Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Patrick Maue of Midwest Utility Consultants (513) 831-2800. His company helps local companies save money through understanding and setting up lower utility rates with companies. Patrick got into this business when he was a church treasurer who didn't like paying the high utility bills. He learned the trade and has grown his business ever since simply by referral from his various satisfied clients. He has not 'cold called” in years.

Anyone can go to http://www.duke-energy.com/ to see the numerous types of rates available to Ohio businesses. Patrick helped us see there are many details which go into an electric bill. Midwest Utilities also helps with other utilities such as trash, water, gas, etc. They typically share the savings with a company 50/50 for 4 years then you keep 100% of the savings. Midwest guarantees they will be within $.02 when they factor your savings or otherwise they consider themselves to be in breach of their own contract with you.

Patrick has been in business of the past 16 years. It is not unusual to save someone up to 50% of what they are currently paying. Situations vary and there are often a variety of rates and options available to your company.

A couple of questions were asked and answered:
Is the first year the baseline? No. You can look at your bill and see what rate you are on. For example: Duke changes their rates often. You can see that Duke rates have been raised 93% over the past 67 months.

Why are there not just 2 rates, commercial and residential? There are actually 5 tiers just for commercial. The PUCO sees themselves as an agent to provide Ohio with reliable energy. What this actually means is that utility companies must make money and PUCO must ensure they do.

Would Midwest help a group involved in aggregation? Yes

Our speaker next week is:
No Morning Meeting – Dan & Barb Haglage will be hosting an evening Christmas party at 6:30pm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Patsy Baughn of The Cincinnati Association of the Blind. She is the development specialist. They have been in business since 1911 when they were formed to provide employment. Their main offices are downtown but they also work out of the Senior Services building in Batavia. They provide employment such as providing tape to the government (they are the government's largest supplier). There is a 70% unemployment rate for the blind and visually impaired. Unemployment and transportation are the largest problem facing the blind and visually impaired.

She talked about how many people suffer from age related eye disorders. They have vision aids that must be prescribed (some have lights, some are on stands for those with weak hands, some are monoculars, some are binocular glasses for TV or sports watching), they teach how close to hold devices and how fast to track across pages. They provide many talking devices such as talking key chains. The association provides a special radio station which works within 50 miles of downtown called Radio Reading Services where they read several local newspapers.

She shared how blindness is increasing for several reasons such as premature birth (eyes form last). They teach children brail and help children attend school with seeing students. They have music classes for children to teach them walking rhythms or to give them an alternative to sports, for therapy, to learn how to take turns, learn names of states, learn the alphabet, etc.

There are many opportunities for volunteers. They currently have 500 volunteers who come to their downtown location to read on the radio (this can also be done over the phone), help someone go to the grocery, label cans of food, read their mail, etc.

Our speaker next week is: Ken Geiss Who will share about TIFs

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Randy McElfresh of The Ohio State Highway Patrol (513-732-1510).

He opened with a reminder that state government is now changing with the new governor coming in. The cost to run the Highway Patrol is constantly changing and will likely feel the impact of the pending changes. Their jurisdiction is solely on roads that can be traveled but never inside private property unless their help is requested by the police. Randy shared some common misconceptions about the Highway Patrol such as they don't just write tickets, sleep in the median or merely fill quotas...they have no quota for tickets.

Formed in 1933 to govern and enforce motor vehicle registration laws they've grown to also handle all issues related to motor vehicles. Randy shared with us that the main mission of the Highway Patrol is to reduce traffic related deaths. The division headquarters is in Columbus and throughout Ohio there are 88 counties, 10 districts and 56 patrol posts. The Wilmington District has 6 patrol posts...Hamilton, Xenia, Wilmington, Lebanon, Georgetown and Batavia. The patrol is feverishly working on recruitment because currently there are less than 1500 troopers in the state. They are in need of around 140 more troopers and are losing many simply because of retirement. Randy pointed out that they have been unable to find 90 qualified people for their class out of thousands tested. The patrol has a program called “Lifestat 24/7” which is designed to maximize manpower coverage during our high crash times at locations that historically have high crash problems.

