Sunday, April 26, 2015

SGR Celebrates Spring

On a windy Friday, April 24 evening, members of SGR, a few from RRR and DSR, gathered at the home of Dan and Cindy Strobell to celebrate our membership in Rotary and to say goodbye to this year's nine Rotary exchange students before they return to their homes and families in countries around the world.

Taiga Ichikoa from Japan spent the school year supported by the Springville Rotary Club.  Antoine L'Hotis of France studied and lived among the members of the Bountiful Rotary Club.  Erik Lewis, a student in Cedar City, is from Sweden.  Javi Fuentes, of Chile, is finishing her school year supported by the Salt Lake Rotary Club.  Lucie Badenhorst from Switzerland, has enjoyed her time as the Rotary Exchange Student supported by the Ogden Rotary Club.  Alice Noce from Italy is living in Grantsville and supported by the Tooele Rotary Club.  Matt Molina from Brazil and Ari Madorell from Spain both represent the South Jordan Rotary Club.

The evening was filled with laughter, good food, basketball, volleyball and a little bit of swimming by those under 16 who were brave enough to take the plunge.  We also had to run for cover a couple of times due to an occasional sprinkling of rain - much needed in our desert community.  Thanks to Janet for all her hard work in organizing the event and to all those who contributed to the pot luck menu.

Monday, April 20, 2015

SGR Hears from Big Brothers / Big Sisters

TODAY IN ROTARY members of SGR heard from Cassie Ballering, Community Recruitment Coordinator with Big Brothers / Big Sisters of Washington County which has a vision for all children to achieve success in life.  The organization’s mission and purpose is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally support 1-to-1 relationships to change their lives for the better … forever!

The organization recruits volunteer “Bigs” for community based, school-based and workplace mentoring to provide children with role models who support their dreams and hopes for the future.  Volunteers, willing to make a commitment of no less than one year, are matched with an at-risk child for activities together, homework assistance and hosting children from nearby schools in the workplace.

Fundraising activities held locally include the recently held Bowl for Kids Sake event.  Still being planned for 2015 are the Mustache Dash and the Great Big Barn Party.  Ongoing fundraising activities include donation bins around the community to collect gently used clothing, shoes and household items which last year raised $2 million in the state of Utah.

Financial support and volunteers are still needed for more than 20 kids currently on a waiting list for a Big of their very own.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Joe Andrus and Family Healthcare

Joe Andrus, SGR’s newest member sponsored by Richard Isom and with a classification of Insurance Sales, was inducted today.  Joe brings our total membership to 68 + 6 Honorary members.  "More members, more service" means a better world!

TODAY IN ROTARY our speaker was Lori Wright, Director of the Family Healthcare Center.   She replaced former Rotarian Nancy Neff at the community-based and patient-directed non-profit organization facility which has provided comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary health care services since 2002 to now more than 10,000 medically underserved residents, including vulnerable populations and others with limited access to health care.

According to Wright, approximately 55% of those they serve are below 100% of the national poverty level, but her organization also welcomes local residents who have insurance coverage but no medical home.  With 43 employees, the Family Healthcare Center provides services including family practice, treatment for mental health and chronic illness and other services “to keep patients out of the emergency room.”  The center also provides discounted medications and office visits for students in the Washington County School District for $10. 

Partners in their work include, but is not limited to, Intermountain Health Care, Washington County School District, the Association for Utah Family Healthcare Centers, the Utah Department of Health, SW Behavioral Health, the Doctors Volunteer Clinic, The Learning Center for Families, the Dove Center and Switchpoint.

Hours of operation at the St. George Clinic, 25 N. 100 East, Ste. 102, are Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  A clinic at Millcreek High School, and another in Hurricane, are both open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday, April 6, 2015

All About Car Shows and Guatemala Stoves

TODAY IN ROTARY Ken Sizemore shared tentative plans about the upcoming Dixie Rotary Car Show, scheduled on October 9 - 10, the weekend between the two weeks of the Huntsman World Senior Games.  Altough the original plan for this event was to hold it at the old airport facility, because of a conflict with another event being held there, the DRCS will be held at Sunset Corners, thanks to the generosity of owners and former Rotarians Mans and Gilbert Jennings.  

