisters brought items of interest from the time period and explained the items’ significance in their families. Tables were decorated with antique dishes and toys from the decade.

Duane Smith was the guest speaker and entertained the ladies with a slide show on life in Durango and around the world in the 1930s. Talk about a thorn among the roses! (Sorry, Duane, I couldn’t resist.)

Marguerites, a flower similar to the daisy, and stars adorned the dessert table, and guests went home with marguerite flowers preserved in glass and made into magnets as a remembrance of the day.

The festivities ended with a quote: “Reach high for stars that lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”

Many congratulations to Chapter CS for 75 years of philanthropy, and my thanks to AnitaWigton and Glennie Ritchie for serving as the correspondents on this item.

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Looking for some shade to celebrate their anniversaries are Warren and Ruth Phillips, Ed and Phyllis Tucker, Jeff and Erica Max (28!), Jim and Marjorie Appel, David and JeannieBennett, Kip and Nellie Boyd, Trent and Gisele Pansze, Bob and Donnis Lawrence, Steve and Beth Scales, Darrell and Diane Trembly, Darren and Tonya Wales and Randy and Kathy Black.

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The Durango Discovery Museum’s annual bash Daddy Fest is rocking downtown today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in front of Carver Brewing Co.

Whether or not you are celebrating with your dad, a beautiful day with live music, beer, fun and hey, miniature golf, cannot be beaten.

The museum relies on the community to keep the doors open. Come down, grab a Carver’s brew and enjoy.

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I have begun including information about how to submit photos for consideration for Neighbors in my sign-off. Newsprint is a notoriously unforgiving medium for printing, so we need to start with a high-quality photo. I’ve pushed the envelope in recent months on quality, but I want my column and your stories to look their best, so I’m lowering the boom. It’s better to run without a photo than with a bad one.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high quality, high resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory), include no more than three to five people, and I must know who’s whom, left to right, and whom to credit with the photo. Candid photos are better than posed, and they should be sent as an attachment.

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