The Batavia post, located in one of the busiest counties in the state, has access to 2 dogs, both sniff for drugs and 1 will chase down suspects. They have their own motor vehicle inspection unit for buses and other vehicles. In addition they even have their own video production unit for public service announcements. Staff at the Batavia post includes 1 Post commander, 4 sergeants, 17 troopers, 10 dispatchers, 2 civilian employees (a secretary and part-time maintenance person), 2 driver exam units, 2 commercial inspectors and 2 school bus inspectors. 7 units start at 6am, 1 unit starts at 6pm and 5 units start at 10pm. Each shift is covered by at least 2 dispatchers who cover multiple districts. Traffic related deaths under the Batavia Post are 2005-23, 2006-17, 2007-11, 2008-27, 2009-9, YTD 2010-16.

Randy shared the following interesting facets of The Ohio Highway Patrol:
-They protect our governor and work with the protection details of dignitaries who come to our state.
-There are 2 uniform officers who speak on behalf of their division.
-There are 3 special response teams who help with things like security at the OSU Buckeye games, serve warrants, help out much around the Columbus area, etc.
-There is a crime lab which has the best technology but not enough people to run it. Turn around time is very long unless it is a high profile case.
-The records and information unit to call up any historical information you could imagine related to motor vehicle traffic. This helps them establish schedules for coverage on the road.
-The aviation section has 15 pilots and several helicopters and planes and often they will work the 32/275 area catching folks in speed zones or people running stop signs as well as helping with searches and chases.
-There is a motorcycle section which generally runs April through November which uses lasers to write many tickets in a very efficient manner. They have been extremely helpful in construction zones.
-They handle the Drivers License Services section.
-They have a commercial motor carrier section to inspect a commercial vehicle without any kind of probable cause.
-There is a Crash Reconstruction Section to work crash sites which is on call 24/7. The Aircraft Crash Investigation Section handles crashes at the Clermont Airport, Lunken, and any other non-military crashes.

Randy encouraged us to contact him with any concerns or suggestions.

Our speaker next week is: Patsy Baughn of The Cincinnati Association of the Blind.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Jill Grubb who has been with Batavia Local Schools for three years. She is now the Superintendent of the district and came to update us about the state of the district and the challenges facing them.

The district has about 2100 students and operates 3 buildings...PK-4 (built in 1916, 5 acres), 5-8 (built 1965, 10 acres) and 9-12 (built 1997, 59 acres). They operate on a $20milliion budget which comes 50% from the state state, 44% from local money, 5% from federal and 1% from other sources. Batavia has approximately 220 employees, 2100 students and costs about $114, 618 per day to operate schools based upon 178 student days. The district realizes a profit of $657k per year from open enrollment. Over the past 13 years Batavia enrollment has grown 31% while 5 local districts have lost students. They drive approximately 1500 miles per day or 250k per year with 22 buses. A new bus costs $80k and there are no state funds available to purchase buses.

Over the past year, Batavia served 216, 883 lunches. The percentage of free and reduced lunches is 52% in the elementary, 40.5% in the middle school and 32.1% in the high school (42.8% overall in the district). Additionally, we were surprised to learn that Batavia is responsible for educating and transporting any students residing in the homeless shelter. If the students remained enrolled in their original home district, Batavia must also transport them there. The district is also responsible to educate the kids in the juvenile detention center. Batavia Local is also taking on a high number of special needs children and is required to take on as many as come in (currently over 300).

