Monday, June 22, 2015

Service Above Self in Puerto Penasco, Mexico

TODAY IN ROTARY Gil Trujillo, Richard Isom, Linda Sappington, Ted Dodge and Collin Davis reported on their week in Puerto Penasco, Mexico where they provided "service above self" for 4 days prior to the District Conference.

During his year as District Governor, Mike Wells, a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Tooele regularly told the nearly 1800 members of 47 clubs in Rotary District 5420, "if it's not fun, you're doing it wrong!"  So, its no surprise, when this dentist-by-profession proposed his 2014-15 district conference be held - not in their home state of Utah - but up to 1000 miles south in Mexico, those who know what part fun plays in his life, simply said, "where do I sign up?"

This memorable District Conference was held June 12-13, 2015 in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, but the fun actually began 4 days before the conference when more than 750 Rotarians, family members and friends came together to complete about 50 humanitarian service projects in this little town, approximately 200 miles from Phoenix.  The conference and service activities took a year of planning and about $12,000 in Rotary grants and 3 times that much again in individual club contributions but in a week's time, District 5420 accomplished a Herculean amount of work including:

·                providing dental care (extractions and fillings) for 293 people
·                building 3 2-bedroom, 2-bath cinderblock houses (which will be completed by others for “gifting” around Christmas time)
·                furnishing and gifting 4 homes to qualified families in need of safe housing
·                cleaning the hard drives, downloading appropriate software and donating 65 iMac computers for use in the Escuela de Rotaria Elementary School and another 80 pc’s to Escuela Numero 27 (comparable to a U. S. middle school)
·                landscaping a new dialysis center
·                paying for and delivering an ambulance for the dialysis center (a cost of about $14,000)
·                paying for and delivering 4 school buses
·                creating a computer lab with tablets and a flat screen TV for training high school students on the use of technology
·                donating a year’s worth of internet service to these schools
·                donating “a truckload” of school supplies
·                delivering and distributing about 125 t-shirt dresses for little girls, shorts for little boys and a bunch of wooden toys from the Happy Factory in Cedar City
·                building a 12x20” addition on the Piñata House where young people with disabilities, from blindness to cerebral palsy make piñatas to sell to local souvenir shops to earn a small income
·                working with employees of the Pinata House, completed 200 pinatas which will fund the program for almost two years
·                created a library at a local elementary school
·                distributing 1500 pair of prescription glasses and sunglasses
·                painting the Escuela de Rotario school a beautiful pumpkin orange and installed fencing and donated playground equipment for the kids
·                refurbished 50 school desks

Of course, in this beautiful community located on the Sea of Cortez, it wasn’t all work!  After an average of 5 hours a day in the hot sun with humidity almost equal to the temperature, Rotarians, their family and friends enjoyed swimming, shopping the street markets, socializing, shrimp the size of your fist and a Fiesta with music, dance, food and fireworks, organized by the 1-year-old Mar de Cortez Rotary Club, based in Puerto Penasco.

No question, there were a few naysayers and certainly not every Rotarian in Utah attended, but those who did are changed forever.  None of those 750 attendees, despite their age and background, will ever say, "it can't be done" because DG Mike Wells proved a small contribution of time can make a huge difference in addressing overwhelming needs.  It can truly be said, District 5420 took up the RI challenge for 2014-15 to "Light Up Rotary" during one week in June and made the impossible happen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Farewell to Dan and Bunny McArthur

In the overly crowded boardroom at the headquarters of McArthur Welding, Rotarians enjoyed a delicious Mexican lunch, a Readers Digest version of Horseplay and the chance to bid a fond farewell to Dan McArthur, who, with his wife Bunny will report on July 1 for three years of service as President of the Mexico Monterey West Mission of the LDS Church.  In this new assignment, he will oversee the missionary work of 220-240 young men and women - "mostly Hispanic kids," said Dan.

McArthur Welding, which was officially established by Eldon McArthur in 1942, has evolved into a successful family owned and operated business without any bank loans and with only word-of-mouth as their advertising plan.  According to Dan, Durant (“the scientist”) left the family business to pursue a career working with plants.  Dan , Sam, a couple of sons and a daughter-in-law are the workforce which keeps the business moving forward. 

“I always wanted to be a doctor,” said Dan, “but a chemistry class at BYU changed his plans.  I’ve never worked so hard for a D+.  After I graduated, Dad asked me to come back to St. George and run the business.  He said, ‘you won’t be wealthy, but you’ll have sufficient for your needs.’”

