News & Notices

News from the club and its members and notices.

Rotary Minute: Shelly Green

Anyone that was surprised hearing about Shelly Green’s background in music hasn’t been near her table when we sing America the Beautiful at the beginning of a meeting… It’s pretty impressive and I’m sure she’s holding back so as not to embarrass us less talented souls. I laughed when she mentioned that her new music teacher at the University of Miami informed her that she wasn’t an alto even though she had sung that her whole life. I don’t even know what that means, probably because the only music “teacher” I ever had, a nun back at St. Bridget’s elementary school, told me that I was a “listener.”

A couple of things I’ve noticed about these Rotary minutes is that we often see a side of our fellow Rotarians that we don’t usually see and then how they often underplay their professional accomplishments. Shelly was no exception, especially on the latter point. The DCVB has been been pretty darn important to the revival of Durham in the last few decades negotiating the slippery slopes of both marketing and politics. Having Shelly ready to step in when he retired is one more thing we have Reyn Bowman to thank for. You can visit the DCVB website to see the tip of the iceberg of all the organization undertakes. If you are asked to recommend just one website to get a flavor of Durham, this is the one. Besides guiding that organization for four years, Shelly has gotten her daughter off to college, become a Reading Ranger at Y.E. Smith, served on Rotary’s board and organized a couple of successful fundraisers for the club.

Below is the text of Shelly’s Rotary Minute if you missed it. It’s a good read even without her cheerful and humorous presentation of it. 

                           -jz

ShellyGreen2web

I grew up in upstate New York, one of three children. I was the middle child, with a sister 13 months older and a brother 5 years younger than me. I had a stay at home mom and a dad who worked in construction. Like any other middle child, my baby book has only three entries in it. And like most middle children, I’m creative, independent and good at compromising and negotiating.

My family was very poor. But I never knew it. I grew up learning to help those in need, especially the most vulnerable among us. Maybe that was because my Dad was a Rotarian. One of my favorite activities as a child was collecting money for UNICEF in what looked like little orange milk cartons.

So fast forward a decade or so. My family moved to Dunedin, Florida, when my dad got a job with U.S. Homes as a superintendent. He oversaw the building of what some might call cookie cutter houses. They were all the rage in the early 1970s.

To say my high school was overcrowded is an understatement. We had more than 3,600 students. Freshmen and sophomores went to school at 12:30 in the afternoon until 5:30 p.m. Juniors and seniors went from 7:00am – 12:00 noon. There were no breaks and no lunch. Just six class periods and then you were done.

At the end of my junior year, my high school choir went on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. There was another group of high school students on the same ship. They were part of a summer camp at the University of Miami. I ended up attending that camp the week before the cruise.

It turned out to be a pivotal moment in my life, because I met Dr. Lee Kjelson, who became a teacher, mentor and friend for the next 30 years.

By the last semester of my senior year 4 out of 6 of my classes were music classes. If we had AP classes back then I didn’t know about them and was not at all on the radar of any of the guidance counselors at my school.

Despite graduating 17th in my class of more than 800 students, no one—parents included—ever discussed college with me. We didn’t have the money and I never thought it was in my reach. With no other plans formulated, I enrolled in St. Petersburg Junior College as a music student.

Dr. Kjelson kept in touch throughout that year inviting me down to audition. I finally went in February, six months after studying voice for the first time. My new teacher informed me I wasn’t an alto even though I had sung that part my whole life. I had to learn how to sing all over again.

I bombed my audition and we all knew it. Afterward Doc held up the form that was used by the voice faculty. Nothing was filled out except 4 words written in big red letters: “I want her here.” He saw some potential there that the others didn’t.

Not only was I accepted, but I was given a scholarship that made it possible for me to spend the next three years as a music major at the University of Miami. I made it into Doc’s touring choir and traveled to Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Greece and Spain. And when I graduated 3 years later I fulfilled my life-long dream of becoming a music teacher.