Jill spoke a bit about state funding. The state operates on a 2 year budget which ends on June 30, 2011. While Batavia is trying to plan their budget, they have no idea how much will come from the state (50% of their funding) since the state has not made their decisions yet. On the local funding front, delinquent taxes from fiscal year 2007 were $109k and from fiscal year 2009 were $450k. Several local funds were lost due to the lack of new construction, smaller valuation increases, The Ford Motor Company leaving, the Duke Energy cuts and the opportunity for revisions of property values. The last operating levy passed was in 2004. Many various expenditures have been reduced over the past few years. Grant money is used for field trips and continuing education. New revenue can come from Race to the Top money, Appalachian Collaborative, etc. However there are strings to these which don't allow them to be used for operating expenses. Batavia has had 3 consecutive years of deficit spending which has exhausted their savings. State law requires them to go to the voters for money. The district is reviewing various ways to cut over $1 million.

There are several building issues which need to be addressed. Elementary issues are the boiler, the roof and the lack of air conditioning. Middle school issues are the roof, no air conditioning, one way in and one way out and the parking lot. High school issues are the roof, HVAC system needs upgraded and the parking lot.

On the plus side, Jill said many great things are happening including the achievement of an excellent rating by the district. Batavia and Williamsburg have even begun doing some things to share space and share some personnel.

There is a community info meeting at the Batavia Township Admin Building next Tuesday Nov 30 at 7pm for anyone desiring to learn more.

Our speaker next week is: Randy McElfresh of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Dave Caudill works for the US State Department as the Rule of Law Section Chief of the Provisional reconstruction team in Baghdad. In 1995 he was the president of our Rotary club. He has been on duty in Baghdad. Dave works in Baghdad where he supervises several leaders and works with courts, bar associations, lawyers, etc. There is no continuing education, bar association or even law firms in Iraq, rather the lawyers sit around in a room and simply enter an appearance for the day. The people are however committed to the rule of law because of their religious heritage. Really they have had rule “by law” where the people in power were not really subject to law. What they need is rule “of law”. Many newer laws have been enacted since the US became involved in Iraq. Unfortunately their court system is more dependent upon confessions rather than facts and logic.

Dave often goes out into the “red zone” many times per day and has heard many car bombings and says “you would not believe how that sounds”. Dave does travel with a body guard and wears a vest in the streets. However, things today are better than we could have expected 3-4 years ago. We are very hopeful and are believing things will turn out well. The provisional teams will go away within the year. Eventually, there will be only 2 consulates and 3 embassy offices. Baghdad used to be a ghost town but now there's lots of commerce going on.

Much of Iraq's problems revolve around infrastructure issues like food, clean water, electric, etc. Their electrical grid is taking a hit because they are now allowed to buy more appliances and are even using cell phones for the first time to communicate with one another. Our corp of engineers is helping with this overload. Sadly, the electric overload is leading to much of the food that's put in the refrigerators going bad and causing food poisoning. There is even a developing middle class and the country simply needs to hold together while economic opportunities come in.

Iraq is forming a government that is Shia lead. The neighborhoods are much more diverse religiously. The Iraqi's are willing to “live and let live” and are ready to move forward. The United States has gotten away from buying bricks and mortar and have begun buying more generators. While we still buy things, more and more we are looking for Iraqi buy in. Many of our foreign partners are beginning to help even though we still have a significant role. The goal is to build a civilian society that is civilian lead and is dominated by civilian leaders.

Our speaker next week is: Jill Grubb, Superintendent of Batavia Local Schools.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Greg Sojka, Dean of UC Clermont College. Greg took us on a tour of their new facility which was formerly the Batavia Ford Plant.

Greg gave us a handy fact sheet about the college. He shared with us how nice it is to have a leased space that is 81,000 square feet over 2 floors. They leased this space from a California company who buys auto plants and leases them to folks. All of their Allied Health programs, College of Education, College of Health Sciences, etc. are located in this facility. After finishing 2 years on the first floor, a student can proceed to the second floor and complete their bachelors degree. This fall is the first offering of a bachelors degree for Applied Technical studies. All diplomas say “University of Cincinnati”. Dean Sojka is working with several deans of local colleges to broker more bachelor degrees.

