Wednesday, August 16, 2017

DG Mike Ruby visits, YMCA Update


It was nice to see some occasional Corporate members and guests at our club meeting.
Corporate members, Adam McLaughlin (LJ Roth) and Shawn Redlinger (Greiner Buildings)
LJ Roth's Dominique Comick and Bob Lamb

District Governor Mike Ruby 

Thanks to DG Mike Ruby of Muscatine for an inspiring and unconventional message. "farm your Rotary soil just a little deeper this year."
DG Mike Ruby
Greetings to the Rotary Club of Washington,

Many thanks for a wonderful visit with the Rotary Club of Washington. It is obvious you have a good, solid board of directors who are committed to making the club as strong as possible.  As we talked about membership challenges I saw several people taking notes so perhaps some of the ideas that were suggested may be considered in the future by the board.  

The support the club has given to the bike project is indeed very admirable.  This is a perfect example of the club’s Service Above Self commitment to have a positive impact on the lives of people on the other side of the world.  For 97 years the RC of Washington has done so many projects, both big and small, that have truly carried out this year’s theme of Rotary: Making a Difference. 

The club is very fortunate to have a good meeting room so that you can have Rotary related items permanently displayed.  The majority of clubs can only dream of having “their own” room.  

Seeing some of the projects the club has been involved in, walking through the town square and observing the sound system of the band shell, touring the fantastic performing arts center, taking a quick look at the fairgrounds, and again being reminded of so many special things about Washington, was a real treat.  I have vivid memories of arriving in Washington on RAGBRAI being dog tired but having a ball on the town square. 

As I mentioned, I am willing to return to Washington sometime after the first of the year to help guide the club in the topic of your choice.  This can be a meeting with just the board or the entire club, your decision.

Thank you for the gift of the “Rotary House”.  We have a special place in our 3 season porch where we will enjoy it for many years and recall today’s visit with the Rotary Club of Washington with fond memories.  

As stated in the story I shared, I encourage the club to find ways to farm your “Rotary soil” just a little deeper this year.  When you do, everyone is a winner.

A million thanks to you, Michelle, and to the rest of the club for a job well done.  Jo Anne and I found the club to be very open, friendly and welcoming.   The club is a highly respected part of the District 6000 Rotary Family.  


Mike Ruby
District Governor

World Bicycle Relief

Thanks to Jim Gorham for spearheading fundraising on the World Bicycle Relief project. Washington Rotary raised $2,943 which is enough to purchase 20 bicycles (@ $147). Rotary District 6000 will match that for a total of 40 bicycles!

Each of these made-in-America "Buffalo" bicycles will be shipped to Africa where they will be assembled and distributed for free to individuals in need of transportation to better their life. In our case, it will primarily be students needing transportation to school.

Michelle Redlinger, Jim Gorham, DG Mike Ruby

DG Mike Ruby, Jo Ann Ruby, and Michelle Redlinger


YMCA of Washington County leaders gave the Club an update on the YMCA's phased approach to building a new facility at the corner of West 5th St. and North D Ave.

Thanks to Interim Director Amy Schulte, YMCA Board Director Rachel Nicola, and Red Oak Rotarian and Development Consultant, Nick Zimmer.

Nick Zimmer, Amy Schulte, and Rachel Nicola

Amy Schulte and Rachel Nicola updated the Club on progress toward Phase 1 and Phase 2 of their construction project. This is a layout of the 2 floors in Phase 1.
YMCA Phase 1 Building Layout


August 17: Larry Fishback - RYLA
August 24: Denise Erpelding - Turkey Dinner Planning
August 31: Matt Greiner - TBA!
September 7: Club Forum!
September 11: Rotary Turkey Dinner
September 14: No Club Meeting

Leonard Goeke
It is sad to note that former Rotarian Leonard Goeke has passed away at age 87. Leonard was a member of Washington Rotary for 28 years while he worked at Northrup King (now Syngenta Seeds) and into retirement. Leonard's funeral is Friday at 11am at Jones Eden Funeral Home. On Thursday evening, there is a visitation from 5:00-7:00pm at the funeral home. Please keep Leonard's family in your thoughts and prayers. He was a real character and wore some wild vests every day.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

DG Mike Ruby, World Bicycle Relief & Rabies in Ethiopia

Make a special effort to attend Rotary on Thursday to meet and hear a message from District 6000 Governor, Mike Ruby and his wife Jo Anne. This will be just his 6th club visit as District Governor.
DG Mike & Jo Anne Ruby

John Winga

It is with heavy heart that we report that John Winga, a longtime Rotarian, businessman, and musician has passed away on Sunday evening from a recent illness. His memorial service will be Monday, August 7th at 10:30am at the United Presbyterian Church. Plans for a visitation are still developing.
John Winga
Please keep John, his wife Carol, and his children and grandchildren in your thoughts and prayers.

Welcome Guests to Washington Rotary!

Amy Schulte from the Washington County YMCA brought her daughter, Abby to Rotary.

Amy Schulte and Abby Schulte
Jim Gorham brought his wife Karen to Rotary.

Jim & Karen Gorham
Adam McLaughlin and Melanie Roth from L.J. Roth Restoration Services brought their colleague Dominique Cornick to Rotary.

Melanie Roth, Dominique Cornick, and Adam McLaughlin
Gary Murphy brought a bunch of his family, including Sylvia Murphy, who was our program!

Gary Murphy (far end) and Sylvia Murphy (nearest) with more family in between

World Bicycle Relief

Thanks to a Rotary program last month, we've been energized to help donate to the District's project this year - World Bicycle Relief, which is providing $147 Buffalo brand, heavy duty bicycles to students, entrepreneurs, and business people in Africa.

District 6000 and private donors are matching locally donated funds to multiply the number of bicycles purchased. Most of the bicycles donated from District 6000 will be targeted to young students to help them more easily participate in their education.

Washington has raised $2,943 which is enough to purchase 20 bicycles! And then those funds will be matched!

Check out a YouTube video of the impact of these bicycles on a young girl student.

Rabies in Ethiopia

Sylvia Murphy talks about rabies in Ethiopia
Sylvia Murphy works at the federal CDC and gave an informative presentation about efforts to confront a rabies epidemic in Ethiopia in eastern Africa. Most rabies in Ethiopia is spread by wild or semi-wild dogs, and her team worked to vaccinate as many dogs as they could.

Because the opportunity to spread diseases like rabies through easy international travel, the need for the US to help address preventable diseases in foreign nations is great.


August 3:  DG Mike Ruby visits Washington
August 10:  Sue Basten - Update from the Washington County YMCA
August 17:  Larry Fishback - Report on RYLA from students
August 24:  Denise Erpelding - Turkey Dinner Planning
August 31:  Matt Greiner - TBA
September 11: Rotary Turkey Dinner

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

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