How will money be made from this project?  Ken noted they hope to have 250-300 cars and will charge $5 per person to view the display of vintage, restored hot rods and other vehicles.  There will also be an entry fee for each car (categories and awards to be announced).  Food vendors will be invited to take part, as well.  

SGR’s assignments are registration / admissions and sponsorships.  The schedule of activities to be completed include:

In April:  Identify sponsors, finalize the logo, and distribute Save the Date cards to participants

In May:  commit sponsors

In June:  solicit vendors and tape radio ads

In August:  start the ad campaign

With time to spare, Ken turned his presentation to the Guatemala stove project.  The date for travel to Guatemala this year is May 23-30.  Activities and service projects will include building stoves, training local midwives to provide newborn respiration to babies thought to be stillborn, dentistry, education to help those who speak only the Mayan dialect learn Spanish and distributing food and clothing (including shoes).

For more information about either of these projects, contact Dan Strobell or Ken Sizemore.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lowry Tells of Success of Legislative Session

TODAY IN ROTARY Lowry Snow, just back from the 45-day Legislative session. noted "it is an honor to serve" the people of Washington County in the House of Representatives.  While there may be a need for a special session in the summer months, Lowry indicated he is pleased with the amount of work - 528 bills - done by those elected officials who also have regular jobs, homes and families.  

He reminded members in attendance, "Utah is the #1 U. S. state for doing business, #1 in job satisfaction, #1 for volunteerism, #1 for the nation's lowest divorce rate, and #1 for the lowest hours worked per week."  

At the end of the session, Lowry's newsletter to his constituents spoke of some of the major bills passed.

Budget and Funding:  Once again we balanced the budget. We had some additional revenues this year to allocate, and that helped us support some specific needs in our area as well as statewide needs.  Public Education received a major boost to the tune of about $510 million representing a 4% increase to the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) which is the largest increase to public education seen in many years. We appropriated $30.5 million for the Dixie Applied Technology College, which allows for the building of a permanent campus on the old St. George airport site.  This will not only be a great addition for post high school education in our area, but will provide economic support by providing a campus that will allow for future student growth as we continue to prepare a labor force to meet the growing demands for skilled workers in all areas of applied technology.  The Business Resource Centers in St. George and Cedar City will receive funding along with the Youth Receiving Centers.  We saw additional funding supporting the arts to benefit the Tuacahn Center and the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Elementary Arts program. 

Anti-discrimination and Religious Freedom SB 296 & 297:  Senate Bill 296 passed both the Senate the House and has been signed by Governor Herbert.  The bill is intended to provide protection for those in the LGBT community from discrimination in housing and employment.  At the same time, the bill provides for protection of religious beliefs, and represents a compromise of the two interests.  The companion bill SB 297 seeks to further protect religious freedoms by giving county clerks the ability to opt out of performing same-sex marriages, if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. However, if the clerk declines, he/she must make other arrangements by having some other person perform the marriage in order to accommodate all requests. In addition, the bill provides other government employees protection from discrimination or retaliation on the basis of religious beliefs. It also protects religious organizations from being forced to recognize or solemnize a same sex marriage or provide accommodations or facilities to solemnize or celebrate a same sex marriage. I believe these bills represent a compromised resolution of a long standing debate in our state. They are intended to find a balance of respect of citizens’ interests on both sides of the issue. 

