Posted by Joe Wald
On this first Friday of the New Year, President- Elect Dennis Fliehman gave us all a preview of his enthusiastic style as he welcomed Lansing Rotarians and guests to our first meeting of 2018 just a few minutes early. As he looked over the assembled masses, he couldn’t help but comment about the full house to usher in the New Year. Even past President Jack Davis was on time for the meeting – well almost.
 
The invocation was given by Linda Lynch followed by a strong rendition of the Star- Spangled Banner (of course anytime I sit near Mark Hooper it sounds like the entire choir is in tune.) Maria Lenz was busy traversing the room as she delivered the microphone for guests and visiting Rotarian introductions including possibly the youngest visitor yet at just 3 weeks old – and I think I heard some cooing to the National Anthem.
 
John Grettenberger, Sr. announced the health of the club was good and punctuated this with the announcement of two holiday babies – Al Yambor’s child and John Dale Smith’s grandchild. (I’ll take some journalistic liberties and add my name to the list as our first grand-daughter decided to join the celebration just prior to Christmas. Can’t think of a better way to usher in the holidays!)
 
Melissa Nay began announcements by awarding Helen Mickens with the Social Media Posting $10 gift card award. Remember – you could be the next big winner if you get involved in our social media blitz of Lansing Rotary. Michelle Reynaert led the December Birthday announcement leaving us with just a few favorite (groaner) jokes. December birthday Rotarians have donated $740 to date, but that is with only 60% participation. Now I am just saying, to remind not only our December Rotarians, but all of Lansing Rotary, that donations three times a year are the expectation of membership. It saves us from participating in bake sales and the like. Come on Rotarians – you can do this!  And there is still time for our December birthdays to send in those checks.
 
Jenn Dubey spoke about the Hands- on Committee Project (formerly the Special Project Committee), which is looking for an opportunity every quarter for Lansing’s Rotarians to help to make a difference. For January, the Cristo Rey Community Center has been chosen, and the need is great. Working with Lansing Rotarian Joe Garcia, Jenn and her committee developed a list of food and personal care items that are in great need at Cristo Rey for the many clients they serve. This list includes paper products, personal hygiene items, kitchen (food) staples, breakfast foods, canned goods, dental products, baby products, household items, and of course all food items as long as they are unopened, unused, not expired and nonperishable. Kudos to Jenn and her committee for identifying these important needs in our community, and no better place to begin the year than at Cristo Rey. All Rotarians are encouraged to bring items in on Fridays, which will be boxed and delivered to Cristo Rey at the end of the month.
 
Special Music was introduced by Courtney Millbrook. Beginning the year on a high note, Courtney was obviously delighted to welcome David Cooper to Lansing Rotary. David, a Grand Ledge native, is the first American to be awarded the principal horn position with the prestigious Berlin Symphony. An MSU grad, David is the third- generation horn player to perform at the Lansing Symphony. Playing the French Horn, David provided a little French Horn history lesson in addition to some wonderful music, accompanied of course, by our own maestro, John Dale Smith.
 
Joan Bauer than introduced our first speaker of 2018, Lansing’s new Mayor, Andy Schor. Nothing like setting the bar high for this new year right on day one. A member of Mayor Schor’s transition team, Joan spoke of the amazing resume which our new Mayor brings with him, all valuable in preparation for the many new challenges he and our community will face. Andy has worked with State Senator (now US Senator) Gary Peters, the Granholm administration, served as Deputy Director of State Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, served on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, served as State Representative for the 68th District, served as Minority Floor Leader, and that was just the beginning with much more listed in the Rotogram introduction. Known for his bipartisan and collaborative approach to problem solving, Mayor Schor brings not only enthusiasm and knowledge to his new role in leading our city, but also a keen sense of optimism which has already been mirrored for the city by Lansing residents and businesses. Joan concluded her introduction stating that that our new Mayor brings talents, skills and strengths we will need, in addition to the fact that he is smart, reasonable, experienced and so much more. She then brought up our new Mayor as a man of both planning and action, Andy Schor.
 
Mayor Schor began his remarks by acknowledging the importance of addressing the Lansing Rotary early in his term (like on Day 5). He commented on the wonderful community support at the Inauguration, attracting between 600-700 people, and made certain he shared that his wife is Board Chair at the I-5 Museum, thanking Lansing Rotary for its support of the water exhibit.
 
Mayor Schor’s remarks centered around the excitement and enthusiasm that he has seen across the community. He believes that our city is ready for a change. He is proud to be in Lansing to help lead our community. Mayor Schor’s early vision is to be bold and capitalize on the excitement. At the February State of the City address, he will share much more. Focusing next on the many components of our community, he spoke of the special identities of each of Lansing’s neighborhoods and the pride that residents have in their neighborhood. Next, he spoke of the quiet successes of the Lansing Schools, now attracting students from surrounding areas. The ‘pathways’ focus is bringing a new respect for our schools. “We don’t talk enough about what we are doing, and we need to. People don’t know”, he stated. Moving right along, our new Mayor acknowledged the need to address our infrastructure- roads and more. As part of this need, a new Customer Advocate will be introduced to make certain that citizen comments are responded to on a timely basis. “We will be responsive” he emphatically stated. Mayor Schor then reminded us that his predecessors in office have had excellent themes as part of their administrations to get our city moving and to keep it focused. From a “world class city” to “good to great”, these efforts have created our opportunity for this city to move forward, siting the theme for his administration of “we are ready, right now”. Now it is our time, our time to shine. Looking to our citizens and business owners to step forth and help, we will use all the exceptional talent in our community to move our city forward. At this point, Mayor Schor concluded his remarks and responded to questions and comments from the Lansing Rotary audience. Comments ranged from roads to the $680 million in unfunded pension and health care costs – one of the larger issues facing our community. But, he stated, we are ahead of many communities in these challenges. To this need, he plans to engage the community, including the unions as well as the State. As the clock ran down, Mayor Schor promised that for these and every problem and challenge he faces in his new role, he will use the prism of what is best for the city of Lansing as directions and solutions are developed. On the topic of regionalism, our Mayor plans to maximize the many relationships we have, to develop collaborative approaches to the future. By leveraging our relationships, we will ensure effectiveness for our citizens. President-Elect Dennis announced it was now time for all to return to work (or whatever the weekend might have in store for Lansing’s Rotarians). Wishing our new Mayor luck and success as he takes on his new role, Dennis did comment about the rumor that President Darwin Brewster might just be recovering from a Mexican sunburn, but all indications are that he will be back on the podium next week when MSU President Lou Anna Simon will be our featured speaker.
 
Can’t think of a better way to usher in the new year for Lansing Rotary. Best wishes to all for a successful, healthy and sunshine filled year in 2018. (By the way, a little heat wouldn’t hurt either).
 
The meeting was concluded as the clock struck 1:30 on this cold but sunshine filled first Friday of the New Year.
 
Joe Wald's email is:  jwald71@gmail.com