The Pottsville Rotary Club held a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, February 24. The speaker was Bill Reppy, President of Lehigh Valley Hospital – Schuylkill. He was assisted by Mike Peckman, Lehigh Valley Hospital – Schuylkill Public Affairs & Marketing. Bill gave us an update on the Hospital and an update on COVID, especially concerning the vaccines.
The Hospital has a number of positive improvements over the past year, having received certifications for a Chest Pain Center and Certified Stroke Center. Surgical robotic equipment was upgraded, and improved teaching facilities added for the Nursing School.
A major development is that Lehigh Valley Schuylkill now has a Graduate Medical School for Family Medicine Doctors. This residency program will be a benefit for not only the Health Network but the entire community.
The COVID pandemic has been a challenge, as it has everywhere. During the peak period the hospital was dealing with 50 patients per day. Challenges included the fact that the virus was new and all treatments needed to develop over time. The treatments available have improved, resulting in more effective treatments. Currently they are dealing with 11 patients per day. Overall there is still work to be done and the vaccine is the hope for controlling the virus.
The COVID Vaccine is a Messenger RNA Vaccine, which means there is no live virus in the vaccine. There are side effects from taking, but most are mild and last less than 24 hours. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are in use and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to be approved this week, The “rollout” of the vaccine has been a problem with the uncertainty of how many doses and when received a constant issue. LVHN Schuylkill is set up to give 250 doses per day right now, with the capabilities for up to 500 with supply available. Part of the issue in the state is that originally the vaccine only went to 60 locations, but now it is up to 1700. This means less doses per site are available. To date, LVHN network-wide has administered over 86 thousand doses, About 7500 doses were distributed locally. They are continuing to work with scheduling and juggling the demand with the supply.
The overall goal of the vaccines is to defeat the virus by vaccinating the majority of the population. Projections are that 70 % of people will get the vaccine voluntarily and the hope is to get this number up to 90%. There will always be a percentage who choose not to vaccinate.
Club members had a number of questions and it was an informative discussion. Many thanks to Bill and Mike for a great presentation.
Savas Logothetides, Executive Director of Pottsville Area Development Corporation (PADCO), and owner of the Wheel Restaurant-Pottsville, the Wheel Restaurant-Tamaqua, and co-owner of Charlies Pizza-Pottsville, gave the Club an update on the Downtown Pottsville Revitalization Project. The project was initiated in December 2016 to encourage the revitalization of Downtown Pottsville, with the goal to make Pottsville “A Cool Place to Live”. A Strategic Plan was developed with local input and assistance from planning firms. The Plan included three “Pathways” to enliven the downtown and make it a desirable place to live, work, and play. They include:
Tourism Based – Brewery, Historical Society, Architecture, etc.
Downtown Living – Develop retail on buildings 1st floors with market price apartments above. Develop retail services to accommodate urban living.
Arts & Entertainment – Diverse music, theatre, street fairs, events.
Blighted properties are being acquired and/or addressed. The Pottsville Redevelopment Authority is again active and pursuing the obtaining of properties, including the option of Eminent Domain acquisitions.
Funding has also been obtained in the form of grants and loans. A revolving loan fund administered by PADCO has $1.9 million, with about $1.7 million loaned to date.
Other grants and loans for specific project have been obtained.
The project is progressing with many new businesses in stages of development. Examples include the Crimson House Restaurant, Black Rock Brewing, Drasdis and Son Clothier and several more.
Much more information on the project, including the entire plan is available at downtownpottsville.com.
Program: STUDENTS OF THE MONTH
Jenn Daubert introduced Nativity BVM Students, Kierstyn Strausser, and Wiley Kahler.
Kierstyn Strausser is the daughter of Alan and Michelle Strausser of Port Carbon. She attends St. Clair of Assisi Church and her favorite subjects at Nativity are Anatomy and Physics. Extracurricular activities that Kierstyn takes part in include Volleyball, Math Club, Student Ambassadors, International Club and the Interact Club. She has received four varsity letters and is the two-time district champion, Class A state runner-up and was selected for First Team in the PVCA and Athletic League All-Star teams. Kierstyn plans to attend a college or university to major in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Wiley Kahler is the son of Chuck and Mary Kahler of Friedensburg. He attends St. John’s Lutheran Evangelical Church and his favorite subjects at Nativity are Math and Science. He is involved in Wrestling and the Interact Club. Wiley has received four varsity letters, two league titles, one district title and he is the Northeast Regional runner-up, along with being a state qualifier. His hobbies include wrestling, hiking, camping and fishing with friends. Wiley plans to attend a college or university to wrestle and study Environmental Science.
Steve Bressi introduced Minersville Students, Ashley Roberts, and Noah Woodford.
Ashley Roberts is the daughter of Charlie and Tammy Roberts, Minersville. Her school activities include: member of the Four Diamonds Club, Track and Field team, and a Captain of the Girls Soccer team. Outside of school, she volunteers at the Minersville Little League Field and the Make-A-Wish Tournament. Her future plans are to attend college majoring in Occupational Therapy.
Noah Woodford is the son of Randy and Erin Woodford, Minersville. His school activities include: a member of the German Club, a Captain of the Varsity Football team and a Powder Puff Coach. Outside of school, he volunteered at the Minersville Cancer Car Wash fundraiser, The Cornhole Tournament for Cancer, and with Minersville Youth Football. His future plans are to attend Albright College majoring in History and Secondary Education.
Tiffany Hummel introduced Pottsville Student, Collin Pryce.
Collin Pryce is the son of William and Michele Pryce of Pottsville. He is a two-year member of the National Honor Society, Aletheia Club, and Key Club. He is also an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church. Collin plans to attend Elizabethtown College and major in Actuarial Science
Program – Rotary District Governor, Swan Stull
District Governor Swan Stull, Lewisburg, attended for her official visit. DG Swan met with the Board of Directors and also addressed the Club. She recognized a number of Club Members – 50 years plus of service, by Pete Pope, Pete Yasenchak, and Dale Schoeneman. Chet Arnold, Jim Cooksey, and Pete Pope were acknowledged for recent Paul Harris recognition. Allen Kiefer was presented with his next Paul Harris Recognition. Jim and Elizabeth Cooksey were recognized as Paul Harris Society Members for their total contributions over the years.
DG Swan talked about the Polio Plus Project and the progress to complete the eradication of Polio. Polio is down to an annual reporting of fewer than 100 cases worldwide. However, some more vaccine-resistant strains persist. The World Health Organization is changing from oral vaccines to injections to fight these strains. The end is near, but financial support is still needed. Every dollar contributed by Rotarians is tripled with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
She congratulated the Club on our Rotary Foundation Contributions and reminded the club that the goal is for at least $50 per member to keep our Club eligible for District Grants. We have been reaching that goal annually but need to keep up the contributions.
She asked our Club to review and refresh projects and procedures regularly and to have more Club participation at District Functions. Rotary is also encouraging clubs to consider Community Based Rotaract Clubs, for ages 18 to 35 to engage young people in the community.
DG Swan concluded with a reminder of how “Rotary Connects the World”, which is Rotary International President Maloney’s theme for 2019-2020.
Thanks to our District Governor for her visit and we wish her the best for her year as District Governor.
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.