Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Member Spotlight

The Batavia Rotary Club is please to announce the membership of Mike Chapman.

Mike and Trace Chapman live in Batavia Township with their 3 ½ year old son, Samuel.  Mike is a lawyer at Rendigs, Fry, Kiely, & Dennis LLP in downtown Cincinnati.  He is a native Hoosier and graduated with honors from the Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington.   Before attending law school, Mike used his undergraduate degree in chemistry to teach high school math and science.   When he is not working, Mike is a board member of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati and he and his family regularly attend Mt. Carmel Christian Church as well as actively participate in leadership roles for the March of Dimes – March for Babies and American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraisers.  Mike also enjoys woodworking, playing guitar, gathering useless trivia (especially anything written by Cecil Adams), but his favorite current pastime is wrestling with his son and practicing inverted-three-quarter-figure-four-leglocks.  Someday, he might actually build that custom chopper, something screaming with attitude - even when parked.

Mike is excited that Rotary will allow him to be a better role model for his son and to make the world a better place for everyone.  He is eager to provide meaningful services to our community, to establish lasting relationships, and to develop his personal-leadership, problem-solving, and social-responsibility skills.

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Barbara Wallace who is the Director of the College Success Program at UC Clermont College.

Barbara directs The Service Learning Program at UC Clermont College which "combines community service with classroom instruction focusing on critical, reflective thinking as well as personal and civic responsibility". Students hear from a variety of local non-profits and even get opportunities to be “hands on” while meeting many meaningful identified local needs. This program has even helped some undecided students choose which major they would like to pursue. Barbara even shared a story of one student who found a career protecting and helping children in our community.

The types of EXPERIENCE the service learning program can provide students includes tutoring, mentoring, using marketing tools, working with seniors or disabled, doing environmental projects, providing wellness and safety, assisting literacy groups and working in counseling centers. STUDENTS benefit from hands-on learning, individual growth, career exploration, employability, networking, civic engagement, improving society, community awareness, critical thinking and skill building. The COMMUNITY benefits from meaningful service, a growing awareness of community needs and the potential for life-long volunteering.

A valuable project Barbara oversees is called “The Community Garden” which began in the fall of 2010. It is called a community garden because it completely benefits the community. 381 pounds of produce was harvested in the first year and given entirely to the community. This year, with help from a Duke Energy grant, they plan to have two 50x50 plots, eight 4x4 raised beds, one 75x25 perennial garden, an electric wire fence, gutterless rain barrel systems and multiple plantings with the hope of harvesting 1200 pounds this year! The possibility of various partnerships with non-profits is also being explored this year. It is already common for this project to donate hundreds of plants to local non-profits.

A simple way to help this worthwhile gardening project is to spread the word to local non-profits and even potential supporters. In the summer months, help will also be needed for some weeding and other minor maintenance.

Next week we will hear from Mark Josaitis of Western Southern Life who will discuss Identity Theft

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What We Learned At This Week's Meeting

Today we heard from Matt VanSant who is President and CEO of the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce.

Matt came to share about the Clermont County Transportation Improvement District (CCTID) of which he has been on the board for about four months. “The CCTID was established in June 2006 by the Board of Clermont County Commissioners to foster increased collaboration with local partner jurisdictions, and other county, regional, state and federal agencies to implement a regional approach to transportation improvements in support of economic development in Clermont County.” They are learning that increased collaboration affords many advantages especially in highway projects.

Matt began by sharing some interesting information that when companies are interested in selecting sites in Clermont County, highway accessibility and labor costs rank among the top factors. In addition, he stated the top quality of life factors are a low crime rate and healthcare facilities.

A startling fact Matt conveyed was that it's been 40 years since any major federal investment has been made in Clermont County highways which has been a huge issue for our county growth. Amazingly, Clermont County has the number 2 commute going into Hamilton County. It takes local match to get these funds to come in and often ODOT can be counted on to match funds. Matt shared a couple of pages worth of info regarding where funding comes from and the breakdown of how monies are planned to be used on particular projects.

“CCTID seeks to build alliances and partnerships that harness private sector innovation and resources, encourages competition, and optimizes the assignment of risk.” Matt has been through several partnership meetings and has observed that many townships are getting involved in the CCTID projects. He is very interested in seeing more things done better and invites townships to join in the talks.

Two areas of focus seem to be the happenings at the Clermont County Airport and the possibility of commuter rail. Highway projects tend to lose value when they begin while rail projects tend to increase value as well as increase the value of highway projects by slowing such factors as wear and tear. Of course it takes patience to allow rail to fully develop.

Rotarian John Trautman asked Matt his thoughts about the trend of business in Clermont County. He replied, “There are companies with deals in the pipeline who are just hesitant to pull the trigger because of financing”. Matt also stated, “Manufacturing is back”. Economists are saying that within the last 12 months the recession has ended and things have improved and are moving in the right direction though it will be slow for certain companies. While we hear mixed messages about employment Matt sited one company, Express Personell, which can't even keep up with orders for laborers.