Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rotary 2017 Awards Dinner

Washington Rotary again had a wonderful Annual Awards dinner at Marr Park Education Center near Ainsworth. Thanks to everyone that attended, and to those that helped clean up!
2017 Rotary Awards Dinner program
Cafe Dodici catered our delicious dinner. Thanks past club president, Tsalika Rich!
Tsalika Rich catering from Cafe Dodici
Dr. Ann Harris was pleased to tell the attendees who had won each of Rotary's scholarships and awards. Thanks Dr. Ann for helping to create a great event.

For a complete list of past award and scholarship winners, visit our web site at:

Dr. Ann Harris told us about the award winners


The Washington Rotary Club has awarded an annual Community Service Award since 1953. Since 2007, the award has been named after Washington businessperson, Rotarian, and philanthropist, Bill Sitler who exemplified the Rotary motto of “Service above Self.”

Bob Ruppert is the 2017 Bill Sitler Rotary Community Service Award winner. Bob was born in Guthrie County, graduating from country school in 1945, when he went on to serve in the Navy. He moved to Washington in 1952 to work at Farmer’s Implement. In 1972, Bob became the co-owner then sole owner of Farmers Implement until he retired in 1994 and sold the business. In 1954 he met and later married Ella May, and they have celebrated 62 years of marriage. Bob and Ella May have 2 children, Dr. Karen (Jon) McFarland of Washington, and Doug (Cindy) Ruppert of Iowa City. They have 5 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter.

Ruppert joined Rotary in 1988 and was named Rotarian of the Year in 2002. In Rotary, he has coordinated working the volunteers at the County Fair entrance gates, as well as being the leading Rotary Turkey Dinners ticket sales leader for many years. In the community, Bob attends and serves the United Methodist Church and served on the Washington County Hospital Foundation board, where he also sold a lot of tickets to the WCHC Pork Dinner fundraiser. Bob has volunteered at the WCHC since 1996, helping to bring mail and other services to patients.

To recognize Bob’s work, Rotary awards him $100 for him to donate to the charity of his choice, for which he selected the Salvation Army.

Bob Ruppert and family - 2017 Bill Sitler Community Service Award Winner


The Washington Rotary Club has awarded the Rotarian of the Year annually since 1995 to recognize a Rotarian who has demonstrated outstanding service to our Club.

The 2017 Rotarian of the Year award goes to Denise Erpelding, a past Club president in 2011. Denise is the chair of the annual Rotary Turkey Dinner, a counselor for Rotary foreign exchange students, and always there to step up to the plate to help when needed. She works at Horak Insurance, and co-owns Archer Appliance and Electronics with her husband Kevin Erpelding. She receives recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow with the Rotary International Foundation.
Denis Erpelding was surprised to be named Rotarian of the Year by Cheryl Kurtz


The Washington Rotary Club has been awarding scholarships to local high school students since 1964, and the first recipient was Illa Mae Ernest.

In 2017, Washington Rotary Club is pleased to announce three scholarship winners, each receiving a $1,000 award. 

Reid Basten is the son of the Sue and Tom Basten. Reid plans to attend the University of Iowa to major in science teaching and chemistry. He participated in Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp in 2015. He was in the National Honor Society, 4-H, Peer Helpers, Speech, and Drama, as well as playing basketball and soccer. He volunteered in Washington Spring Clean-UP, and in his church youth group. He works a part-time job.

John Dillon is the son of Ron and Karen Dillon. John plans to attend Central College to major in business management, and will play college football. He was in the National Honor Society, Boys State, and BPA, as well as participating in football (academic All-State), basketball, and soccer. John did community service and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Hospice Run, annual Tree Giveaway, Blair House repairs, and participated on church youth mission trips, and Carver Hawkeye clean-up crew. John also works a part-time job.

Alexis Turner is the daughter of Eric and Jennifer Turner. She plans to attend ISU to study architecture and design. Alexis was the Vice President of National Honor Society, participated in student congress, Peer Helpers, BPA, attended Girls State, as well as participating in volleyball, track, dance team, and Dance Marathon. She volunteered for numerous school activities including Camp Invention, youth girls volleyball camp, snowball classic, and working concession stands, She has worked several part-time jobs in high school.


In addition, Washington Rotary Club is awarding the annual John Prochaska Rotary Service Award, which includes a $200 award. This years awardee is Aaron Vittetoe.

Aaron Vittetoe, son of Don and Alicia, plans to attend ISU to major in Ag Studies. Aaron was in the National Honor Society, and FFA, volunteered for many community activities, worked a part-time job, and played baseball and golf in high school. He addended Rotary Youth Leadership Award camp in 2014.

The funding for these scholarships and awards comes from Club fundraisers, such as the annual Rotary Turkey Dinner, which will be held again on Monday, September 11. Thanks to the community for supporting us each year!

