Ann Arbor Rotary Harpoon


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Harpoon for the Week of August 23, 2017

Wednesday's Luncheon Meeting will be in the
Michigan Union's Anderson Room

Auction Donations Still Needed
August 30 Meeting to be at Weber's

Barbara Niess-May

Adventure Racing World Championship Recap, Up Close!


Some of you may or may not know that one of your fellow Rotarians actively trains and competes in Adventure Races, which has led to the opportunity of a lifetime, to serve as media for an elite team, Team Untamed New England, going to the Adventure Racing World Championships, which runs August 10 - August 16, 2017.  What is adventure racing?  Adventure racing is a combination of two or more endurance disciplines, including orienteering, cross-country running, mountain biking, and paddling (climbing and related rope skills can also be included in some races).  Barbara prefers the 24-30 hour races, but also competes in sprint races from 8-12 hours, and competes in about 10 races a year regionally.  The World Championship she will be documenting is a 450 mile course that teams from all over the world will have 6 days to complete.  In her talk, Barbara will share an overview of the sport, some of her experiences, and highlights of her media trip to Wyoming to follow and document Team Untamed New England as they work their way through a 450 mile course that will be open for 6 days. 

Song Leader:  Joanne Pierson
Accompanist:  Joan Knoertzner
Inspirational Speaker: Bob Mull

Greeters:  Lou Callaway, Marsha Chamberlin 

Attendance:  Brad Chick, Spaulding Clark


Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • 11:00 - Program Committee, Barbara Neiss May
  • August 24 (Thurs): Rollin' on the Detroit River Social Event (
  • August 30 (at Weber's): Scott DeRue on the Future of Business Education
  • Sept 8 (Fri): LAST G&TO Executive Committee, 9:00 a.m., Bank of Ann Arbor, Plymouth Road
  • Sept 11 (Mon):  Golf & Tennis Outing, Travis Pointe Country Club   
  • Sept 17 (Sun): Playscape Grand Opening, Chuck Blackmer
  • Sept 23 (Sat): One Rotary Summit (details later at
  • Oct 11 (Wed): New member induction and orientation
  • March 15-17 (Thurs-Sat): District Conference at Eagle Crest
  • June 23-27 (Sun-Wed): Rotary International Convention in Toronto

If you would like  your meeting to appear here, email
Details on monthly meetings may be found on the club's website.


Notes of Interest


Help Wanted

Our club is in need of a projectionist for our weekly meetings.  Chris Georgandellis has done a great job with this, but he is making a career move to Detroit and will no longer be able to join us after this week.  Anyone interested in helping with this critical function, either as the primary projectionist or as a member of small team, please contact Don Deatrick.


Auction Items still needed

This is the last week to collect items for the silent auction associated with the annual Golf & Tennis Outing.  If you have anything to contribute please contact Cassie Dawes Rein by email or through the G&TO website.


Universal Access Playground (UAP) Update

A picture = 1,000 words. The UAP continues behind schedule but it's safe to predict it will be done by Sept. 17 for the Grand Opening. In this photo, see one of the entry signs to welcome visitors of all abilities. There is another similar sign listing the major donors. The orange sun screens in the background provide shade at mid-day over the prairie-themed portion the playground. The Social Committee is pushing festivities planned for the Grand Opening day. Playground Chairman Chuck Blackmer encourages everyone to visit the site. There is lots of progress to see.

A total of $1,000,000 has been devoted to this project.  Of this sum, $550,000 has been raised by Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, $150,000 has been contributed by the City of Ann Arbor, and $300,000 is a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  Rotary is truly a leader in this great project.


