Posted by Jim Garrett
The weekly meeting convened for the first time at Pagosa Brewing & Grill, which provided comfortable space in its main dining room.  While future meetings may be moved into the restaurant’s conference room, undergoing renovation at the time of the meeting, our new hosts made Rotary feel right at home.
The meeting opened with an invocation delivered by Art Benzel, in observance of the arrival of Spring, from the writings of inspirational author Doe Zantamata:
 "Some days are better, some days are worse, look for the blessing instead of the curse.  Be positive, stay strong and get enough rest, you can’t do it all, but you can do your best".
Perhaps also thinking of Spring and the opportunities it brings for walks in Pagosa’s forests and mountains, Sharon Crump then followed by leading the meeting in the singing of “The Happy Wanderer.”  Sharon thoughtfully supplied copies of the joyous lyrics, to help those who have forgotten the days of summer camp and campfire sing-alongs.
With the inspiration of the song ringing in our ears, Sharon might easily have led the meeting into the woods for a brisk walk, but the moment passed without an exodus. Rotarians were rewarded then for their diligent adherence to their seats by a brief report from President Kim Moore on her two weeks in Senegal.  (Dave Smith remains in Africa spreading the gospel of science for two more weeks.)
Kim reported that the sub-Saharan country has “lots of sand, lots of goats and baobab trees.”  According to the website Aduna,, the baoba is a prehistoric species which predates both mankind and the splitting of the continents over 200 million years ago. Native to the African savannah where the climate is extremely dry and arid, it is a symbol of life and positivity in a landscape where little else can thrive.  Over time, the Baobab has adapted to its environment. It is a succulent, which means that during the rainy season it absorbs and stores water in its vast trunk, enabling it to produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season when all around is dry and arid. This is how it became known as "The Tree of Life".  Baobab trees grow in 32 African countries. They can live for up to 5,000 years, reach up to 30 metres high and up to an enormous 50 metres in circumference. Baobab trees can provide shelter, food and water for animals and humans, which is why many savannah communities have made their homes near Baobab trees.
Kim described the high schools she visited to attend English language classes as crowded, but staffed by wonderful, well-educated and dedicated teachers, and attended by “fabulous” students, more than half of whom, she reported, hope to attend university after graduating.
Kim also commented that Senegalese women were beautifully and colorfully dressed, promising at a later meeting to show off an addition to her own wardrobe acquired during her trip as an example.   And, she reported that Senegal was a land of “hugs and kisses,” as the French-speaking population follows the European custom of exchanging greetings with an embrace and a kiss on each cheek.
Shellie Petersen followed with an announcement that 9Health Fair is in need of volunteers.  The medical screening event will be staged this year at Pagosa Springs High School on April 29, 7 to 11 am, and will offer a choice of 15 tests important for early detection of various diseases and health issues.  The website for more information is  Please call Shellie or Jenelle to volunteer!
A call for nominees of local eighth to eleventh grade students to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Conference was then issued by Roberta Tolan.  Anyone who knows of a student in that range with good leadership potential, should nominate the candidate by March 30, she said.
Exchange student Laura Delgado then reported that she would be appearing in the High School spring play, and invited Rotarians to attend.  She also reported that fund raising for her trip to Hawaii still had a little ways to go, but her departure plans were set.
Betty Switzer then briefly donned an Easter Bunny mask to announce a long list of March birthdays.  But the mask was promptly removed because, Betty explained, to see through the eyeholes she needed to tilt her head downward, producing an unsightly “double chin,” or so she claimed.  Observers defended the mask, but Betty promptly overrode all objections and proceeded to announce the month’s honorees.  Only Betty’s own Jeff Switzer and Kris Campbell were present to accept the meeting’s accolades, and be serenaded with a rousing “Happy Birthday.”  Kris was also heard to ask, where are the presents? 
Betty then transitioned to “Sunshine and Showers,” producing many tidbits of information ranging from a warning against American Airlines’ offering in event of aircraft mechanical problems of a voucher for a night’s stay in the Quality Inn of Arlington, Texas, to Kim’s display of a “Rotary Banner,” presented to her in St. Louis, Senegal by the local Rotary Club which hosted the visit by their American colleagues.
But the most interesting bit was from Art Benzel, who reported that his wife had been selected to serve on a jury in a local homicide case, that had to be tried in Durango due to the ongoing and unresolved problems of the Archuleta County Courthouse.  Art reported that with the travel time to get to Durango daily, his wife had devoted 9 days of 12 hours each to her jury service, with deliberations on a verdict not then yet completed.