We learned that students who switch to Clifton to complete their bachelors generally achieve a 3.1 or greater grade point average. They will also be switching from quarters and begin semesters next fall. They will then offer fewer, better courses. Why semesters? Well, the Dean offered a number of reasons including: several state schools are switching, it follows the local school district schedules, it allows students to get summer jobs, text books generally are not setup for quarters, 95% of colleges do this, it makes it easier to transfer to other colleges and it is encouraging teachers to review curriculum and make necessary revisions.

UC Clermont College is student centered (smaller class sizes) and faculty focused. Many students are from Brown and Adams Counties. They have had a 70% increase in students over the last 10 years. Between this campus and Raymond Walters they are educating over 20% of the student body of UC and doing if far more economically. This space is providing Clermont College with much needed “pressure release”. Clifton has no more room to expand at their location so they also can definitely benefit from UC Clermont College. There are even some students attending this college who were former Ford employees. Dean Sojka, said they are “transforming family trees” in other words, they have students who are the first in their family to attend college. Greg desires to do a dual credit program with local schools to increase college enrollment.

Dean Sojka says UC Clermont College is focused on the 2 “A's”...Accessible, Affordable (just under $5k per year – half the cost of Clifton) and Academics needed in this community.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Joe Baker of The Boy Scouts of America. Joe retired from IBM and began his journey in Cub Scouts prior to retiring. He was a den leader, then a cub master for 10 years. While Cub Scouts is ran by adults, boy scouts is run more by the boys. Joe is now a scout master in the Dan Beard Council and is a member of the American Legion.

Boy Scouts is designed to to build the character and integrity of our youth and prepare them to be responsible adults who participate in our society. Faith is also a big component of scouting. 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts have 3 big outdoor adventure areas in the U.S. and are getting ready to open another in West Virginia.

Joe came today to discuss the rich history of Rotary and scouting and to discuss working together in the future. In 1918 the Rotary was the first U.S. service club to adopt scouting. Paul Harris (Rotary's Founder) and James E. West (Boy Scouts Founder) were good friends and traveled together establishing scout councils.

Another notable historical account was when a Chicago publisher named William Boyce was lost in London in the fog and was led out of the fog by a boy scout. Boyce offered the scout a shilling and the boy refused because scouts are not to take money for their service. Scouts established a program called “Do a Good Turn” which works to tackle homelessness and hunger. They have done 5.5 million hours of service so far in this program. Scouts also work on green spaces and litter prevention and control.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Don Fairbanks of Cardinal Air Training. He wrote an autobiography called “Once Around the Patch of Life”. He trains folks to fly helicopters.

He shared about an something he participated in called Operation Carpetbaggers which was an ultra-secret deliver supplies to the resistance of France, Belgium and Norway. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and trained in the U.S. He was stationed in England and his crew was reduced to 8. He became a tail gunner for their supply plane. He was part of the 801st provisional bomb group. They has 12 highly modified B-24 “Liberators”.

They dropped 20,496 containers during the entire course of operations. The containers contained weapons, radio equipment, medicine and other equipment necessary for the conduct of military operations. In order to maintain their cover, they often carried and dropped booklets. They often dropped agents called “Joes” through the portion of the plane they called “The Joe Hole”. Overall 1043 agents were dropped in enemy territory to conduct operations.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Gail Koford the Development Director of Interparish Ministries. She began by drawing our attention to hope. Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all”. She said with the many job opportunities available now and some recent info released from the United Nations that hunger is down worldwide, there is great reason to have hope.