Assist. DG Bob Freeman spoke about DG Mike Rudy's upcoming year

Michelle Redlinger is the 2017-18 Club President

Congratulations to all the Awards and Scholarship Winners! Thanks for all that you do.
Denise Erpelding, Bob Ruppert, John Dillon, Alexa Turner
Thanks to all the Rotarians and spouses that helped to clean up and do the dishes after the event!
Cleanup Crew


July 27: Gary Murphy - Rabies Eradication in Ethiopia
August 3: District Governor Mike Rudy!!
August 10: Sue Basten - YMCA Update
August 17: Larry Fishbac - RYLA Kids Update
August 24: Denise Erpelding - Turkey Dinner Planning
August 31: Matt Greiner - TBA


Another Rotary newsletter will come out later this week about the Rotary Bicycle project.
If you are interested in donating toward this great international cause, bring your $150 (or your checkbook) to Rotary THIS THURSDAY!


The next newsletter will also have more info about the upcoming Hotel/Motel Tax referendum. The vote is Tuesday, August 1st, but you can vote at the Courthouse any day.
Shall the City of Washington, Iowa be authorized to impose by Ordinance a Local Hotel and Motel Tax at the rate of seven percent (7%), effective January 1, 2018, with at least fifty percent (50%) of the revenues derived from the Local Hotel and Motel Tax to be used for the promotion and encouragement of tourist and convention business in the city and surrounding areas; and the remaining revenues derived from the Local Hotel and Motel Tax to be used for all other purposes permitted by Chapter 423A of the Code of Iowa.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Johannah Vittetoe reaches for Miss Iowa

Emory VanGerpen had todays program, and we learned a little bit more about him. In addition to being a career missionary in Africa with his wife Phylis, Emory met Miss Idaho at an African hospital while his wife was giving birth to their first child. They have been friends ever since.
Emory VanGerpen
Thanks to Melanie Roth of L.J. Roth for bringing daughter Josie to Rotary this week! Welcome Josie!
Melanie & Josie Roth

Johannah Vittetoe

We were pleased to hear from Johannah Vittetoe of Washington, the reigning Miss Southeast Iowa.
Johannah Vittetoe - Miss Southeast Iowa
We learned a lot about the Miss America organization, which is the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the US. The path to "Miss America" begins with local competitions. In order to compete in local competitions, there are several requirements.

Contestants must raise funds for the Children's Miracle Network - Johannah has raised $6,000!

You also must have a "platform" - Johannah's platform is to raise awareness of eating disorders. At Washington High School, Johannah was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, and battled back from that to physical and mental health.

You can read or subscribe to Johannah's website blog Find The Beauty, about her ongoing confrontation with the eating disorder disease.

Johannah is a Resource Person volunteer for the online Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD), assisting people that are reaching out for help.

She has also was a part of the college chapter of Proud2BME, which is an organization that promotes positive body image and encourages healthy attitudes about food and weight. She is working to get new chapters started around the country.

Lastly, Johannah is an active volunteer for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) where she is a "social media watchdog," and a co-coordinator for the NEDA Walk in Iowa.

The local competitions leading up to Miss America include several components
  • 10 minute interview - explain your platform and why you are competing, discuss social issues and current events
  • Respond on-stage to a question - which could be anything, so quick thinking and knowledge of current events/issues is critical
  • Lifestyle and Fitness
  • Talent - Johannah's is "clog dancing" which she did not demonstrate...
  • Evening Gown and walking (which is hard)

Johannah Vittetoe
Best wishes to Johannah as she looks forward to the Miss Iowa competition in Davenport starting on June 22nd, and hopefully on to the Miss American competition this fall!

You can follow her on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/MissSoutheastIowa/

Or you might also catch her portraying Elsa from the movie "Frozen," although she won't be singing "Let It Go." That's what YouTube is for.

Johannah Vittetoe as Elsa


June 22:  Susan Wellington
June 28:  WEDNESDAY, Rotary Awards Dinner - Marr Park
June 29:  No Club Meeting
July 6:  Michelle Redlinger - Hotel Motel Tax w/ Charla Howard
July 13:  Steve Olson, TBA
July 20:  Sue Basten, TBA

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dr. Jorgensen talks about Highland Schools

Welcome and thanks to our visitors this week at Washington Rotary. 

Thanks to Rotarian, Kurt Sorensen for inviting new colleague Angela Langstraat at Hills Bank and Trust. Welcome Angela!
Angela Langstraat and Rotarian, Kurt Sorensen 
Rotarian, Craig Davis will take credit for inviting former Rotarian, Kiersten Peck back for one more week before Kiersten, Nic and Anders head back to Minnesota where she will be a career counselor for a private college. Washington and Kirkwood Washington Regional Center will all miss Kiersten.
Rotarian, Craig Davis and former Rotarian, Kiersten Peck

Dr. Mike Jorgensen

Dr. J was the Washington School superintendent for 8 years, and was a valued Rotarian. He slid into semi-retirement two years ago, and did some teaching at Kirkwood.