Sam will take over as the company’s CEO.

Members of SGR wish Dan and Sam well in their new assignments. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lane Ronnow Has a Story to Tell

Lane Ronnow, a fairly new member of SGR, a busy political activist, a 2012 candidate for Governor of Utah, and the host of Southern Utah Live's “A Story to Tell” states “Lou Gehrig was not the luckiest man in the world… and Jimmy Stewart knows nothing about ‘A Wonderful Life’, compared to the life I have lived.”

In his youth he learned a great life lesson while working at the Grand Canyon Lodge. “It’s not the job you have; it’s the way you do the job you have,” he told members of SGR.

Lane, who attended SUU, UCLA and the University of Utah, has had a rich career path including work as the Controller of the Housing Authority of Kern County; as the Business Administrator for the Morgan County School District; and as the Director of the Saint George Housing Authority.  He has also served as Salt Lake County’s Justice Court Judge, as the Director of the Salt Lake County Building and Zoning Enforcement Department; and as the Chief Deputy School Superintendent, Yuma County Schools. 

During his presentation to the club, Lane shared snippets from some of his recent interviews.  And, he continues to look for people with interesting stories to tell.

Monday, June 1, 2015

SGR's Topic is Math

TODAY IN ROTARY Jeff Humphreys from the BYU Math Department spoke on the “Art and Science of Predictive Analytics,” a combination of creativity and skill to determine patterns and future trends and outcomes using analytical data.  According to the professor, the recent boom in data processing has many causes including computers which have doubled in performance every two years; new algorithms which work really well; and the doubling every two years of data.  Said the professor, “our ability to collect data vastly exceeds our ability to analyze it” when such data giants as Google, the NSA (which by itself has more than 5000 mathematicians on their payroll), imaging technology needs, telecommunications, Amazon, Wal-Mart and NASDAQ have huge demands in the 21st century (aka “Age of Information). 

Using the black box model, the art is in the question.

With the gray box model (used for such things as predicting weather and deciphering handwriting), the art is in both the question and the solution. 

He then spoke of the data analyzing educational capability of BYU noting “the feds have thrown an obscene amount of money at us to create duplicable models” through tightly integrated studies.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Family Support Center Receives Rotary Support

From left:  FSC board chair Kerry Prince, Roger Nelson,
Pdt. Janet and Chris Nelson
TODAY IN ROTARY we heard from social workers Chris and Roger Nelson about the Family Support Center and remembered our friend and fellow Rotarian Shar Heitkotter who was a strong supporter of the local non-profit children’s crisis and respite care nursery.

"She wasn't easy on us," noted Chris Nelson, speaking about her organization's former chairman of the board.  "But she was our biggest cheerleader and brought balance to our organization, always making certain we kept our finances in order and paid attention to the smallest details of our FSC operations."  Chris also noted Shar's favorite things to do included ringing the Salvation Army bell during the holidays, gift wrapping in the mall and providing company sponsorships wherever she worked - all in support of FSC.  

The Family Support Center, located at 310 W. 200 North in St. George, serves children, ages newborn to 11 years old on a first come, first-served basis or by appointment, although the organization's crisis nursery and emergency respite programs are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  The Family Support Center, in a clean, safe homelike environment, provides parents with a little break, a little help and a little support in challenging times ... and provides children with fun, structured activities; nutritious meals and a place where they feel safe and comfortable.  

Their list of available services include a crisis nursery, respite, visitation exchange, resource and referrals, parent support, foster care and adoption support respite.  

A check in the amount of $424 was presented to the Nelson's.  These funds raised during April's Horseplay activities will be used to cover costs for drop-in childcare services for families in crisis.  In accepting the check, Roger and Chris noted they also need volunteers, board members and support for their fundraising events, including a mini-golf tournament generally held annually in April.

For more information, call 435-674-5133 or on the internet see 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Allred Makes Plea for Organ Donations

David Prisbrey and Brandon Staples, both sponsored by Jim Coleman with a classification of Escrow were inducted into SGR today bringing our total membership to 72 which means "more Rotarians, more service!"

Our program featured Roger Allred, one of SGR’s newest members, shared his amazing experience as a heart transplant recipient.  In 1996, he was in excellent health when he climbed Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the “lower 48” at 14,505 feet at the summit, with one of his three sons.  Two years later, he experienced a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or mini-stroke, which doctors determined was the result of a heart which was not beating hard enough and allowing blood to puddle in the life-giving organ.  His doctor recommended a pacemaker which sent a small electronic impulse to his heart “when it needed it to stay in rhythm,” but his medical team soon found out “my heart constantly needed to be paced.”

