PROGRAM Schuylkill County Historical Society
The meeting was held at the Schuylkill County Historical Society, hosted by Executive Director Tom Drogalis. The Society is 114 years old, and is located at 350 N. Centre Street in the former Female Grammar School Building. The Society has been improving their facility with recent improvements being the installation of Air Conditioning, and roof coating scheduled to be completed this year. The next major improvement will be replacement windows for the original single pane windows. The Society acknowledged Rotary for our recent contribution toward their computer systems. Tom gave a presentation on the newest of the technology improvements. The Society recently contracted to have their 250 rolls of micro-film records of the Miners Journal digitally scanned and converted to a searchable data base. The converted documents now total 250,000 newspaper pages. To show the capabilities of the system, Tom reviewed a roll from 1915, the founding year of Pottsville Rotary. Numerous references to Rotary were found, including an 8 page insert about Rotary, the founding of the Pottsville Rotary Club, biographies and photos of the original members and numerous other items.
The Historical Society continues to improve and re-vamp its displays and continues its mission to To Preserve, Protect, and Display Schuylkill County History. More information on the Society can be found at http://www.schuylkillhistory.org.
Thanks to Tom for an informative presentation.
PROGRAM SSG David Hertzog, United States Army
Staff Sergeant David Hertzog of the United States Army was our speaker this week. He currently is an Army recruiter, but talked to us about all aspects of his military career, which he obviously loves. SSG Hertzog graduated from Northampton High School in 2003 and immediately joined the Army. He described high school as difficult and at the time had no desire for college. He did indicate Sept. 11, 2001 was an influence on his choice to enlist, but in his mind he was planning for that long before 9/11.
Basic training was in Fort Jackson, SC, where he learned to be a diesel mechanic. After that he went to Airmans Training and Special Forces Training. SSG Hertzog had four trips to Afghanistan and one trip to Iraq, and told us of reenlisting during his third tour in Afghanistan. He also spent time in Okinawa, Japan, and was there during the 2011 tsunami. He was one of two qualified Army personnel who could operate their forklifts and other heavy equipment, and he spent several months helping with the cleanup and rebuilding of the area. After a brief time in Australia and the fourth tour of Afghanistan he returned home to Fort Bragg in 2013. He had spent 10 years in the service and decided on an indefinite reenlistment, which basically committed him to 10 more years and then he would be eligible to retire. At that time it was decided he would concentrate on recruitment.
SSG Hertzog talked a lot about the benefits of Army life, and what it can do for a person. He finds himself acting more as a salesman in his recruiting position, and told the crowd some of the things he looks for. He said the Army only wants perfect people, and that less than 1% of Americans would meet todays requirements to join the United States Military. There can be no visible tattoos or piercings, no physical limitations or learning disabilities, no past drug history, no violations of the law. However, the benefits are outstanding, including the current Minute Man program that provides a four year degree paid in full in exchange for joining the ROTC program and Army reserves. The post-911 GI bill is another strong incentive that will end in the near future; it provides up to $76,000 in college funds to be used by the enlisted party or their family members.
It was clear SSG Hertzog loves the military and his career choice. We thank him for his presentation and his service to our country.
PROGRAM Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited
Tony Mione and John Bondura of Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited were our speakers this week. Trout Unlimited is an organization that began in 1959 in Michigan and expanded to Schuyklkill County 27 years ago. Tony proclaimed that they are a very active organization nationwide with clout throughout the country at state capitals and the White House. There are currently 53 chapters in Pennsylvania with about 270 members. The Schuylkill County chapter was recently recognized with two prestigious awards: Most new members in one year and Best Childrens program.
Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited has several goals, mainly promoting clean streams and promoting outdoor activities for children. They work within several schools in the County, speaking to an estimated 2,500 3,000 children and exposing them to outdoor experiences. To paraphrase John, its about promoting outdoor activities and keeping the kids off the computers. Another goal is the rehabilitation of the Schuylkill River, where they along with other state and county organizations are showing real progress. There is even a long term plan for a walking trail along the Schuylkill from Tuscarora to New Philadelphia.
They also talked about a Button Program, where people can make a $10 donation to Schuylkill County trout Unlimited that goes towards helping the organization stock trout in area streams above and beyond what the state supplies. Donors receive an invitation to help stock the fresh trout, with the intention of getting young folks involved. Last year SCTU stocked nine different bodies of water with trout and they have raised over $34,000 towards this project since 2012.
Finally, John thanked Pottsville Rotary for our participation last year in SKIP Clean-Up Day in a New Philadelphia project that helped clean up over 13 tons of trash out of the Schuylkill river area.
Thanks to Tony and John for an interesting presentation.