Although the need is still great! 14.6% of US households (49million + Americans/nearly 1 in 4 children) struggle to put enough food on the table. Moms are forced to choose pop and chips over milk and bread due to cost (also leads to obesity issues). Overall 1 in 6 Americans struggle to feed their families. The elderly are also greatly affected by poverty. Hunger America (a parent organization which filters down to local pantry agencies) estimates 27 million low-income individuals receive some type of emergency food relief services from their partner agencies. A Brookings Institute Study showed that poverty has recently jumped in the suburbs by 37.4% to 13.7 million people. Gail also shared stats by Peter Edelman (Georgetown Law Professor) about what poverty costs America. We are losing over $500 billion per year in extra costs as a result of poverty.
Inter Parish Ministry has been helping for over 46 years in Eastern Hamilton County and all of Clermont County. Their values are “always being Christ centered”, “treating people with respect and dignity” and “seeking solutions through collaboration”.

Located in Newtown and Batavia, Inter Parish operates a choice pantry where people are accompanied by a volunteer as they choose products off the shelf. They provide 4 days worth of food. Many recipients also help finding shelter, counseling, job leads, etc. In 2006 they served just under 6000 folks. In 2009 they served close to 11,000. Their budget is $400k and has been the same since 2007 and 70% of people served come from Clermont County.

Gail shared some pantry stories. Last night they brought 50 women in for facials, manicures, etc. by professionals. They also offered baby sitting during the event. There once was a guy she called “Mike” who is unemployed, sought help, found courage and gave back...He went out, interviewed, got a job and eventually came back and gave some clothes to the pantry. Gail also shared about a 79 year old woman she called “Fran” who drove to the pantry, was on a fixed income, needed food and other help. Then Gail mentioned a person she called “Savannah” who desperately needed shoes. There was once a former nurse who after an extreme illness had to go on disability. She needed soft items like soup (due to dental issues) and also needed soap (she had been using dish washing liquid). The pantry gives away these types of items. Each year for Christmas, Inter Parish also does an adopt-a-family program and a toy store where items can be purchased very inexpensively.

Inter Parish programs include: Choice pantries, choice clothing, special events, IPM's elder ministry, Mentoring and planning program, back to school back packs. They have opportunities of service such as running a food drive, adopting a family, running a toy drive and group opportunities to work at the pantry.

There are 150 volunteers who serve over 9000 hours per year. Often unemployed men and women will come and help out. Annually, the Mariemont Key Club does a food drive for Inter Parish. Another group has begun an annual 5k race. A local beauty salon runs an annual “cut-a-thon”. Several other organizations help as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Shawn Baker the new Head of School at Miami Valley Christian Academy in Newtown, OH. He is originally from Fairfield, OH and Graduated from Fairfield High School. In his experience, Shawn has owned 5 businesses north of Knoxville and was the pastor of a church which had 3 campuses! In fact, he was preparing to take a church when the school called and offered the Head of School position at MVCA.

82 churches are represented at MVCA which will be 15 years old next school year. MVCA started with 11 students and currently has 315 (up from 298 last year). The National average for Christian school enrollment is 239 students (Down 11% from last year).

Shawn shared with us what sets MVCA apart from other Christian schools. He told us 75% of all ACSI accredited school educators have Bachelors Degrees and at MVCA every teacher does (44 % even have post graduate degrees). MVCA is a school of academic excellence! The national average test score in Reading is 501 and at MVCA it is 622. In Math the average is 515 and at MVCA it is 574. The average overall SAT test score is 494 and at MVCA it is 575. On the ACT Miami Valley beats the national average of 21 with a whopping 24!

The School however is not only about academics but also Christian service. Believing that faith is a action word according to Scripture, the school encourages their young people to serve our community in many ways including an annual “Serve-a-thon”. Shawn held his hand out to every Rotarian in our club if we should desire his students to come serve any of our businesses or organizations (no strings attached!).

In regards to sports, this year MVCA hired Highlands former offensive coach Robert Villardo to kick off it's inaugural Football season. They started with 11 players and now have 30 (with an impressive record of 3-1). MVCA also plans to revive it's basketball program, begin High School baseball and go all out in the area of fine arts.

