Club Information

Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville

Downtown Gainesville Rotary

Service Above Self

We meet Wednesdays at 12:00 PM
Paramount Grill
12 SW 1st Avenue
Gainesville, FL  32601
United States
District Site
Venue Map
News about Downtown Gainesville Rotary
At the Indoor Ride to End Polio, our club had 24 riders, 36 participants, over $1,400 raised. 3 Rotary clubs participated along with, UF & SF Rotaract, & GHS Interact. Thanks to everyone whop participated!
The first committee meeting is an event site visit at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association after the Club meeting this week, August 24. GFAA  location: 1314 S Main Street (just north of Winn Dixie) All Rotarians are welcome to attend visit and discussion.
Downtown Gainesville Rotarians earned their share of awards from District 6970 in Orange Park this weekend at the "Rotary Serving Humanity" seminar.
Awards included the Every Rotarian Every Year award, given to clubs in which 100% of members contribute at least $100 to The Rotary Foundation, which has donated more than $3 billion to humanitarian causes since its beginning in 1917.
Downtown Rotarians were also recognized as second in Per Capita Giving to The Rotary Foundation among the 61 clubs in the district.
Pictured here are Bob Robar, Megan Forbes, Immediate Past President Cheryl Poe (during whose term the awards were achieved), President Ray Snook, Diane Robar and Ed Book.
We would like to welcome Diane Robar, Billy Brame, and Neal Cohen into our club. While the trio may be new to us, they are veteran Rotarians coming from The Rotary Club of Greater Gainesville. New member inductions will take place at this week's meeting.

For those needing a make up meeting or to see another Rotary club: The Greater Gainesville Rotary Club now meets at Jason's Deli at the Oaks Mall Plaza on the first and third Mondays of the month.

Get social and join other Downtown Rotarians on our Facebook page. You'll find great photos of club events and activities. Click here to visit!

Jessica Hurov, managing director of The Hippodrome Theatre, and Sarah Barnes, director of development, joined the Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville on May 11, 2016. They were inducted by Area Governor Megan Forbes and pinned by their sponsors. Shown here are Ed Book with Barnes, Hurov and Judy Locascio and Forbes.

Tom Sumrall joins Downtown Rotary

Tom Sumrall, right, is congratulated by his sponsor, Bob Taylor, at the Feb. 24 induction by President Cheryl Poe, not shown.

Stephanie Brod joins RC of Downtown GNV

Stephanie Brod, left, was inducted into the Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville on Jan. 27, 2016, by Rob Oglesby. Her sponsor is Judy Locascio, right. Stephanie is marketing and event coordinator at Haven Hospice.

Charles Westfall joins Downtown Rotary

Charles Westfall, center, was inducted into the Rotary Club of
Downtown Gainesville on Dec. 9, 2015 by Megan Forbes.
His sponsor is Ray Snook, shown at left.
November, December were busy months
  • Wine to Water Stewardship Awards were presented to author Cynthia Barnett, artist Margaret Tolbert and GRU's Sweetwater Branch Sheetflow Restoration Project on Nov. 18. Barnett was honored for her books Mirage, Blue Revolution and the most recent, Rain, all chronicling the serious threats to water on Planet Earth. Tolbert was chosen for her artistic representations of water issues on canvas, as well as in photography and videography. The Sheetflow Project re-established a natural filter of vegetation and water flow into Payne's Prairie and the Floridan Aquifer through the Alachua Sink.
  • A Ronald McDonald House Christmas Tree provided by the club is being decorated Dec. 2 by members.
  • Our Holiday Dinner and Baked Goods Auction is Dec. 16 at the Paramount Grill. The evening affair is in lieu of that day's regular meeting.
  • Dr. Theresa Beachy and Dr. Carolyn Tucker presented wonderful programs in November. Dr. Beachy, executive director of Peaceful Paths, unveiled the organization's brand-new home for abused women seeking refuge from bad domestic relationships. Dr. Tucker spoke about her developing program -- Health-Smart Behavior -- to identify and tackle poor eating habits that lead to obesity and life-long heath problems.