Healthy Utah and Utah Cares - Medicaid Expansion:  Governor Herbert’s plan, Healthy Utah, was revised in the latter part of the session to include a probationary period of two years. In this modified form, it passed the Senate and moved on to the House where it was eventually heard by the House Business and Labor committee, but failed to come out of that committee.  The House version of Medicaid expansion was known as Utah Cares, a scaled-down version.  This bill passed the House late in the session but the Senate did not take it up for consideration.  Accordingly and unfortunately, the question of Medicaid expansion and health care for those in need in our state was not resolved before the end of the session. However, on the last day of the session a bill was passed by both houses in the form of a resolution calling for the Governor to continue working with leadership of both the Senate and the House to reach a compromise that can be voted on in a Special Session in the summer of 2015 that would be called for that purpose. I fully anticipate that the leadership of the 3 branches will come up with an acceptable compromise and we will address this issue within the next few months.

Criminal Justice Reforms:  HB 348 provides for several reforms in the way criminal justice is administered in our state.  One of the primary objectives of this legislation was to reduce correctional costs by reserving incarceration facilities (jails and prisons) for violent criminal offenders and providing more treatment options for drug offenders, other than those involved in drug trafficking. Also, the bill places more emphasis on reduction of recidivism by doing a better job of supervising released parolees.  Incarceration is necessary for certain offenders, but it is becoming increasingly more expensive. This bill begins a process by which the state takes a smarter approach by following the lead of many states who have already adopted these measures successfully.

Transportation funding and Gas Tax:  At the end of the session we approved the first major overhaul of transportation funding since 1997.   We increased the current gas tax of $.24 per gallon by $.05 cents which will eventually increase to a specific percentage based on a three-year rolling price average of the wholesale price of unleaded gas with a ceiling of $.40 cents per gallon. This issue has been studied in depth by the legislature for several years and while no one likes to see an increase in taxes of any kind, the fact is that our fuel tax implemented many years ago simply has not kept pace with inflation.  Revenues have been further eroded as our autos have become more effiecnt.  Action needed to be taken or the problem would simply continue to get worse in time and ultimately the fix downstream would be even more expensive.  In addition to the fuel tax, we gave a local option to counties to impose an additional .25% sales tax for roads and mass transit, but only if approved by the voters.

State School Board Election SB 104, SB 195 & HB 186:  Last fall, Utah’s Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled Utah’s process of electing members to the Sate School Board was unconstitutional.  Accordingly, there were a number of bills run this session which would have changed the process for electing/selecting members to this important body.  SB 104 provided for partisan elections. SB 195 provided for partisan elections unless voters passed an amendment to the Utah Constitution that would authorize the governor to appoint members. HB 186 provided for nonpartisan elections.  None of these bills were successful, leaving the issue to be decided by the legislature.  I believe the matter will be addressed further during the interim and we may see brought back as part of a Special Session.

Death Penalty Procedure Amendments:  This bill reinstates the option of death by firing squad for those sentenced to death in capital cases in our state.  The purpose of the bill was not to replace the current use of lethal injection as a means for imposing the death sentence, but as an alternative only in the event drugs used for lethal injection become unavailable.  The Governor recently signed the bill into law, notwithstanding his office having received a significant number of communications and signed petitions from thousands opposing the legislation albeit most in opposition to the death penalty itself.

Constitutional Carry Amendments:  Bills were opened in both the Senate and the House which would have made carrying a concealed weapon by any adult legal without a concealed weapon permit.  The House bill was withdrawn voluntarily by its sponsor Rep. Oda after consulting with the Governor.  The Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Hinkins passed the Senate but was not taken up by the House to be considered before the end of the Session.

Here are a few of the bills I sponsored which passed successfully and which I anticipate the Governor will sign into law:

HB 25 Water Law- Application Amendments:  This bill improves the process by which the State Engineer evaluates and approves water change applications. In addition, the bill provides that any applicant considering filing a change application will have the right to meet informally with the State Engineer for a consultation. 

HB 41 Local Economic Development Amendments:  This bill provides a scaled down version of a local incentive program used to attract and recruit new businesses and creation of higher quality jobs. The bill streamlines the process, thus saving local entities time and expense in the creation of development districts and attracting new industry and jobs.