Shawn mentioned that MVCA is not underwritten by deep pockets. In fact, 30% of the budget is based on fund raising. MVCA gives every student in grades 7-12 a laptop and underwrites every student by $1500. Their budget is $2.9 million per year (The national average is $760k). MVCA is a Pre-K through 12th grade school where every morning, 5 days per week, their staff gathers at 7:30am to pray for the school, the students and the greater community. They believe according to Matthew 6:33 and Deuteronomy 8:18 that God blesses us so that we become a blessing. Clearly this school is modeling that philosophy!

In his final remarks, Shawn also shared about the importance of camaraderie. He candidly told us there was a time in his life when he found himself withdrawing. Scripture and friends reminded him that it's not good for man to isolate himself and that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. He reminded us that camaraderie is not only good but there is a commanded blessing of God where unity dwells. Shawn commended the efforts of Rotary to create camaraderie and even asked if he could occasionally return to fellowship with us.

Next week our speaker will be: Gail Cofferd of InterParish Ministries

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Ryan Ventura of Southeastern Cincinnati Young Life. Ryan was involved with YL for 7 years as a volunteer leader and now has been a staff person for 9 years. He explained YL as a world-class, global Christian organization for adolescents. YL is in 58 countries with thousands of volunteers and about 3300 paid staff. They have branches for High School, Jr High, disabled students, teen moms and urban schools. The vision of YL is to give students a chance to hear about Jesus and grow in their faith. They attempt to partner with Christian kids in the schools and help them share their joy with other students.

Ryan shared four main areas to explain what YL is about:
1. YL is “out there” which means they don't own buildings but rather enter the world of kids.
2. YL is inviting which speaks about not leaving people out but rather inviting them in.
3. YL is about changed lives which speaks to understanding the difficulties of the adolescent years and helping them through.
4. YL is about a firm foundation because for 70 years YL has been doing this work and is partnered with thousands of reputable community members.

Ryan shared a video which explained several aspects of YL.
1. Christ – YL does not hide the fact they are a Christian organization
2. Contact work in the schools – to meet kids where they are and help them achieve their potential
3. Clubs – YL refers to these as a “party with a purpose”
4. Camps – YL has 22 properties which provide amazingly fun adventures in the summer & fall
5. Campaigners – These are special study & discussion times for kids who want to go deeper
6. Committee – This is the board who help maintain accountability & organize local adult support
7. Church – YL needs to partner with local churches so the kids have faith support after they graduate

YL began in Southeast Cincinnati in 2000 in New Richmond High School. Locally there is 1 paid staff family and many volunteers. They are currently working with 6 local High Schools and 2 middle schools with plans to expand east. Current schools include Turpin, Anderson, Glen Este, Amelia, New Richmond & Batavia.

Ryan encouraged us with the following:
1. Be an adult guest at camp – one of the best, inexpensive vacations you could have
2. Attend the November banquet – find out more
3. Become a YL supporter – YL needs faithful, monthly financial support to keep going
4. Get involved on the YL committee – YL needs your faithful service to keep going

*Next week our scheduled speaker is Shawn Baker, Head of School at Miami Valley Christian Academy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

I hope you didn't miss this week's meeting...if you did, you may have missed what some called "One of our best meetings yet"! Here's the synopsis...

Today we heard from Nora Stanger, whom among her many accomplishments is currently serving as the guidance counselor of Miami Valley Christian Academy. Nora shared with us about her Appalachian upbringing in which she lived in extreme poverty in every sense of the word. "Run down" is a nice way to describe the picture she showed us of her childhood home. Her mom was the first to divorce in her family and was therefore disowned by them and her father abandoned Nora and her siblings at a very early age. They were so poor that many times they went three days at a time with no food and often woke up so weak they could not even stand on their frail, shaky legs. Nora's sisters were often abused (even told they were only good for the purpose of being prostitutes).

