SPOKES VOL.LXXIII NO.32       February 25, 2020   

Our greeters this morning were Bob Boerma, Jeremy Burleson, and Art Ayers.

President Odland welcomed us, and we opened with the “God Bless America”, followed by Art Ayers’ invocation, which offered healing prayers for Bob Stickland, who broke his hip and required surgery at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. Prayers were also offered for Tom Fleming and his recovery from heart surgery.


Guest Speaker: Ricky Coats, Plant Manager, Albemarle Corporation

Spotlight Speaker: Rich Chapman, representing the local chapter of the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association

+++Those who attended our meeting will recall, I hope, that we did not follow our typical agenda order; however, you’ll note that I DID in my minutes...


+ President Odland congratulated DEB DAVIDSON on her upcoming retirement! He then shared an article and photo of Deb in today’s Herald-Palladium, highlighting her many years of service to our community. Thank you, Deb! CONGRATULATIONS!

+ MANY THANKS to Bob and Gail Brickman for continuing to provide updated pages to be added to our Rotary directory. The latest packet of pages included our six newest members. 

+ SO NICE to have “FINGERS” GRUBER back with us, following his, and Ann’s, sojourn to the south! 

+ A reminder that next week’s meeting will be held at the Black River Event Center on 73rd Street.

SPOTLIGHT SPEAKER: Rich Chapman, Steelheaders

Rich indicated that The South Haven Steelheader Chapter is one chapter within the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association (MSSFA). Their mission is to take part in “educating the general public on improving, preserving, and promoting sport fishing in the Great Lakes and their tributary streams and rivers”.

Highlights of his presentation:

+ Support for the Near Shore Data Buoy. If interested in donating, you may go to https://www.gofundme.com/shbuoy19. Your donation will help deploy and maintain the buoy and is tax deductible.

+ There were 580,000 requests for data from the buoy in 2019.

+ Maximum wave height in 2019 was 17 feet on Oct 16th, which had a daily average of 12 feet.

+ The SH Steelheaders offer college scholarships to students who enroll in a Natural Resources curriculum.

+ This year’s Fishboil will be held on August 8th, during the Blueberry Festival. It is their biggest fundraiser and, last year, they served 1180 meals in four hours.

+ They were recognized as the 2018 non-profit of the year!

+ The fish cleaning station has exceeded expectations.

President Odland thanked Rich for his spotlight presentation and presented him with the $500 donation from our South Haven Rotary Club.



With a lengthy program, as well as a spotlight presentation, we did not have time for our songs.


Without hesitation, our Sergeant-at-Arms, Stuart Comiskey, went straight to Jerry Gruber for the first drawing. 

Tom Renner had the winning ticket; however, he drew the “10” card, meaning the “pot” was safe for yet another week. Bob Boerma secured the $2 winning ticket.



Most of our membership contributed “Happy Bucks” this morning, with the exception of a few (at least those I could hear): Bob Copping slowly rose from his seat...and we knew his words of “wisdom” were coming. Bob proceeded to let us know that “Menards isn’t making yardsticks any longer”. Who knew?; Tom Renner saluted Deb Davidson on her retirement and for her service.; Larry Wittkop referenced today as “Fat Tuesday”...Paczki time!; Jerry Gruber wished his brother, Earl, a Happy 89th Birthday! We sang a spirited traditional “Happy Birthday” to Earl who resides in California.

PROGRAM: Ricky Coats, Plant Manager, Albemarle Corporation

Steve Miles, Program Chair, provided a brief introduction.

Ricky mentioned that he has been with the plant in South Haven for four years. He is a native of South Carolina, where he spent half of his career. He has been involved with the Albemarle Corporation for thirteen years, beginning as a chemical engineer.

Albemarle is a global company which employs over 3500 world-wide and is based in North Carolina.

Regarding Albemarle’s history in South Haven, it began in 2006, when Catalytical Pharmaceuticals sold their plant to Albemarle.

Albemarle’s South Haven site is FDA registered and implements a full service cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) in the production of over forty different products, from APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and advanced intermediates, to FDA-regulated additives. An API is the part of any drug that produces the intended effects. Some drugs have multiple active ingredients to treat different symptoms or act in different ways.

The plant has a large Quality Control department, its own Research and Development department, and Analytical group.

There are several projects in progress and, hopefully, they’ll be expanding, in the near future, which would include the addition of a new building.

Albemarle has always been very active within the South Haven community and, within the past three years, they have contributed over $500,000 back into the community.

There are approximately 175 employees who work 24/7, 365 days a year. Ricky thought that of the employees currently employed, 70-75% would be classified as “local”.

Employees don’t work different shifts, as with other organizations. If you start on a particular shift, you STAY THERE. He referred to them as either “vampires” or “daylighters”.

One area of tremendous pride is their safety record. In 2018, Albemarle received the Michigan Voluntary Protection Program Star Award. MIOSHA (Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration) stated that Albemarle has a “commitment to worker health and safety protections” that exceeds what is required. Albemarle first received its Rising Star award in 2012, and was awarded its first Star award in September, 2014.

When questioned about an expansion, and whether that could take place in the area of the current plant, Coats indicated that they own thirty-two acres of “footground” so, yes, it could/would.

He indicated that the FDA can arrive for an inspection at any time; however, since they have exhibited such a fabulous safety record, those visits have not been frequent (perhaps every 3-4 years).

When questioned about the handling of chemical waste, organic waste, and hazardous waste water, Coats supplied detailed information regarding the responsible disposal of each.

He also suggested that our Rotary club might be interested in a tour of their facility at some point. It has probably been “penciled-in” already for next year.

President Odland thanked Ricky for an impressive presentation and presented him with our trademark pen.

Next Week’s Greeters: Stuart Comiskey and a volunteer.

Next Week’s Program: Art Ayers will present a program on his recent trip to Kenya, visiting Dr. Marty Graber.

We concluded the meeting with the Four-Way Test.

Seasonal Editarian: Art Ayers