There was just one problem. Sigh. I hated being a music teacher. There isn’t enough time to go into the stories about THAT, but suffice it to say, it had nothing to do with the kids. Two years later I accepted a graduate assistantship back at UM and started work on my Master’s degree.

This time I became the manager of UM Singers and took on fund raising and tour planning. I made ends meet by conducting the Miami Children’s Choir, working as a choreographer for half the high schools in Dade County, serving as a soloist and youth choir director at a community church, and singing at various synagogues for the High Holidays. Oh, and I became the Director of that choral camp I mentioned earlier.

I think this is when the travel bug really bit me. In the next few years I traveled to Hong Kong, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, England and Belgium. I got to sing in the Sydney Opera House and yes, I even made it to Carnegie Hall. I finished my Master’s Degree in music with a concentration in arts administration.

Immediately following I worked at International Fine Arts College in Miami recruiting students and developing programs that helped double their enrollment.

When I moved to North Carolina as a trailing spouse in October of 1988, it was evident that getting a school or university job at that time of the year was highly unlikely.

I took a job at the Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau to tide me over until I could get a “real” job. But within months I figured out that I could put all of the skills that I learned in music and the arts to work in marketing. I loved it and never turned back.

I accepted a job in 1992 to start a visitor’s bureau in Chapel Hill. Three years later my daughter was born. Exactly four weeks after that, my mom, who had just turned 56 years old, died from breast cancer. I still mourn the fact that Samantha, who is now a freshman at Hendrix College in Conway Arkansas, never got to know her.

I was hired in Durham as part of a succession plan following a stint running the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau in the late 90’s.

When Reyn Bowman subsequently announced his retirement, the board interviewed me and hired me to be their president, a position I’ve held for 4 years now. And after a 20 year friendship, I don’t think too many people were surprised to hear that Reyn and I began to date each other two years ago.

In closing, I want to end by saying how much I love what I do and how much I love Durham. Marketing is every bit as creative as music and I love knowing that what I do helps businesses prosper and helps bring tax revenue to Durham so our community can continue to be a great place to live and work.

I also love my work with Rotary, especially working with students at YE Smith Elementary school. It’s brought me back full circle to become a teacher and I find my time there incredibly fulfilling.

Paul Harris Fellow – Rob Everett

rob_dallasweb014Foundation Chair Dallas Stalling presents Rob Everett a Paul Harris Fellowship Plus 1 at the November 11, 2013 meeting.

Welcome to New Members Inducted November 11, 2013

newmembers3web 005From left to right: Nancy Marks, Honorary Rotarian transferring from Wilmington to the Durham Rotary sponsored by Steed Rollins; Del Mattioli, sponsored by Howard Clement III; and Geoffrey Scott Durham, sponsored by Bill Kalkhof.

Program Report: Veterans Day Tribute – Ted Trieble

presenter16webAs our speaker’s story opens, it sounds like the stuff of Netflix, hyped-up war books or even high-rez video games on the I-Pad Air:

Blasted from the sky by enemy “SAM” anti-aircraft rockets on armed escort for a photo-surveillance plane near Hanoi.

Ejected from a doomed F-4 Phantom fighter jet at 550 miles per hour.

Dangling by parachute heading straight into the bomb-ravaged, war-torn landscape of a bitter and determined enemy, Communist North Vietnam.   This was autumn, 1972.

“I remember looking up through the parachute and having a one-way conversation with God,” said Ted Triebel, downed with his co-pilot on mission number 327, hit on the very day that he was originally not even scheduled to fly.  “I knew this was not going to be a pleasant reception.”

For those old enough to remember, our speaker’s presentation at Veteran’s Day lunch recalled hazardous times for armed service personnel that are now only distant memories on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.  For Ted Triebel, it happened.  The memory remains, he told a near full house of Rotarians, but better lessons endure.