Roger noted his life in 1998 was a continuous round of “work, church and sitting on the couch” suffering from extreme fatigue, caused by cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart muscle (literally “heart muscle disease”). Doctors implanted an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) which would shock his heart back into rhythm, similar to the paddles used in hospitals,  if he were to experience ventricular tachycardia or “sudden death syndrome.”  “But, it wasn’t just a simple shock … it was as if someone had picked up a baseball bat and hit my chest as hard as they could,” said Roger.  It happened 11 times, but “I never knew when it would happen so I lived with that anxiety for about 5 years.” 

In April 2011 he was told, “you’re dying” because the doctors had done everything they could with drugs and devices.  Roger’s name was then added to the national transplant program list managed by UNOS (which now includes over 100,000 waiting for an organ donation) while doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital worked to keep him alive until an organ became available.  Only 18 days later, he received the heart of a 22-year-old man killed in an accident in Northern California.  He left the hospital with 17 prescriptions, but is now taking only two immunosuppressant drugs.  He also undergoes an angiogram every year to monitor his health.  To celebrate his "brand new life" Roger and all three of his sons climbed Mt. Whitney only 16 months after the transplant.

He closed his presentation with a plea for organ donation to provide others with “a brand new life” who would otherwise live a compromised life or die from a variety of diseases.  Roger's daughter created a touching video to promote organ donation.  See it online at or register to be an organ donor when renewing your driver’s license or by going to

Monday, May 4, 2015

4-Way Test Essay Contest Winners

From left:  Timothy Isom, Kristine Sewell, Kamille Finklea, Addilyn Walker, Emily Gomez, Ellie Coder, (back) Kristie Wheeler, Elle Melo, Jonathan Naylor, Sydney McCaul and WCSD Superintendent Larry Bergeson.

“It’s a good way to trick students into loving to write,” said Kristie Wheeler, 6th grade language arts teacher at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School, speaking about St. George Rotary Club’s 10th annual 4-Way Test Essay Contest.  “And, its good for these kids to know someone thinks what they have to say is important.”

At the recent weekly meeting of the local service club, Wheeler and two other language arts teachers, parents and members of St. George Rotary Club heard the seven 1st and 2nd place winning essays in this year’s competition from among more than 300 entries this year. 

To participate, students in four intermediate schools in the Washington County School District were invited by Chairman Durant McArthur and his committee, to put their thoughts in writing about someone they know who best exemplifies Rotary’s 24-word test of ethics in all aspects of life:  is it the truth?  Is it fair to all concerned?  Will it build goodwill and better friendship?  Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Awarded a $50 first prize at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School is Addilyn Walker, daughter of Rachel and Jacob Walker, who wrote about her own father.  A second place prize of $25 went to Emily Gomez, daughter of Adriana and Rodrigo Gomez, who shared respect and admiration for her dance teacher.

At Lava Ridge Intermediate School, first place honors went to Jonathan Naylor, son of Merry Kay and Cordell Naylor, who wrote about his best friend. Sydney McCaul, daughter of Joe and Andria McCaul, was the second place recipient for her essay about her mom, who she said “is a perfect example of Rotary’s 4-way test.”

Ellie Coder, daughter of Shana and Zach Coder, a student at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School, was recognized for her well-written thoughts about her mother who lives both the letter and the spirit of the 4-way test.  Also at Sunrise Ridge, Elle Melo, daughter of Katie and Iuri Melo, showered praise on her language arts teacher, whom she reports “works us hard because she loves us and wants us to succeed.”

Timothy Isom, the lone participant from Tonaquint Intermediate School, took home the 1st place award for his insightful essay about his father’s influence in teaching him the principle of honesty.

Language arts teachers in the WCSD, with at least a 30% participation in the contest, were also awarded $200 to use in whatever way the teacher deems appropriate.  Recipients included Kristie Wheeler from Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School with 100% participation among her students; Kristine Sewell from Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, who had 119 of her 139 students participate and called the exercise “an opportunity to have a little glimpse into their personal lives”; and Kamille Finklea from Lava Ridge Intermediate School, who noted, "sadly, for some of these children, finding a positive role model in their lives was the hardest part of this assignment."