February 16, 2017

Minutes of the Rotary Meeting – February 16, 2017
By: Henry R. Seawell, IV
Invocation, Song, Music and Pledge
The meeting was called to order by club president, Les Greer. Jerrime Kitsos offered the invocation. Tommy Fulton led the Song and Pledge, accompanied by Bill Oppenheimer on the piano. Mr. Greer offered his Rotary Tidbit of the week, informing the Club that two Rotary chapters are currently in operation in Antarctica, despite the fact that the continent has no permanent residents.
Introduction of Guests and Visitors: Tom Martenstein.
Announcements: The Rotary District cruise is scheduled to begin on April 27, 2017, while the Rotary of Mobile golf tournament will be held on April 18, 2017. A board meeting was held on the same day as the meeting. RYLA will be held for high school juniors and seniors from March 9-12, 2017, and members were encouraged to contact Peggy Buggs or Aimee Risser for additional information about this event. The Board of Directors for Rotary Mobile recently announced its intention to match all donations to the Rotary Foundation with the stated objective of increasing the number of Paul Harris fellows in our club by 50.
Cameron Robinson, a Rotary Student of the Week in January of this year, has formed an Interact Club at Murphy High School. This Club is being sponsored by Rotary of Mobile and 65 students have already signed up to be involved. Additionally, Sunrise Rotary Club has 48 new members, and officers will be inducted contemporaneously with the Club’s chartering this spring.
Student of the Week
The student of the week was Shelby “Cate” Hodges, a senior at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, introduced by Jeff Luther and Dr. Mark Foley. Dr. Foley described how Cate’s character had developed during the course of her time at St. Paul’s and shared her Grade Point Average, a staggering 4.4. We wish Cate every success in her future endeavors.
Speaker: Mr. Sandy Stimpson, the 108th Mayor of the City of Mobile, Alabama, was introduced by Rich Landolt and offered the Club a very informative glance into the State of the City. Mayor Stimpson broke down the happenings in the city into three categories, Exciting, Challenging and Choices.
A major source of Excitement in the city is the thriving business community and rapidly improving infrastructure. Some examples include Carnival Cruise Lines, which returned to the City after a multi-year absence and has been operating at 115% capacity; Austal, which is building three ships a year, including two LCSs (Littoral Combat Ships); Airbus is continuing to ramp up production and will be assembling one aircraft per week by the end of this year; twenty-five new restaurants have opened in the Port City in the past year; and Wal-Mart announced their intent to station a major distribution facility in our area. Of interest to our members who reside on the Eastern Shore, ALDOT and Thompson Engineering have been working diligently to transform the I-10 Bridge from concept to creation. Thompson has nearly completed its environmental impact study and construction could begin the latter part of 2018.
Despite the business successes described above, Mobile is experiencing some major Challenges, as well. Most notably, the public housing in the Mobile area has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. The Mayor’s office is working with HUD in an attempt to alleviate this situation. Additionally, the I-Team continues to scour the city identifying blight. Mayor Stimpson described a new bill pending during this legislative session that would help expedite the acquisition of blighted and abandoned properties in order to more expeditiously deal with this problem.
Finally, Mayor Stimpson encouraged all Rotarians to make Choices that support the continued strength and prosperity of our city. With the return of GulfQuest and new exhibits at the Exploreum, downtown Mobile is more vibrant and culturally sophisticated than ever. We were asked to pray for the city of Mobile and participate in its evolution from “Good to Great.” A comprehensive facilities assessment is taking place and the viability of the city’s 500 properties, including the Civic Center, are under review.
The meeting was adjourned.