Marine Bob Gasche recounts terror at Iwo Jima

Whew! October flew by and here we are on the way to Thanksgiving! The month was another great one for programs, plus a Club Assembly to discuss goals and strategies.
Our speakers included  Karen Koegel of the Gainesville Fine Arts Association, which has just moved into a renovated building on South Main Street, after several years on North Main. "The Doris," affectionately named in memory of arts supporter Doris 
Bardon, has much more room in the new facility. Please visit soon to see what they have to offer.
We also heard from Stacie Greco, water conservation coordinator for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department about a subject near and dear to our club: water.
Conserving water for future generations and saving dollars on our utility bills are two of her primary areas of focus. She reminded us that new water restrictions are in place, limiting lawn irrigation to once a week. Check this site for details:
Our first speaker for November, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Bob Gasche, gave a riveting account of events leading up to the U.S. entry into World War II and his vivid memories of going ashore at Iwo Jima.
A steak and egg breakfast that morning was the last meal in the lives of hundreds of teen-aged U.S. soldiers, Gasche recalled. 
Waiting in tunnels, caves and other hideaways on the volcanic island, 22,000 Japanese troops waited until the U.S. soldiers were on the difficult volcanic soil and then opened fire with startlling fury.
Eventually, the Japanese were routed and the island became a critical refueling airfield for the B-29 bombing runs on Japan in 1945.

Bertrand gives economic, mfg update

Staci-Ann Bertrand, Director of Industry Development, updated Downtown Rotarians Oct. 7 on the Chamber of Commerce's five-year plan to attract and/or create 3,500 new jobs in the Gainesville area.
The Transform Greater Gainesville program will be funded through corporate and business contributions along with state funding. Of special interest will be an effort to create more global exports from the local economy. The area's biggest global export now is well-educated talent from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College.
Downtown Gainesville Rotarians Perry Pursell, a Realtor, and Greg Fleming, a bank executive, are both active in the Chamber efforts.  

Alzheimer's Association leader speaks

David Huckabee, associate director of the Alzheimer's Association in this region, spoke to Downtown Rotarians Sept. 30. He encouraged members to donate and/or participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer's this Saturday, Oct. 10.

Salvation Army leader joins Downtown Rotary

Daimion Roberts, flanked by President Cheryl Poe and Immediate Past President Rob Oglesby, was inducted into The Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville on Sept. 30. Lt. Roberts leads the Salvation Army in Gainesville.
Interim Treasurer Billy Combs reports that club quarterly invoices can be paid by credit card. Just ask to pay by credit card and he will make sure you get the appropriate invoice. 

Youth sports examined by UF professor

Dr. Michael Sagas, a professor and researcher in UF's College of Health and Human Performance, gave an insightful look at the state of youth sports in the United States at our Sept. 23 meeting.
While the U.S. has one of the best organized and privately funded youth sports programs from elementary to college age students, the number of participants is in gradual decline in many sports, while obesity incidence and fitness levels of American youths and adults are worsening.
Sagas, who was a collegiate gymnast at Texas A&M, said part of the problem is the de-emphasis on physical education in publi schools, as well as the increasing expense of competitive youth sports: his family's expenditures for a single season of his daughter's participation on a volleyball travel team was more than $18,000. High school sports, largely funded by taxes, provide a major feeder system to collegiate sports programs.
Sagas said he was concerned that many children, especially in expensive competitive youth sports programs, specialize too early and may well miss better opportunities in another sport.