“Freed To Play – Spirit of Liberty”

By request of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Social Committee, who are organizing the grand opening of our Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Centennial Playground on September 17, 2017, at 3:00 pm at Gallup Park, John Ackenhusen has composed and delivered the rap “Freed To Play – Spirit of Liberty.”  The rap, which is under 3 minutes long, describes a girl wanting to play in a playground, but finding that she cannot, as its surface does not allow passage of her wheelchair.  Her mother has heard of a new playground “where instead of rough bark, the ground is springy rubber, leaves no scrape, no mark.”  The rap describes various features of the playground, then describes how the playground came to be, initiated by the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor and including the City of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  The rap concludes by inviting all to the playground and expressing the hope that soon, children of all ages and abilities can play together there as one. The music, which sounds like “The Victors,” is actually based on “The Spirit of Liberty” march, which preceded “The Victors” in composition by about 7 months.  But “Victors” or “Spirit of Liberty,”  both describe what we wish for the new users of the playground. Here is the link:

New Exchange Student

Paul Strickling, our newest Rotary exchange student, will be introduced at Wednesday’s luncheon meeting.  He is from Bergisch Gladbank, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, enjoys sports (soccer, not football), Boy Scouts, science and history.  He is well travelled, persistent, and known by family and friends as a mediator.  Come to the luncheon Wednesday to welcome him to our midst.


Loren Rullman Visits Cape Town

In late July I had the honor of attending the Cape Town, South Africa Rotary Club meeting while visiting my daughter, a U-M Junior studying public health in that country.  The Cape Town Club was chartered in 1925 and is the second oldest club in South Africa.  It is a small club (its web page lists 50), and during this particular meeting attendance was about 25 people.  Its members are notable leaders (the Rotarian who sat across from me is a former British legislator, now living in South Africa, who helped broker the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement), and the program was excellent (the speaker was an executive coach born in California, trained in Canada, and living in South Africa for 25 years).  Additionally, the club has a track record of service above self, starting with the 1927 creation of the Cape Town Community Chest, an organization which supports numerous welfare projects throughout the area.  Current service projects include a program to assist the elderly with subsidized housing; Rotary Camps for disadvantaged kids; a scholarship fund for students who need help attending college; and an adopt-a-learner program which matches individuals and clubs from around the world with local children who need financial assistance to attend school. I had the pleasure of describing the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor (they were awed by our size and by our community involvement), the University of Michigan, and the city of Ann Arbor.  The President and I exchanged Club flags; the Cape Town flag will be given to President John.  South Africa is still a young democracy and the nation is still learning about diversity and economic equality.  Nevertheless, I found the Cape Town Club to be diverse in membership, gracious in hospitality, and working hard to fulfill Rotary ideals.  What an honor it was to make the world a little smaller through Rotary!  (See more about the club at its website).


Board of Directors Report

Your Rotary Club of Ann Arbor Board of Directors met on Wednesday, August 16 and reviewed budget and membership issues, received reports from Directors on committee activities, and discussed the forthcoming Golf and Tennis Outing, Playscape Grand Opening, and the need to fill some open committee positions.  Read the full report here.


Notes from the Meeting

Deanna Relyea’s lovely prelude shepherded last minute drink-getters to their tables, preparing them, and everyone else, for President John’s whack of the Rotary bell. With its ring members, guests, and visiting Rotarians rose to sing “God Bless America." Pam Smith then came to the podium and delivered a moving Inspiration reflecting on the dedication and sacrifice of firefighters: “What drives firefighters every day, to put their own safety behind that of others? [This is] Service Above Self…So, when you hear the fire alarm, I hope you’ll think of what our firefighters do.”


Music master Dave Keosaian then led the assembly in song. But first, he admitted, “In honor of our speaker, I tried to find songs about firefighting, but with titles like ‘Light My Fire,” “I’m on Fire,”…and others, I gave up.” He settled on, and we all enjoyed, “In the Good Old Summertime,” and Tin Pan Alley favorite, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which, Dave warned, “falls between octaves,” and so, would pose more of a challenge to the singers.


President John, returning to the podium, gave a rousing welcome: “Greetings to you all. I hope you enjoyed Deanna’s piano prelude. As you know, we began the prelude as a gentler introduction to the meeting.” As the father of a twenty-year-old living at home, your reporter warmly appreciates John’s consideration. Indeed, maintenance of gradual and quiet transitions through his day have proven an efficacious counter to those occasional setbacks, such as the crash of a dropping smart phone, which can trigger a bile tsunami.


Golf & Tennis Outing chair, John Simpkins, then regaled us on developments pertaining to the September 11 event at Travis Pointe Country Club. “Our website is now ready to take reservations,” John began. “There’s one more week for auction items. Please contact Cassie Dawes Rein, or fill out the form online.” Big congrats to all concerned – John, Cassie, and the GTO committee; Steve Schram, Laura Thomas, Dinesh Cyanam, and the whole Brand Management committee!


