Oct. 7, 21


October 7, 2021

By Dr. Leona Onderdonk Rowan

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order by Elizabeth Stevens, President of the Rotary Club of Mobile, at 12:15 p.m.

Moment of Silence:  Elizabeth Stevens asked for a moment of silence for Fr. Gregory F. Lucey, long time President of Spring Hill College, who passed away on September 30th.  He was a former member of downtown Rotary Club of Mobile.

Invocation:  Justine Bixler offered the invocation.

Pledge and Welcome:   Tommy Blankenship led the members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Members’ Guests:  Elizabeth Stevens called upon members to introduce their guests.

Student Guest:  John Hoyle, President of the Alabama School of Math and Science, introduced his school counselor, Ashley Dunklin.  She in turn introduced the student of the week, Olivia McAleer.


  • Save the Date: Rotary Annual Gala will be held the evening of Thursday, October 28th on the USS Alabama.  There will be no regular meeting that day.
  • A flyer was on each table for members to sign up for the Purple Pinkie Donut Project.
  • History Moment: Tom McGehee presented a brief history of the Rotary Club.
  • Barton Academy homecoming (spirit) week is October 4-8. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held October 7th at 4:00 followed by an Open House from 4:30 to 6:30.
  • Member birthdays were announced.
  • RYLA will be held March 4-7 at Camp ASCCA.
  • Members were reminded that the Rotary General Fund Grant applications are being accepted and the form can be found on the website.

Program:  James Fowler introduced Ricardo Woods, City Attorney for Mobile and partner with Burr and Forman, LLP.  Mr. Woods is a trial lawyer with first-chair trial experience, as well as extensive pre-trial litigation experience.  He currently serves as the Chair of DRI’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

The title of Mr. Woods’ presentation was “Growth and Expansion of Mobile”.  He explained that ambition is a key component of planning city growth and expansion.  To begin the process, the location of all blighted areas in Mobile were identified, street by street.  Then, considering the negative economic impact of urban blight, they explored ways to create affordable housing.

One strategy was to examine methods other cities are using successfully in this regard.  Then they identified funding sources such as Community Block Grants and the American Recovery Act. Applications for funds to improve blighted neighborhoods were submitted and funding was obtained.  For additional funding sources, they partnered with private developers who have helped pay for many of the improvements made in recent years.

In closing, Ricardo explained that annexation will be vital to ongoing growth and expansion in Mobile and that the relocation of Mobile’s airport to Brookley Field will help grow the downtown area.

After questions from the floor were answered, Elizabeth thanked Ricardo for speaking to our club and presented him a certificate noting that a donation has been made in his honor.

Closing Remarks and Adjournment:  Elizabeth announced that Andrew Elliott, Director of the British Embassy’s Northern Ireland Bureau, will be guest speaker next week in the Crystal Ballroom.  She adjourned the meeting at approximately 12:50 p.m.