Flashback: Cynthia Hill

In Saturday’s Herald-Sun there was an article about the creators of “A Chef’s Life” food show on PBS turning “their lens to Durham’s Food Scene.” Some may remember that the primary creator of  that show was Cynthia Hill, who spoke about it to the Club back in 2015.  Ms. Hill lives here in Durham.

You can revisit that program by clicking here or use the search box and search her name. The documentary, which is less than a half hour long, is streaming on PBS  here.


Program Report: Rotary Experiences

Monday’s meeting about the “Rotary experience” was a smorgasbord of Rotarians’ activities and opportunities.  The takeaway was the many ways Rotarians become engaged as individuals in their communities and globally.

One of the most important ways Rotarians can contribute is by becoming a Paul Harris Fellow.  Financial contributions to this program have enabled the Rotary Foundation to spend more than three billion dollars on life-changing, sustainable projects.  Club Foundation chair Andy Esser loves to brag that the Rotary Foundation is among the most responsible and efficient charitable organizations in the world.  Andy presented Paul Harris Fellow awards to four club members: Geri Lail, Reggie Hodges (+2), Emilee Collins (+3) and Barker French (+5).

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Program Report: Anita Earls – Voting Rights

Less than 7 weeks before election day, we have a timely presentation from one of the candidates. Anita Earls is a lawyer currently running for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court. She is a Yale Law School graduate who for over thirty years has been an advocate for civil rights, voting rights, families and fair political processes. Ms. Earls was introduced by Judge Nancy Gordon.

Ms. Earls is the founder and Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S Department of Justice in the Clinton administration, the Director of the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a civil rights attorney at North Carolina’s first integrated law firm, Ferguson, Stein, Wallas, Adkins, Gresham & Sumter in Charlotte.

Ms. Earls topic on Monday was voting rights, a topic that has put North Carolina in the news a lot in recent years. With control of the General Assembly during the last redistricting, Republicans made the state one of the most drastic examples of gerrymandering in the country. In statewide elections Democrats and Republicans are split almost 50/50. Yet of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts, only 3 are held by Democrats.  Those three districts also have the three highest CPVI, which stands for Cook Partisan Voting Index, which means essentially that the last redistricting packed as many Democrats into those three districts as they could.

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New Member: Jason Hall

Please introduce yourself to our new member Jason Hall and welcome him to  the club. The bio information below is from the Cherry Bekaert, accounting firm, one of the largest in the Southeast. Jason is  in their Durham office. Jason was sponsored by another accountant, Steve Hancock.

As a Tax Partner in Cherry Bekaert’s Durham practice, Jason provides tax consulting and compliance services to partnerships, corporations, and high-net-worth individuals. Jason is experienced in many industries and focuses on real estate, healthcare, and venture capital. He uses his tax expertise to advise clients regarding complex transactions, accounting methods, and tax minimization. He also serves as a member of THInc, the Firm’s specialty practice that caters to the innovative needs of the Technology, Health & Life Sciences and Industrial sectors.

With more than 15 years of public accounting experience, Jason has extensive knowledge of large partnership and corporation tax law, including basis planning and debt restructuring. His experience also extends to working at Big Four firms for a combined nine years. Prior to joining Cherry Bekaert, Jason served as a tax director at a national CPA firm in Raleigh.

Pictured are Jenny Levine of the Membership Committee, who inducted Jason, Steve Hancock, Jason Hall and President Brady Surles.


Program Report: Bryan Poole – Ride Sharing in Durham

Menu of City Transportation Services Is Expanding, Planner Says

If you’ve seen more bike sharing in Durham, you get an A for paying attention.

As City Planner Bryan Poole explained to a full house at Monday’s lunch, Durham has become home to about 500 bikes available for check out and rent by smartphone app and other means for residents without apps or credit cards. Since the program was launched less than a year ago as a private-sector initiative, the city has recorded about 60,000 rides with an existing average of about 2,000 users each month.

With feasibility studies funded by state and federal grants, and census data in hand, city officials have worked to make the bikes available across all census tracts and neighborhoods, York said, with social and neighborhood equity embedded in the distribution plan.

“There are lots of surprising places they ride,” he said. “People are really using them.”

The private sector companies providing the equipment and logistics are not making a lot of money at this stage, Poole said. Rather, they view dock-less biking in Durham as an entry point to help the city provide more options in a growing space known as “the world of shared mobility.”

The next step will be to focus on providing electric scooters, which is still in study, permitting and review, but could result in available scooters by the autumn.

“Safety is one of the biggest concerns we have in the department,” Poole said. Typical issues around the legal definition of scooters, liability in the event of accidents, and refining the location of parking zones in hot spots are still being worked out, he said.

Poole was introduced by Rotarian Emily Egge. We thank Poole for the update and look forward to another visit as the program progresses.

(Submitted by Mark Lazenby)

New Member: Yvette West

New member Yvette West is surrounded by her sponsor Assistant District Governor Susan Ross, Vice President and Membership Committee member Erik Benson and President Brady Surles. Please introduce yourself and welcome Ms. West into the Club. Below is some information about her background.

Ms.West graduated from LSU with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing — and a few years later, received a Master in Science in Nursing in Geriatrics from Cal State.

She spent the majority of her nursing career in Perioperative Services, and then moving into Geriatric Nursing Education for the last 5 years.  Yvette retired from Duke Hospital in 2013.

After retirement, she became an amateur contractor while working with her general contractor to renovate a downtown building for residential and commercial use. In May 2016, Yvette opened Bulldega Urban Market, the only Downtown Durham Grocery Store, which is growing each month.  Bulldega Urban Market is preparing to move into One City Center in early October.

Ms. West was asked to give a Rotary Minute as well as introduce herself. She used the theme of service and described a trip to Africa to use her nursing skills to help deliver babies and in the process establishing practices there that impacted the infant mortality rate…i.e. saved a lot of babies lives and the agony of losing a child.