He came back to Rotary to talk about his upcoming return to work. Dr. J will be the interim superintendent at Highland School District in nearby Riverside. He said that he had previously been superintendent in western Iowa at a district that was about the same size with many of the same issues as Highland, so he believes he is a good fit and has the background to help the school and community.

Dr. J also noted that he has lost about 60 pounds after discovering that he was pre-diabetic. He has changed his diet and started running again. Thankfully, his body is now eligible to be donated to science.

Dr. Mike Jorgensen


June 15 - Emory Van Gerpen
June 22 - Susan Wellington
June 28 - WEDNESDAY Rotary Annual Dinner at Marr Park
June 29 - NO Club meeting

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ashland KS part 2

Welcome to Ryan Sempf, the new public policy director at the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce. Ryan was a guest of Ed Raber.
Ryan Sempf

It is great to see our new-ish members, like Brandi Hemsley of JET Physical Therapy at the club meeting.
Brandi Hemsley from JET Physical Therapy


Rotarian and rotating caterer, Tsalika Rich explains a time saving innovation she calls "bus your own plates over here as you leave."

Tsalika Rich

Don Patterson

Past Club President, Becky Patterson thanked the club members for their support and care in the passing of Past District Governor, Don Patterson on May 3rd.

Thanks to you Becky, for being a tremendous leader, club member, and wife to a great Rotarian. We appreciate seeing you at Rotary.
Past Club President - Becky Patterson


John Moenck said that he was looking forward to being Rotary's coordinator for staffing the gates for the Washington County Fair, from July 16-21. He said he needs another leader willing to assist during the mornings or afternoons. 

Moenck is also going to be contacting Rotarians to work at least 1 shift taking tickets at a Fair gate. This is always some fun community service each summer!

John Moenck

Taking Hay & Supplies to Ashland KS

Thanks to Carol Horning for her touching story about how a group of Washington County farmers quickly coordinated a trip to Ashland, Kansas to deliver donated hay bales to devastated cattle farmers affected by tremendous fires in March. Numerous subsequent trips with supplies and hay have followed, and she has gotten very close to the Ashland community.

Carol Horning
Carol said that the fires impacted an area the size of Delaware. There were thousands of cattle that died in the fire, which accounts for 1.3 million lost meals.

Carol also reported that so far, they have taken $80,000 worth of equipment and supplies to Ashland. She said that a fencing company in Kalona has been generous enough to sell them equipment as cost, which has made the donations stretch a lot farther.

If you would like to donate to this ongoing effort, there is an account set up at Washington State Bank to accept donations.


May 25: John Moenck - TBA
June 1: Gene Driscoll - TBA
June 8: John Thorne - TBA
June 15: Emory Van Gerpen - TBA
June 22: Susan Wellington - TBA
June 28: WEDNESDAY, Rotary Awards Dinner @ Marr Park, 6pm
June 29: No Club Meeting

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mission Trip to replace fencing in Ashland KS

Hello Washington Rotarians!

Member Spotlight

Dick Colby had the program and gave a little background on himself. He grew up in Minnesota, and eventually was managing a hotel in Des Moines before moving to Washington where he became the Administrator at the United Presbyterian Home. He has three grown children, all of which were taught social studies in school by Jim Cuddeback in his previous life.
Dick Colby

Mission Trip to Ashland, KS

Jim Cuddeback is a farmer and a member of the United Presbyterian Church in Washington. He related that the UP Church has sponsored an adult mission trip for 20 years. The group raises funding for the mission trip primarily by working a concession stand at Carver Hawkeye Arena at the University of Iowa for sporting events, and raises about $3,000 per year.
Jim Cuddeback & Club Pres. Cheryl Kurtz
Cuddeback said that the UP Church responded to terrible grassland fires in Kansas on March 6-8 by taking a group of 24 to help replace destroyed fencing around Ashland, KS. Cuddeback related that 2017 was such a bad year for fires due to unusual amounts of rain in 2015 and 2016 that resulted in exceptional grassland growth. Once the fires started, they were impossible to stop, reaching speeds of 60 mph.

The largest single fire burned 651,000 acres (Washington County is 368,000 acres).

UP Church Adult Mission Team on fire scorched ground


May 18: Paul Horak - Carol Horning, Taking Hay to Ashland KS
May 25: John Moenck - TBA
June 1: Gene Driscoll - TBA
June 8: John Thorne - TBA
June 15: Emory VanGerpen - TBA
June 22: Susan Wellington - TBA
June 28: WEDNESDAY, Rotary Awards Dinner @ Marr Park, 6pm
June 29: No Club Meeting