There was nearly a year of captivity at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” months in solitary, interrogations, beatings, and a mock execution within hours of his capture.  He survived.  He got home.  He went on to a sterling career in the Navy with decorations for valor and bravery (he thinks the word “hero” is overused).  He capped his career with stints heading up ROTC at Duke, UNC and NC State, and as head of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Triebel’s message carried an important reminder to be mindful of the sacrifices by veterans on Veterans Day – and he said that he and other vets are enormously grateful for the appreciation.  Yet, the rest of the Triebel story holds for him and others “enduring lessons.” The lessons include still more proof of the human capacity to trump old hatred with new friendship, to forgive, to see that all people love, and aspire to a decent life.  They share common values.  They do move on.

Triebel projected a photograph of him and the former enemy solder who captured him – now warmly embracing him as a friend, smiling a big toothy smile.  The photo was taken during a recent return trip to Vietnam with his co-pilot, Dave Everett.

Early in his captivity, Triebel recalled that he looked back toward Heaven.  He said that he told God he had reconsidered his earlier position in the parachute.  Despite his hardship, he realized that he had, in fact, ejected from the F-4 while it was still hurtling through the air at non-ejectable velocity.  Yet, the ejector seat worked, as did the parachute.  He knew he would survive.  “The good news is sometimes so close to our face that we don’t see it,” Triebel said. “Don’t forget, the good things are close.”

Our thanks to Steed Rollins for introducing a speaker of extraordinary life experience and courage and our thanks to Ted Triebel for a thoughtful reminder on Veterans Day.

(Submitted by Mark Lazenby)

Honoring our own Durham Rotary Club Veterans

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From left to right: Ralph Rogers, Bill Stokes, Bill Lefevre, Bob Yowell, Seth Warner, Wayne Hayes, Ken Lundstrom, Mike Wixted a visiting Honorary Rotarian from Kitty Hawk Rotary Club, Todd Taylor and Craig Reed.

Program Report: North Carolina Agriculture – Dawn Williamson

DawnWilliamsonwebI had the privilege of introducing Dawn Williamson and her program about animal agriculture in North Carolina. Ms. Williamson and her husband run two contract hog farms in Sampson County with a total of about 3000 sows. She also works for Murphy-Brown LLC which is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods that grows the hogs. She oversees environmental projects and compliance. The primary pieces of Murphy-Brown were large private “integrators” until they were acquired by Smithfield. Murphy-Brown owns about 450 farm facilities and contracts with another 1500 independent farmers like Ms. Williamson to provide the live hogs for Smithfield Foods.

As it happens, during my brief public relations career I did a lot of work for Smithfield Foods and Murphy Family Farms around the permitting and construction of the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel North Carolina. This plant is the largest of its kind in the world. It was a coincidence that it was my turn in the rotation of the Communications Committee to provide this report.

That’s both good and bad. Good because I already know something about the industry and bad because it’s a temptation to just reflect my own experience. Almost 20 years ago when I found out I was going to be working on these projects “down east” I thought I was going to have to hold my nose both literally and figuratively. In fact, that wasn’t the case in either sense.

Ms. Williamson prefaced her remarks by showing a picture of a classic 57 Chevrolet and reminding those like me who are nostalgic about old Chevy’s that it doesn’t even compare with the most basic modern car in comfort, reliability and drivability. The point, of course, is that farming has come a long way too with the average farmer providing food for many times the number of people that farmers fed back in the good old days. This is possible because of technology and specialization. Most farms don’t produce a little of this and a little of that anymore but get real efficient at one or two specialties. Has this destroyed the family farm?

No. Each one of those contract farms in the statistics given above are family farms and it usually means that neither the husband nor the wife has to seek outside employment and hog production is a good substitute for farmers moving away from tobacco. The average farm size in North Carolina is relatively small and not big enough to profitably grow commodity crops like corn. In fact, most of the corn used to feed the state’s 16+ million hogs is shipped in by rail.