As you might guess, tempers flared due to these extreme, inhumane conditions. People shamed them with such phrases as “my daddy paid for your lunch”, “you are white trash”, “you are lazy and should get a job” and there were even teachers who gossiped about their situation. Nora even candidly shared how she even used to hate folks bringing Christmas gifts because they always seemed to do it more for themselves. They would never stop and ask how they were doing or even look them in the eyes and talk with them like humans.

Nora told us of two kinds of shame. One kind “we should never shake” is shame from breaking our moral code. However, there's a shame “you want to put away from you” which comes from being pressed down in life so much that it feels like you are being held under water and gasping for a single breath. Nora also told us that folks in poverty do not feel valued, cannot dream and especially can not envision themselves as successful. She spoke of how men who had broken spirits when their ability to provide was taken away.

After all of this heartfelt setup, Nora shared her story of success and hope. Believing that education was a requirement and not an option, Nora's mom read to them and taught them as much as she could and even started a 4H club. She told of how her mom walked and drove them to the book mobile any time it was in town. Nora's mother insisted the children go to college and many not only went but earned advanced degrees. Nora's own mother also earned a college degree! Somewhat jokingly Nora commented that her mom's “gift” was the ability to deny reality. 

Nora's message for us was that as human beings who live in a community, we ought to be champions for one another otherwise we would not survive. Her definition of a champion is “one who would fight for you even when you can't fight for yourself”. Nora believes we are all created for a purpose and that purpose is good. She defined Financial Poverty as “not having enough $ resources to meet basic needs” and Mind Poverty as a state of mind that diminishes or depletes the value of a person...she commented this is the most widespread poverty.

At the end of her talk Nora challenged us with several ideas...
  1. When we are broken broken (like a bone) we can become stronger when we are healed. Yet we may need someone to help us realize we are or can be stronger. Will you be that person?
  2. There should be room at the community table for all. People need to belong within a community with dignity, adventure, accomplishments and successes. When we diminish others we diminish ourselves.
  3. Ask yourself, “What do I bring to add to the feast?” We are not a real community until everyone participates in the community.
  4. Because people took a risk in this shy, dirty, little girl (Nora) many lives have been touched. Think of the many lives we are losing in our community.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from LtCol. Rick Klinker of the USMC. He was a navy aviator, presidential helicopter pilot, squadron commander, Senior Marine JROTC instructor (which he began) and had many other accomplishments. In our presence, we was wearing a badge reflecting the Presidential emblem because he was in direct support of President Reagan (whom he referred to as an unbelievable gentleman). After living all over the states, he moved back to Ripley Ohio so his son could finish high school and “have a home town to remember”. Since our tax dollars pay military and tactical support for the Presidents he thought it best to focus on this topic for our meeting. He shared with us many interesting facts such as some helicopters take off at random times from the White House so nobody knows when an official is on them. He explained how much less expensive it is to transport a President by helicopter rather than motorcade since with a motorcade there are so many factors involved in shutting down roadways, paying police overtime, etc. Usually the helicopters travel in packs of 3 and play a shell game which makes it harder to get to the President. About 700 men and women are required for transport support. Much gear is taken on these flights. The president never travels in any foreign vehicles when he goes overseas. Everything is transported across the ocean. A couple of helicopters are flown over early and flown for 20 hours before the President is allowed to fly in them. Much is done to ensure our country does not lose a President. Even fuel trucks are chemically tested, locked and an MP is stationed on the truck. The planning and logistics are staggering and it is quite seamless as a marine will show up on the scene and coordinate the process. It was interesting to learn that every President has a double who travels with him and usually gets off the plane first, especially when there is a threat. The President and Vice President never fly in the same aircraft.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Billi Koonz the Executive Director of Clermont Community Services, Inc., a community action agency serving Clermont County. Their goal is to get families back on their feet and work through the barriers to that goal. They run the James Sauls Homeless Shelter (since 2004 previously ran by Salvation Army), offer help for pediatric and dental care, administrate the HEAP Program (which provides electric, oil and propane vouchers), help with senior home repair and run a youth services program. They receive funding from a variety of sources (90% of which is public funding). In December 2008 they moved into their new homeless shelter building. The old shelter capacity was 17 and the new is 38 but their funding is limited and they may only be able to handle 30 in the upcoming months. There is only 1 staff person to handle day-to-day operations. They can handle mothers with children in the women’s dorm but cannot put men with children in the men’s dorm. The shelter has 2 family units which is becoming a bigger need. They served 369 clients in 2009 and have served 306 clients so far this year. Unfortunately, the shelter has had to turn away 413 people this year. There is no shelter in Brown County which further increases their load.

