SPOKES VOL.LXXIV NO.33             March 3, 2020   

We were greeted warmly this morning at the Black River Barn Event Center by Bob Boerma; Stuart Comiskey was also warmly greeting those who were purchasing raffle tickets.

President Odland welcomed everyone to the event center, and we opened with the “America the Beautiful”, followed by Art Ayers’invocation, which offered healing prayers for Bob Stickland, Jerry Portman, Tom Fleming, as well as our Rotarian chef, Matt Shafer.

Bob Stickland is currently at Lakeland Health Rehabilitation, 400 Memorial Park Drive, Watervliet. He is undergoing extensive rehab, following his skiing accident, which left him with a broken hip, requiring surgery. Visitors are welcome... \Jerry Portman, who sustained spinal injuries, also in a skiing accident, is home and obediently wearing a “clamshell” to limit mobility. He says that he’s not experiencing much pain, but he, thankfully, is healing and just a “tad” impatient... Tom Fleming continues his rehab, following heart surgery, while Matt Shafer was hospitalized for three days earlier this week with an on-going issue. Cards are certainly much appreciated in all cases...

Guests: Dyann Chenault, District 6360 Assistant Governor, Area 2, from Benton Harbor-Sunrise, Carole Hodgman (Don), Ann Gruber (Jerry), Sue Mark (Scott), Sophia Torres (granddaughter of Deb Davidson), Returning Snowbirds: Dan Thompson, Don Dobbins, and Pete Swanson. WELCOME BACK!!!

Announcements: Blessings in a Backpack on Friday, March 6th, at Lincoln Elementary. Please arrive by 1:15pm... We need another greeter for Tuesday, March 10th. Please let President Odland know if you can help... President Odland provided an update on Bob Stickland and Jerry Portman, to which I already referred... Those who have not received our Rotary directory updates, they are available in the rear of the facility... Music Update: Our new twenty-two song playlist has been completed. This past week, at Peace Lutheran Church, former music instructor John Bright was recorded, on a grand piano, providing the background music for our newest songs. MANY THANKS, not only to John, but also to Bob Boerma and Sue Duvall, for their hard work putting this together... Dan Thompson reminded all of us that nominations for our annual awards (Club Hero, Educator of the Year, Rotarian of the Year, and Citizen of the Year) are being accepted. Nomination forms are available on our website and, needless to say, we were encouraged to make a nomination or two...Scott Mark announced that merchants who donate goods and/or services towards our Educational Fundraiser would receive a Rotary decal to display in their window. Another nice publicity feature!.. Dyann Chenault shared a few District notes: upcoming officer training in Battle Creek, focusing on club continuity, especially when changing presidents, club goals are due online by March 9th, the Paul Harris Gala has been postponed to November 12th, reminder concerning the District providing matching funds for accelerated Paul Harris membership. One must be within $500 to participate... President Odland mentioned the most recent District 6360 Newsletter, which included a nice photo of our Rotary ice sculpture from Ice Breaker weekend, as well as a related article. Also included is an article by Art Ayers, regarding the mission of Dr. Martin J. Graber. Art and his wife, Kris, recently returned from visiting Dr. Graber in Kenya... MANY THANKS to Tom Renner for those submissions!.. President Odland also made reference to Dyann Chenault’s comment about club goals, indicating that our membership goal for the past year was to reach a total of 60 members...We now HAVE 60 members!!!.. Anyone interested in serving as a marshal at the Senior PGA Tournament, held in Benton Harbor, the week prior to Memorial Day, please see President Odland or Dan Thompson. Our South Haven Rotary Club is responsible for Hole #2.

MUSIC: Our maestro this morning, in a canary yellow sweater which matched our president’s attire, was Larry Wittkop. Larry handled all three songs with great aplomb, as usual. Featured today were: “Stodola Pumpa”, “School Days”, and “Sing Rotarians (On Wisconsin)”. With the echo provided by our expansive venue, we sounded GREAT!

RAFFLE TICKET DRAWING: Without hesitation, our Sergeant-at-Arms, Stuart Comiskey, went straight to our youngest attendee, Sophia Torres, for the first drawing.Dan Thompson had the winning ticket; however, he drew the “2” card, meaning the “pot” was safe for YET another week. Art Ayers, following a momentary lapse regarding what actually was occurring, secured the $2 winning ticket.

BIRTHDAYS/ANNIVERSARIES:Ted Weber mentioned having four birthdays within his family, either in the last few days or in the next few: grandchildren Kadyn and Joshua, as well as Ted and Julie... Pete Swanson’s grandson, Oscar, celebrated his 14th birthday... Tom Renner announced that son Daniel not only was celebrating a birthday, but also received a promotion within the East Lansing Fire Department...Richard Swanson’s wife, Marilyn, had a birthday last Friday, while Richard celebrates his on Sunday. Due to our multiple programs, it was decided to pass the basket.


Art and Kris Ayers visited fellow South Haven Rotarian Dr. Marty Graber in Kenya from January 21st to February 3rd. In providing his slideshow, Art was pleased that he could show more of life in and around the village of Ngoswani than, perhaps, members of our group had seen previously.

Slides were shared depicting: Marty’s residence and the surrounding area, William and Juliana Luka’s residence, the hospital grounds, the Central District, the county seat, Narok, a church service at the African Gospel Church, the school where our club contributed the funds for the building of five classrooms, a day well spent at the Masai Mara Game Preserve, and more... As Art said, their visit was “An EXTRAORDINARY experience on SO MANY levels!”

MANY THANKS to Bob McAlear for arranging our “road trip”!

Our host and hostess,James and Nicole Slott, did not make a formal presentation, but answered plenty of questions as the tour progressed.

Their story is an interesting one...From their website:

“Having grown up in West Michigan and spending summers at the lakeshore, sister and brother team, Nicole and James Slott, knew they had wanted to grow their business here at home. Thus, was the beginning of Ilios Investments, a Real Estate Investment firm. Nicole runs a successful consulting business and coaches volleyball; James runs two car washes and a laundromat, as well as coaching lacrosse. Together they formed Ilios Investments, which currently owns several commercial buildings, a blueberry farm, and the property on which the Black River Barn is built.

The Black River Barn was an idea that evolved from a simple request for a wedding space from one of our friends...The mission of the Black River Barn is to provide a unique Wedding/Meeting experience that will provide the participants with a lasting memory of their special event.”

MANY THANKS to Nicole and James for a very informative tour, and to Art for what was a more personal glimpse into the lives of Dr. Marty Graber and the Maasai people!

Next Week’s Greeters: We need a volunteer; however, I’m unaware of who else is to greet. Stay tuned!

Next Week’s Program: City Manager, Brian Dissette will speak on our high water issues. Don Hodgman, chair

We concluded the meeting with the Four-Way Test.

Seasonal Editarian: Art Ayers