Susan Smith Gray, Social Committee chair, came up to mark a date, and to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’. “One month and one day from today, we will celebrate the work and efforts of many and the centennial of the Ann Arbor Rotary Club when we officially open the new Universal Access Playground at Gallup Park. We invite each of you to bring your children and your grandchildren and join us for an end-of-summer picnic at the park.


“There are many to be thanked for the success of this project,” Susan continued, “including members of the Centennial Committee, other Rotarians, the City, etc. I would like to thank one person in particular who has been a great help and educator to me…Carolyn Grawi, the Executive Director and CEO of the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living. She has taught us what it means to be inclusive, the proper terminology…not ‘handicapped people,’ but People with Disabilities!” Imparted with obvious emotion, Susan’s address elicited spontaneous applause – for both Carolyn and Susan.


“We can indeed be proud,” President John asserted. “In the intervening six years, we have put together one million dollars. More [playground] capability was added when we achieved that amount; that’s why it’s opening a little later than our centennial year.”


John then announced the installation of three new members: Christine Stead, Greg Holcombe, and Ken Arbogast-Wilson. He also reminded the assembly of the DOGS’ upcoming bed building in cooperation with Friends In Deed: Friday, August 25, at sometime in the afternoon.


“There will be a dry-run on Wednesday, August 30th, at Weber’s [in preparation for the May, 2018 RCAA move there for the duration of the Union Building renovation]. The speaker will U-M Business School dean, Scott DeRue. Amid some concern regarding which entrance at Weber’s to take for the meeting, John White clarified the issue: “It’s going to take place in the Atrium Ballroom,” to which Joan Knoertzer added, “Enter from the hotel entrance.” Oh, yes. “Lunch will be more expensive than usual -- $11 or so,” John interjected. “But then, you don’t have to pay for parking.” Reporter note: Good food, etc., but we’re going to really need a piano prelude that day.




They thought proper to go farther down upon the shore to see if they might safely put out to sea, but found the waves still running extremely high, and boisterous. There my uncle, laying himself down upon a sail cloth…called twice for some cold water, which he drank, when immediately the flames, preceded by a strong whiff of sulphur, dispersed the rest of the party, and obliged him to rise. He raised himself up with the assistance of two of his servants, and instantly fell down dead; suffocated, as I conjecture, by some gross and noxious vapour…. Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus on the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, during the eruption of Vesuvius on August 25, 79 AD.


Ann Arbor City Administrator, Howard Lazarus, then introduced our distinguished speaker. “It’s an honor for me, as I have gotten to know [Ann Arbor Fire Chief] Larry Collins over the past 14 months…Larry’s career began in Dayton, Ohio, where he’s still revered by the Department. Later, he became Fire Chief for Brevard County, Florida, where, if you know Brevard County, is located the Kennedy Space Center. Larry will speak today on the operations and strategic planning underway at your Ann Arbor Fire Department.”


After a hailstorm of applause, Larry took the podium, thanked Howard, and began, “It’s not all fire and smoke – there’s really a lot of data analysis.” The Chief acknowledged that Ann Arbor’s firefighting capability has been a work in progress. As Howard stated in his introduction, changes had to be made, and Larry was the man to make them. His first slide, titled ‘A Fire Problem 2014-16,’ cited domestic fires derived from cooking as a main culprit. “It was the fire problem when I got here; it’s the fire problem today, and for the nation,” Larry asserted, starkly. “Emergency services in Ann Arbor serve 29 square miles,” he pointed out. ”That’s 115,000 people!” In addition, the time period encompassed 20,283 total incidents. With only five fire stations, each “about 40 years old,” and total personnel of 88, the City has its work cut out for it. But progress is being made. “There’s been a huge decrease since 2013 in fire losses,” says Larry, who attributes this to several factors: 1. Quality dispatching; 2. City and citizen input “in the establishment of a strategic vision”; 3. Upgraded equipment: “We recently purchased a new fire & ladder truck. Called a ‘Quint’, it can reach the taller buildings being built today”; 4. Enhanced national accreditation, which, among other things, lowers insurance costs. 


