Rotary Club of Pottsville

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August 10, 2016

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

Thanks to Tom for an informative presentation.

July 27, 2016

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.

July 20, 2016

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.

July 13, 2016

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.

July 6, 2016

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).

March 23, 2016

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.

March 16, 2016

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.

March 2, 2016

PROGRAM – Cheryl Cresswell, Executive Director of Care Net

Care Net in Schuylkill County will be celebrating their 16th year in Schuylkill County this Fall, according to Executive Director Cheryl Cresswell, our speaker this week. Cheryl told the group that the company was started when a local pastor wanted the community to offer something more than criticism to young women in crisis’ pregnancies. They have been located on South Centre Street in Pottsville for 8 years, and recently opened the Real Options Pregnancy Medical Resources Center on Red Horse Road in Pottsville. That office is located on the lower level of the building that houses Comprehensive Women’s Health Services, but the two businesses are separate.

Cheryl described her job as very exciting, especially meeting so many interesting and generous people. They are entirely funded by donations, mostly from local businesses, people, churches and organizations. She also described a fairly new program offered by Care Net and run by Sarah Hahner, teen health director. Sarah reaches out to local schools, plus has worked with various churches and other organizations to try to teach young women to make wise choices.

Part of Care Nets mission is to help expectant mothers or couples prepare for their baby. They can watch DVD’s and participate in group programs, which earn them “Baby Bucks” or “Mommy Dollars” that can be redeemed at their New Life Boutique for things like diapers, wipes and formula. The New Life Boutique is adjacent to their offices on Centre Street, and is one of the ways Care New raises money. Other ways include a 5K run in April and an Anniversary Gala in the Fall.

Thanks to Cheryl for an informative program

February 24

PROGRAM – Anthracite Chapter PA Society of Professional Engineers

This week we had our annual joint meeting with the Anthracite Chapter PA Society of Professional Engineers. Dr. Aaron Clauser from Clauser Environmental was our speaker and his topic was “Clean Water through Stream Restoration”. Dr. Clauser talked about how as a society we’ve done a great job of messing up our streams. Many have been covered over or are the recipient of various discharges. There has been serious floodplain encroachments and agricultural pollutants. In addition, Schuylkill County has problems with abandoned mine drainage.

Dr. Clauser discussed watershed assessment and showed a map outlying some of the processes in stream restoration. Interestingly the first step is to study bugs and insects to assess what water is good versus what is bad. Then engineers will walk the stream with GPS, cameras and clipboards and assess what projects are a higher or lower priority. He described how decaying water source affects those downstream, and used an example of Wilmington DE. being effected by streams in Chester and Lancaster Counties.

He told us about several Best Management Practices including placing large rocks alongside the stream, and grass vegetation. There are several sources of funding for these restoration projects, including the use of grants, non-profits with foundations and large corporations funding the projects as part of mitigation processes.

We thank Dr. Clauser for an interesting presentation.

February 10, 2016

PROGRAM – Students of the Month

Lauren Womer and Joshua Donley from Minersville, Katrina Whalen and Christopher Pekarik of Pottsville, and Lauren Moyer and Jacob Evans from Nativity were our Students of the Month for February, 2016.

Lauren Womer is the daughter of Jim and Rose Womer of Minersville. She is involved in Volleyball, Yearbook Club, Prom Committee, Spanish Club, Student Council, SADD, and the National Honor Society. Lauren plans to attend college and major in Biology.

Joshua Donley is the son of Mark and Karen Curran Donley of Minersville, where he is a member of St. Michael the Archangel Church. He is active in Vacation Bible School, and his favorite subjects are Calculus and Classics, the study of Roman mythology. He is President of the Marching and Concert Bands, President of the concert choir, Vice-President of the Academic League and German Club, and a member of track and field and Varsity cheerleading. Joshua participates in the Schuylkill County band and Schuylkill County Chorus, and has participated in the PMEA District 10 Band festival and PMEA District 10 Choir Concert. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Lions All state Band. His future plans include attending Susquehanna University to study Business and Finance with a minor in Music.

Katrina Whalen is the daughter of Walter and Denise Whalen of Pottsville. She is Class President, treasurer and 4 year member of the Spanish Club, and a 4 year member of Key Club, Ecology Club, Marching and Concert Band, and AIA. She is a 2 year member of Stage Crew, and is a coaching assistant of the PAHS boys’ tennis team. Katrina is President of the National Honor Society and a 2 year member, and a member of the Spanish National Honor society and winner of the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award. She is a 3 year member and captain of the tennis team and her favorite subjects are Chemistry, Physics, Physiology, and Biology. Katrina plans on attending Bloomsburg University with a nursing major and her ultimate goal is to become a nurse anesthetics.

Christopher Pekarik is the son of Christopher and Kimberly Pekarik of Pottsville. He is a member of the National Honor Society, has achieved perfect attendance, and won the Governor’s STEM State Project Award and achieved 2nd place in PFEW. Christopher is a 4 year member and trombone section leader of the Marching, Concert and Pep Bands, a 4 year member of the Brass Ensemble and Country Bands, and a 3 year member and lead trombone player for the Stage Band. He is also the President and Founder of the Chess Club, a 3 year member of boys volleyball, 2 year member of Spanish club and member of the Quiz Team and E-Sports. Christopher plays in Pottsville’s 3rd Brigade Band, and his favorite subjects are Physics, Calculus, Chemistry and Computer Programming. He plans on attending Rochester Institute of Technology and major in both Physics and Computer science, while continuing to play trombone in the RIT’s bands.

Lauren Moyer is the daughter of Brian and Ellen Moyer of Schuylkill Haven. She attends St. Ambrose Church and her favorite subjects at Nativity are Art, Biology and English. She is involved in Drama Club, Academic Team, Art Club, and National Honor Society. Lauren dances at the L.A. Dance Theatre in St. Clair. She has received several art awards, the most recent being the program cover for the Diocesan Education Convention, as well as the Republican Herald Design An ad contest. Some of her work is currently on display at the walk-In Art Center in Schuylkill Haven. Lauren plans on attending the Rochester Institute of Technology and major in Illustration.

Jacob Evans is the son of Gary and Tina Evans of Cressona. He attends St. Ambrose Church and his favorite subjects at Nativity are AP Biology and Accounting. He is involved in Cross country, Basketball, Track and Field, Math Club, Science Club, National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Interact Club and Campus Ministry. Jacob is the secretary of student government and plans to attend college and major in Business/Accounting.