HB 80 Transportation Project Amendments:  This bill allows the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to conduct its own study and approval of environmental studies required by federal law (NEPA) for major highway transportation projects in our state, rather than waiting on the Federal government to conduct its review and obtain its approval.  This new process will save the State significant time for obtaining approvals and thus substantial money by being able to accelerate completion of major projects. 

HB 35 Parent-Time Schedule Amendments:  This bill provides for an expanded minor children visitation schedule for parties involved in divorce proceedings and may be utilized by the courts in making orders dividing time of each parent with the minor children.  Under certain qualifying conditions, a non-custodial parent could be granted a more expanded visitation schedule than the minimum schedule as currently exists under the law. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Coleman Reports on India Travel

TODAY IN ROTARY Jim Coleman, a longtime member of SGR, shared his experiences on a return trip to India where he served as a GSE team leader in 2006.   On this trip the PDG traveled 37 hours to spend 17 days in India where he participated in a National Polio Immunization Day in Dibrugarh, Assam.  For several hours, the St. George realtor, father and grandfather helped in the distribution of two drops of polio vaccine to children he had never met, nor would ever see again, to protect them from the debilitating, crippling, even fatal, disease of polio.

“To be part of the immunization team, to deliver the vaccine to an infant in his mother’s arms or to an apprehensive toddler unsure of what this activity was all about, was life-changing, not just for the recipient but also for the one doing the immunizing,” states Coleman of his experience.  “Some of the children stepped right up, tilted their heads back and opened their mouth, as if to say, ‘Thank you for helping me to have a normal life free from this terrible disease’.”

India - polio free for three years - is Rotary's fastest growing area in the world, attracting tribesmen as well as polished professionals who proudly declare "together we defeated polio."  It is a country of “classes and castes among people of prosperity, poverty and pollution” but they are working toward unity among diversity.

For more information, contact Jim at jim@rotarymatters.com.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SGR Hears About HWSG's Successes and Future!

From far left:  Roger Allred, Kurt Johnson, Cort Matthews,
Lane Ronnow,
Nick Lang and Jeff Morby
TODAY IN ROTARY, SGR officially welcomed 4 new members:  Cort Mathews with a classification of Home Health and sponsored by Brent Guerisoli; Roger Allred with a classification of Business Consultant and sponsored by Kurt Johnson; Lane Ronnow,  a Business Consultant sponsored by Nick Lang and, returning member Jeff Morby with a classification of Property Management is sponsored for a second time by Linda Sappington.  With the addition of these four outstanding business and community leaders, SGR now has a current membership of 69 with 6 honorary members!!!  More members means more service to our community, our district and the world!

Today’s speaker Kyle Case, CEO of the Huntsman World Senior Games provided impressive numbers relating to the success of the event he has directed for the past nine years.

Now in its 29th year, the HWSG’s is the world’s largest event of its kind with 10,853 participants in 2014 … larger than the London Olympic Games with a mere 10,350 participants. 

·               19 of the 28 sports in 2014 saw a substantial increase in participants
·               In 2014, the games had 2244 new athletes – those who had never participated in past years – which means the word continues to get out to the world about this fun event and what a welcoming community St. George is!
·               Softball had 340 teams, while volleyball had 192 teams and pickleball maxed out 550 participants registered in 22 days and SG City is in the process of doubling its courts to 24
·               The games brought in $19,195,217 new dollars which are doubled, tripled, even quadrupled in the local economy
·               Two new sports – small bore and shuffleboard – were added last year and expected to grow substantially in the second year of play

In 2015:
·               Opening ceremonies will be held on Tuesday, October 6 with the 2nd week opening ceremonies scheduled on the DSU campus on Tuesday, October 13
·               Registration opened on March 1 and pickleball maxed out by March 3 with women’s 50+ volleyball category now closed
·               As of March 16, 1385 participants have already registered for the event
·               New branding is in place to give the games a new look

Rotarians are encouraged to “register today to compete, volunteer or sponsor” in the Huntsman World Senior Games October 3 – 17, 2015.