We also head from Leanne Townes who is the Homeless Shelter Coordinator. She shared that they have rules like curfew and no alcohol or drugs. The residents all have chores and they must respect others. They have asked folks to leave for not following the rules. Generally the residents can stay for up to 60 days and the shelter helps them get up to Workforce One for job assistance. The shelter does have funds to help them get into an apartment. The clients range from all ages and some even have college degrees. What was interesting do learn is that these folks are not the “stereotypical homeless”. The mental health and recovery board is very helpful to the shelter as well. The shelter has seen 54 kids this year and they generally enroll them in Batavia Local Schools. They get a lot of volunteers bringing food from the community and there are some who even come and cook breakfast. There are many success stories including people who return and volunteer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today our spirits were "lifted" by Chris Cleary of Cincinnati Weight Lifting which is located in Fairfield, OH. This organization helps teaches proper weight lifting techniques such as the "snatch" and the "clean and jerk" and promotes a sport where there is an extremely low risk of injury (1 out of every 100k participant hours). Cincinnati Weight Lifting isn't into body building and toning but rather proper technique which is applicable in training for sports of all sorts. Chris told us of Ohio's rich history in weight lifting. In 1970 a Russian man came to Ohio and set a record by lifting 500+ pounds over his head!! Chris says weight lifting is not a size restrictive sport (there are many weight classes) and this sport is definitely not just for the young. This club even has a 62-year-old member; and on the national scene, there is a weight class for 85-92 year olds! Cincinnati Weight Lifting is hosting the "American Open" at the Eastgate Holiday Inn December 10-12. Details can be found on here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Chris Smith of Clermont 20/20 inc. Their mission is to serve as a catalyst to bring people together to improve the quality of life in Clermont County. They promote adult and youth leadership in our great county by operating on 5 pillars...Safety & Justice, Education, Government & Infrastructure, Economic Development, and Health & Human Services. Their work also includes a clean & green program, a shared vision task force for the county, job shadowing for students and developmental assistance for area non-profit boards.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Jonathan Wocher of McBride, Dale & Clarion. He is a zoning consultant who helps businesses in navigate the zoning process and also helps our township with future planning. His talk basically helped us understand how the land use plans which have been developed over the years come into play when new development it proposed. These land use plans are not set in stone but do provide an excellent guideline for our township when they have the opportunity to approve new developments. He also briefly shared information with us about township efforts to "go green" including such things as wind turbines, solar panels, rain gardens, water retention and green roofs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Sarah Tuttle shared with us about the MDA which started in 1950. They grossed $50k at the Cheeseburger in Paradise Lockup this year! They server our community on both local and national levels working on diseases which other drug companies won't touch because sadly, there's not enough revenue. These diseases include Pompe (as seen in the movie "Extraordinary Measures") and ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's). MDA also provides loaner items to folks who can't afford to by power chairs, breathing units, etc. The MDA raises funds through annual lockups, the Shamrock Campaign (Lowe's), a program with Bigg's, The "Fill the boot" Campaign(Local Fire Departments) and of course the famous Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. They are always looking for folks to assist their efforts. Contact them at cincinnatiohdistrict@mdausa.org