Posted by Dene Hadden
SPOKES VOL. LXV NO. 8                                                                               August 21, 2018
Tony Martorano and Steve Miles were our greeters this morning.
President Mark Odland opened today’s meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and Tom Renner provided the invocation.
President Odland introduced guests Jim Bright, Rotarian from Bloomington, IN, District Assistant Governor Dyann Chenault, Don Schook, Lars Larsen and Sue Mark, along with our speaker Sheriff Dan Abbott.
Our spotlight this morning included the presentation of yet another Paul Harris Fellow, this time to our Rotarian of the Year, Scott Mark.  Scott, accompanied by his wife Sue, was presented with his award by President Odland.  Scott becomes the 73rd Paul Harris fellow from our club and the 29th current club member who are Paul Harris Fellows.
Music this morning was a bit disheveled.  We started out with a Rem Wallish version of “Red River Valley”, one of the older songs in our repertoire, a folk song written in the 1870’s.  We began to follow that up with “She’ll Be Commin’ Round the Mountain” which originated from an old gospel tune, “When the Chariot Comes”.  Unfortunately, our music playing apparatus decided to only play certain sections of this song, and at unexpected intervals, destroying song leader Bob Boerma’s serious attempts to get us under control.  We did manage to sing the last verse without music.  We finished with “Smile, Sing a Song”, including a special ending prepared especially for us by director Boerma.
  • Jerry Gruber reminded us that the annual picnic date has been changed to tomorrow, Wednesday 22nd at the Gruber cottage.  It’s BYOB and BYOC (Chair).  Everything else will be provided, maybe even some entertainment!  Anyone who did not get signed up or needs directions can call Jerry at 269-906-2236.
  • On September 18th any candidate for public office will be able to present their program to the club.  The time will be divided into equal segments so each candidate/proposal will have equal time.  Please let Bob Straits know if you know a candidate who wants to appear in front of our group.
  • Dyann Chenault praised us for our support of Rotary International as we are the top club in our district and area.  She is visiting all of her clubs to let them know how they are doing as our district has one of the lowest rates of support worldwide.
  • Jeff Melvin, who also serves as president of the Bangor Lions Club and Tom Ruesink announced we would have a box available beginning next week to collect old eye glasses for distribution to those in need – a long held passion of Lions clubs worldwide.
  • We received a nice thank you from the Southwestern Michigan Land Conservancy and the We Care Food Pantry for our donations.
  • Anyone interested in purchasing individual District Foundation lottery tickets should do so in the next week or so.  See President Odland.
  • President Odland mentioned a positive comment Nick Tuit made about Spokes.  Your editarian want you to know it is done quickly because otherwise he would forget what actually happened, especially Bob Copping’s jokes, and would have to make stuff up.
Jerry Portman won the pot this morning and donated his meager winnings (the pot was drained last week by law enforcement personnel) back to the club.  Tom Renner won the $2 prize.
  • Nick and Nancy Tuit are celebrating 52 years of marriage this week.
  • The children of Tom and Karen Ruesink were pleased to announce their parent’s anniversary this week, their 55th.
  • Steve Larsen was pleased that two sons of Rotarians helped the boys tennis team achieve a victory yesterday.
  • After paying his fine, Bob Copping announced that he has completed a 13 day diet in only 3 days!!
  • Larry Wittkop cheered for the Tigers this week, in the faint hope they could upset the Cubs in Detroit.
  • Glenn Pietenpol sold our extra eggs to the Golden Brown Bakery but forgot to include the 35% kick back to our supplier.  He is asking for donations so he can avoid any retribution.
  • Scott Mark thanked the club for the honor of becoming a Paul Harris Fellow.
  • Tom Renner, not to be outdone, actually sang the Cub’s fight song to support his Cubs as they defeat the Tigers this week.
  • Dan Thompson was pleased at the turnout for the Wounded Warriors tribute last weekend.
Tony Martorano introduced Sheriff Dan Abbott
Sheriff Abbott is from Van Buren County and Bangor in particular, went to Ferris State and then moved into law enforcement in Van Buren County, serving in a variety of posts befor being elected Sheriff.
He is a big supporter of the several specialty courts that we have in Van Buren County.  When he first became involved in law enforcement he thought that we should just lock everyone up, regardless of their offence.  Today he sees the advantage of working with offenders to help them solve their problems.  He has seen a reduced recidivism rate since the establishment of these courts.
He is also involved in several other programs including a Fight Crimes program for juvenile crime prevention and a STOP program that will text parents if their child is pulled over for a traffic stop (after 48 hours).
He has added a captain to his staff to provide more efficiency and has already started planning his budget for 2022 when the closure of Palisades will trigger major budget cuts.
He had added two k-9 units and the will shortly have a drone available.  This is in addition to a revamped website that lists all of the services available at his office and services to victims of crimes.
Now that the jail is completed his office can now hold prisoners from other counties at a profit, although he focuses on prisoners from surrounding counties.  The biggest problem is drugs, opioids in particular although they are seeing an increase in Meth, especially in the southwest corner of the county.  He said that jail overcrowding is not a problem and that occupancy is back up where we needs it to be rather than where we would really like it – zero.
He has instituted a stress relief training program for his officers and paramedics and fire personnel.  They handle up to 20,000 complaints and take action on ¾’s of those, so stress is an important consideration for the health of his officers.
He feels like he has a good relationship with the other departments in the area.
It is pretty clear that Sheriff Abbott is not a fan of the current marijuana ballot issue and is concerned about its effects on hospitals, jails and unemployment.
President Odland thanked the Sheriff for his presentation and presented him with our speaker’s pen.
We closed our meeting with the Four Way Test.
Next week’s program: Glenn Pietenpol will introduce Stephanie Kohler from Lory’s Place
Next week’s Greeters:  Bob Straits and Bill Roberts
Editarian:  Dene Hadden