PROGRAM Michelle Halabura, Schuylkill United Way
Michelle Halabura, Director of Community Relations at Schuylkill United Way, talked to us this week about the 14th annual United Way Stuff the Bus promotion. This promotion is designed to help provide school supplies to underprivileged children. Among the supplies the United Way provides are: notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, watercolors, lined paper, book bags, pencil cases, folders, etc. Michelle told the crowd the average cost to fill a backpack is $80 – $100, and goes up as children reach higher grades. Last year the United Way gave out 1,200 backpacks, and this year they have 1,400 on order.
Michelle mentioned many area organizations that request backpacks or have developed lists of children and families in need that are recipients of this program. Among them are Avenues, Cloud Home, Women in Crisis, Child development, SARCC, Big Brothers / Big Sisters, Society for Crippled Children, Red Cross, Salvation Army of Pottsville and Tamaqua, plus several school districts. She also mentioned many area businesses that support Stuff the Bus, some serving as drop off points for donations and others providing donations themselves or offering significant discounts on purchased supplies.
Volunteers are also needed to help prepare and distribute the backpacks. On July 29 from noon to 3 pm at Pottsville Salvation Army volunteers will help prepare the materials to be inserted in the backpacks, sorting supplies and setting up for the actual stuffing. On August 1 from 9 a.m. to noon volunteers will man an assembly line to fill the 1,400 backpacks in time for distribution, which starts that afternoon. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Michelle at (570)622-6421
Thanks to Michelle for an interesting program and we wish her success with this promotion.
President Terry also played the beginning of a recording from 1970 of Paul Harvey titled What is a Policeman? He encouraged members to find it on YouTube as it is very timely in light of recent events.
PROGRAM – Fellowship & Award Presentations
In addition to Fellowship this week, we had two awards presentations. Committee Chairman Allen Kiefer presented the 2016 Rotarian of the Year award to Mike Joyce. He had some very kind words and on a personal note I am very humbled and honored to be recognized with past winners of this award. I thank the committee and all Pottsville Rotarians for this honor.
Also, Foundation Chair Mary Sitcoske presented Jim Cooksey with a Paul Harris pin with four sapphires. Congratulations Jim!
New President Terry Bixler thanked the many Pottsville Rotarians who attended the installation last week, noting it was good to be back at The Lodge at Sharp Mountain (Pottsville Club).
PROGRAM Farid Razavi, MD Schuylkill Health; Colon Cancer Screening
Dr. Razavi gave a presentation on Colon Cancer and Colon health. Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the US, despite significant reductions in the death rate for the disease since 1975. Most people have a 1 in 20 chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime. Most colon cancers develop from polyps, which are wart-like growths in the colon. Most polyps are benign but any can become cancerous as they grow. The best detection and prevention test for colon cancer is the colonoscopy, which is recommended for anyone over 50 years old. Others with a family history of colon cancer to other risk factors should be tested earlier as the direction of their Physician.
Risks can be reduced with Diet, weight control, not smoking, and increasing physical activity. An unfortunate fact is that younger people are at risk more now due to poor diet and not following the risk reductions mentioned.
When you schedule a colonoscopy, the best advise is to follow the PREP directions carefully for the best results. The colonoscopy procedure takes about 45 minutes and the patient is usually sedated. The entire process from check in through recovery is typically 2 to 3 hours.
If you have not been tested, talk to your Doctor.
Thanks to Dr. Razavi and Ms. Klinger for an informative presentation.
PROGRAM – Courtney Fasnacht, Executive Director, Manufacturers and Employers Council, Inc.
The Manufacturers and Employers Council (MAEC) is the 501C3 branch of the Manufacturers and Employers Association, which was started in 1964 in Schuylkill County to provide services and programs to large and small manufacturers in the county. The goal of MAEC is to help develop a qualified workforce. Courtney described some of the many ways they do this, most notably with the YES (Your Employability Skills) program. This program targets seniors in high school and is a one credit program covering 120 hours taken during the regular school day. It is an elective course that provides students with real, hands-on training that will be applicable to the actual workplace.
There are various topics within the YES program including Communications, Health and Safety, Personal Development, Quality and Technology, and Teamwork. The Council coordinates up to 4 tours of local businesses for the YES classes where students get an inside look at how an industry functions and the careers available to them when they are ready to enter the workforce.
Courtney told us that students earn a Certification from the YES program upon receiving a high school diploma and meeting the following qualifications: they must achieve a Reading and Math score equivalent to Grade 9 level on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE); Achieve a Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test score of 21 or better; Successfully pass a 6-panel drug screening; have attendance of 95% or better; and complete 120 hours of coursework. Over 4,500 students have participated in the YES program since 2006, with about 65% of them going off to college.
Another program that MAEC coordinates is the Schuylkill County Career Fair, which will be held this year at Martz Hall on April 19. This is an event where students have an opportunity to speak directly with local employers, post-secondary educational institutions, and the military about careers.
Thanks Courtney for an interesting program.