Jolly Good Fellows celebrate Downtown Rotary's 25th

Downtown Gainesville Rotarians paid homage to the club's first quarter-century on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, recalling events, conventions, enduring friendships and projects at home and abroad done in the spirit of "Service Above Self."
Club President Cheryl Poe certainly made Wednesday's celebration an affair to remember, replete with a Rotary-themed birthday cake, beautiful table-settings and an outstanding  keepsake booklet of club photos and memories. President Cheryl and Joe Lowry Jr. may have also disproved the notion that this is "not a singing club" by leading us in a rousing rendition of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," sung lustily by all attending.
Two new members were inducted into the club on this historic day: Brett Buell, sponsored by Ed Book, and Edward Emery, sponsored by Jon Uman. Brett willingly accepted the task of ticket-master for the November Seafood Spectacular.
Featured speakers included Connie Rowe, widow of J. Ben Rowe Jr, the club's founding president; Charter Members Ed Oehmig and Jim Islam, and former Downtown Rotarian and Past District 6970 Gov. John Brunner.
Connie recalled she was the third woman to become a member. The first lasted only 4 months, she said, and the second, Karen Crapo, passed away while a member. Connie did  great deal of work for the club prior to becoming a member and continues to this day, currently serving as interim Sergeant-at-Arms.
Ed Oehmig had the audience in stitches with his recollection of the early Rotary Foundation Auctions held at the Garden Club. Someone had donated an iguana, caged, to the auction being conducted by Ben Rowe, who was aware that a little hooch will loosen up bank accounts and got Ed into a bidding war for the iguana. To his disbelief, Ed went home that evening with the iguana, which subsequently terrorized his children, biting and scratching "worse than a dog."
Ed also proudly recalled being involved in Rotary's End Polio campaign started in 1983. He was a member of the Gainesville Rotary Club at that time and had a cousin with polio, so Ed was an early proponent of the campaign. He pointed out that the Downtown Rotary club has 
given nearly $350,000 to the Rotary Foundation in its first 25 years.

Student debt is real, but not for all

A UF professor told members of the Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville Sept. 9 that while about 60 percent of students nationally finish college in debt for tuition and fees, 40 percent do not.
Dr. Dennis Allan Kramer, Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Associate Director of UF's Institute of Higher Education, said media coverage often overstates the extent of the problem by focusing on students with extraordinary debt they may never be able to pay off with their expected lifetime earnings.
The average college debt for the 60 percent who owe it is $25,000, Kramer, an economist, who has been published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, pointed out.
Nonetheless, he referred to graduates' debt as a "massive explosion" over the past 20 years.
The University of Florida, where tuition has climbed significantly, is ranked favorably, however: sixth least expensive among four-year public schools in the nation.
Among the the causes for the student debt, Kramer said, are states' disinvestment in higher education ("Unlike K-12, college is not a constitutionally guaranteed right") and for-profit colleges such as the University of Phoenix (their 3 percent of enrollment generates 25 percent of the total U.S. student debt.)
As for universal free tuition, Kramer opposes it. He said the bulk of students attending college would be those that could afford to pay.

County previews Business Action Plan

An overview of Alachua County's new Business and Economic Growth Action Plan was presented to Downtown Gainesville Rotarians Sept. 2 by Edgar Campa-Palafax, the county's Economic Development Coordinator.
The action plan is the "culmination of a year of collaborative effort involving the Alachua County Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Alachua County staff and citizens."

Harn curator previews 2016 photo exhibit

Carol McCusker, Curator of Photography at the UF's Harn Museum of Art, gave Rotarians an expert view of the history of photojournalism around the globe, noting the powerful effect that early photos had on readers.
She cautioned the audience to maintain a healthy skepticism in acknowledgement that a single frame or a video rarely, if ever, tells the whole story. But she also said that trained photojournalists willl not intentionally make photographs that twist the story. At left, she chats with a member following her presentation.
McCusker, for nine years the Curator of Photography at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, curated more than 35 exhibitions there.
She is now curating a 2016 exhibit for the Harn, titled America in the Middle East: Aftermath--The Fallout of War. The exhibit will present 144 images, a dozen by each of 12 photogprahers from around the world who have recorded global violence.

Deputy Beattie chosen Officer of the Month

Congratulations to Alachua County Sheriff's Deputy of the Month Beattie! Pictured with Sgt Crews. Among other things, his efforts prevented further victimization of a young person. The honor to have had him with us August 19 is all ours.

Sea turtles capture audience attention 

Had a fine educational program today, August 19, by Gary Appelson with the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Located in Gainesville, the STC is the oldest sea turtle research and conservation group in the world.
The STC was founded by sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr in 1959. Dr. Carr, a zoologist at the UF was a leading early advocate for sea turtles, which populate Florida beaches by the thousands during nesting season, laying eggs from which hatchlings emerge and begin their lives, which can last 50 to 60 years.
Appelson focused on efforts to moderate lighting on Florida beaches during nesting season to reduce the "disorientation" of the hatchlings as they leave the nest. Bright lights from oceanfront hotels and attractions confuse the juveniles as they depart their nests at daybreak.
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