While fire losses have decreased, Larry admitted that there are about 6,700 incidents requiring a fire dept. presence. Perhaps his most fascinating example was a video, produced by Underwriter’s Laboratories, showing two separate living rooms. One was furnished with “legacy pieces, furniture made before 1970,” the other with contemporary furniture and bric-a-brac. All of a sudden, a small fire breaks out simultaneously in both rooms. Everyone in the audience was probably making mental bets on which room would be engulfed first. The Chief explained – “Legacy furniture is made of natural materials, like wood, cloth, horsehair, etc. The contemporary room, on the other hand, is [comprised] of laminates, which are products of hydrocarbons.” Sure enough, the fire in the contemporary vignette began to go like a torch; curtains, sofa, even the end table, ignited, with the fire marching up the walls to the ceiling. In contrast, the legacy room’s fire had barely moved beyond the corner. Larry continued his riveting narration: “Now, look – the contemporary room: it’s about to ‘flash-over.” True enough, the room suddenly exploded in flame. It became apparent to all that this process, flash-over, is accelerated greatly by today’s composite building materials. “All that,” he expressed, soberly, “in 3½ minutes.”


One obvious way to heighten success in firefighting would be, it seems, to strengthen synergies with neighboring fire departments in other towns. Larry is cautious: “Championing a regional public safety dispatch service sounds good in theory, but it’s a bear to pull off.” Elevating regional partnerships remains, however, a priority, though perhaps a long-range one: “With our fire chiefs, we’ve had a series of discussions about this,” he says. Also a challenge is the closing or relocating of existing stations. “Symbols are very important to the community,” he observes, “even if those stations are 40 years old. It’s not just a question of tearing down an old station and building a new one…Station placement is very important.”


Lastly, as a further initiative “to enhance first response service,” Larry mentioned the likely presence of paramedics on each truck. “We have to be more engaged in the community,” stressed the Chief. With this man on the job, and it must have been clear to everyone in that room, this goal has been all but attained.


Amid a huge ovation, John thanked our speaker, and reminded the audience of the meaning of JET – “(J)oin leaders, (E)ngage leaders, (T)ake action!”


“Be The difference that makes a difference.” – Nagaraja Rao
Notes by Ed Hoffman, Photos by Fred Beutler


July and August District Newsletters
The district has posted two monthly newsletters; July and August. Both contain important information of interest to all local Rotarians, particularly those involved in grants, membership and youth. The July issue even includes an article by our own Mary Avrakotos about one of our international projects. Check them out!
Meeting Statistics

A total of 100 Rotarians were updated on the AAFD by fellow Rotarian Larry Collins. We also had one visiting Rotarian (Bryan Smith of Champaign IL who is now working in Ann Arbor) and one guest. There were two committee meetings before lunch; Annual Report Committee (three members) and G&TO (seven). Early in the day, 16 members of the Board met. Later in the day, seven Rotarians gathered in planning the Grand Opening of the Playground. Also reported was the meeting of six members of the Membership Committee on August 15. The Endowment Committee also reported their meetings of July 17 and August 14. A total of 18 Rotarians participated.


Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians:

None this week.



August 23 - Maggie Conger

August 25 - Doug Freeth

August 25 - Tom Strode

August 27 - Chris Fischer


Websites of interest to Rotarians

Rotary International: The RI home page has links to About Rotary, The Rotary Foundation, Club Locator and Member Access. Our Club is in Zone 29. The zone has 17 districts and covers portions of Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario.

District 6380Our district's website includes 51 clubs in the counties of Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland and Macomb in Michigan and Kent in Ontario. The district’s monthly newsletter and articles of district-wide interest are posted there.

Rotary Club of Ann Arbor: Our Club’s website provides background material and information including the current Annual Report, Active Framework (aka Strategic Plan), New Member Nomination Form, Committee Descriptions, Club and Golf Outing brochures, synopses of upcoming programs and an archive of Harpoons. Find us on Facebook.

Submit news, committee meetings, and announcements to the Harpoonthe newsletter of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor. Contact the Club to subscribe by email.

Our Club also sponsors the following Rotaract and Interact Clubs:

 U-M Rotaract Club

Huron High Interact Club

Pioneer High Interact Club

"Rotary Serving Humanity"