By far the biggest issue that the industry has dealt with in the last couple of decades has been the issue of pollution from the waste treatment lagoons. Ms. Williamson pointed out that the pork industry is one of the most highly regulated in the state in this regard and you almost have to see one of these in operation to understand why a properly constructed and maintained system posed little risk to either ground water or “non-point” pollution of rivers and streams. Odor is often a more attention grabbing assault on the senses. I heard a social scientist speaking on the topic once who blamed the completion of I-40 to the coast as the source the industry’s environmental troubles. With reasonable commutes possible from both Raleigh and Wilmington a lot of city folks were buying parcels deep in hog country with no awareness of agricultural smells or the lack of zoning.

Animal treatment has also been an issue. Ms. Williamson pointed out that raising the animals inside protects them from predators and weather. Their diets are also carefully managed. Many don’t realize that market hogs go through several stages into spaces that accommodate their size. Animal cruelty is not tolerated because that’s the right thing to do but also because the animals are more healthy in a less stressful environment. As an executive once pointed out to me, a hog’s life in the “good ole days” was short, miserable and brutal but now it’s just short. The average market hog goes to the plant weighing about 235 lbs at about 6 months of age.

Ms. Williamson shared some information about the economic impact of the industry in North Carolina. It now represents about 23% of income at the “farm gate” as well as much more from the businesses that support agriculture. Learn more about North Carolina pork at the Pork Council’s website http://www.ncpork.org/.  The Murphy-Brown website (http://www.murphybrownllc.com) contains much more information about how this important North Carolina crop is produced. If you have about 45 minutes, this site contains a series of 9 excellent videos about how the animals are raised.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report: The Carolina Theatre – Bob Nocek

ProgramCarolinaTheatewebClub member Treat Harvey introduced the program, Bob Nocek, who happens to be her boss at the Carolina Theatre.  Bob is the President and CEO of the non-profit organization that manages the city-owned Carolina Theatre complex.  Under his leadership since arriving in Durham in 2010 the theater has thrived. The annual budget has increased from $2.4 to over $3.5 million in the latest fiscal year.  Bob is especially proud to report that the Carolina Theatre turned a profit this past year for the first time since the economic downturn of 2008.  The number of live performances in the Star Series has increased from 25 to 60.  Gross receipts from film showings have doubled over the last three years.

Bob described the twists and turns in his life and career that brought him to Durham.  He grew up in Pennsylvania.  In college he majored in criminal justice and Spanish, neither of which has he ever used in his career.  While in college he worked at the school radio station covering sports.  He became a real newspaper junkie when he was hired by a Wilkes-Barre newspaper as a sports reporter.  Growing bored after covering the Eagles and NASCAR for eight years, Bob switched to the Arts and Leisure pages.

The big break into theater management came when he was recruited to become program manager of the historic, art deco Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre despite having never booked an entertainment program in his life.  In this new job he was expected to fill the 1800 seats of that venue.  Success at attracting popular star performers led to moving up the management chain, taking him away from the booking that had become his career passion.

At some point Bob was smitten with the idea of moving south.  Maybe Charleston or Savannah.  At the time Durham was “not even on the radar.”  Two convergent forces drew him to Durham.  He saw the exciting things happening in Durham and believed the city had a bright future.  Additionally, the Carolina Theatre presented the intriguing and exciting opportunity to pair film with theater.  The innovation of the new RetroTreasures film series has been a big hit.

Two and a half million dollars in renovations have transformed the 1926 Carolina Theatre into a modern venue including a new state of the art sound system.  One person seated at my lunch table chimed in that he could now understand a film’s dialogue.  Down the road is the full digital conversion in the cinema although Bob says the theater is still committed to film as a medium and will certainly keep the old projectors around.

Carolina Theatre is engaged in serving thousands of area children each year.    With support from several foundations the theater offers an “Arts Discovery Educational Series” for educators and their students at greatly reduced ticket prices.   Productions in this series will appeal to a broad cross-section of K-12 students, including “Charlotte’s Web,” the “African American Dance Ensemble,” and “A Christmas Carol.”

You can learn more about what is happening at the Carolina Theatre by picking up a copy of SHOWtime or visiting the website www.carolinatheatre.org.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg