Posted by Jim Garrett
WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK – January 17, 2019 Meeting Summary
(Back in the writer’s nook: Last week’s third meeting this January was the first of the year for your reporter, and it may take a while to replenish the ink of irreverence customarily flowing in my figurative pen.  Current subjects, enjoy the reprieve!) 
The meeting began with an invocation by Sam Pittmon, from the words of St. Theresa of Calcutta (formerly known more prosaically as simply Mother Theresa, she was canonized September 4, 2016).   Sam chose a passage exhorting positive conduct in the face of negatives (e.g. “If you are honest, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.”)  The passage ended with a statement of values providing the new Saint’s justification for graceful acceptance of such challenges: “For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”
After the Pledge of Allegiance led by Madame President Shellie Peterson, Jessie Formwalt conducted the singing of “You Are My Sunshine,” even sneaking in a bar or two of delicate harmony as the rest of us stumbled through the melody, more or less in tune.  Pretty nice stuff, Jessie!  Next time, why not lead the group in some three-part choral harmony?
Next were guests.  The magnetic Pat Love had a gaggle in tow, but your reporter didn’t catch their names except daughter Kathleen McFadden.
Exchange student Theo Bonlokke than provided the latest update on his diverse adventures, seemingly aimed at sampling every experience available to a young person in Colorado, reporting he attended a stock show in Denver featuring a demonstration of horsemanship, and was then with the Pagosa Pirates Wrestling Team for a successful weekend of meets and tournaments.  In response to questions, Theo allowed that although he had not participated in wrestling previously at home in Denmark, he intends to join a club when he returns.
The more taciturn Cata Acuilera, our exchange student from Chile, reported she had participated in the Pagosa Lady Acqua Pirates’ swim meet at Durango, where she said the local showing improved and everybody had fun.  In addition, Cata said she enjoyed seeing a performance of “Little Women,” at Thingamajig.
Final arrangements for the Larry Olin memorial celebration set for Saturday January 19 (two days after the meeting) were then announced.  This reporter was unable to attend, but understands a mob of Larry’s good friends and acquaintances from Rotary and other groups jammed the PLPOA clubhouse, and honored Larry’s memory by enjoying good food and sharing many fond reminiscences of his memorable life and times. 
Betty Switzer then took the floor with a balky bubble machine (like your reporter, evidently it stiffens up with disuse).
Betty began with this month’s birthdays, announcing first newbie Sandra Houston, then oldies, in Betty’s generous phrase, “old, but not really old, just been here before:” Brian Wetzel, Lassie Olin, Diane Bower, and yours truly.  After donning celebratory head gear, the honorees enjoyed a raucous rendition of “Happy Birthday,” even though Meg Wempe was not present to invest the song with her special élan.
Wedding anniversaries were then announced for Warren and Jodie Brown, and Dave and Jean Smith (52 years and counting).
Membership anniversaries were announced next, for David Cammack (at 26 years, the reigning champ in this group) and Meg Wempe, Cindy Galabota, Bill Hubbard and Sharon Carter, Dave and Kriss Campbell, and finally, Betty herself and husband Jeff.
Betty then turned to Sunshine and Showers, but pickings were slim (post-holiday torpor?  Snow induced ennui?  Lack of sleep?  Bio-rhythms?  An evil spell cast by the government shutdown?  By Donald Trump?  Who knows?)
Dave Richardson did offer two Sunshines: the pleasure of seeing a picture in the Sun of Codie Wilson’s granddaughter pouring in two for the Lady Pirates Roundballers against rival Centauri, and an expression of gratitude to Pat Love for her talk the week before, described by Dave as “outstanding.”
Codie then followed with a Sunshine of her own, reporting that the victory against Centauri was “huge” for her granddaughter and teammates, as their rival had been ranked ahead of the Lady Pirates before being walloped by the locals in their recent matchup.
President Shellie then turned to the introduction of our speaker.  It’s surprisingly hard, Shellie began, to devise a meeting program every week with capacity to entertain and inform for an hour.  And even after plans have been well laid, there is a risk that a speaker might cancel, exactly as had just happened, she lamented.  When that is the way the cookie crumbles, you need a pinch-hitter, but right now, most of the good ones are getting ready to attend Spring Training and resume the pursuit of millions.  Fortunately, Shellie knew exactly what to do in the hour of need: get out Rotary’s Swiss Army knife, David Smith.
Speaker: David Smith, on the Topics of the Day
David filled in by discussing two topics of community interest: the Middle School Science Fair, and the publicly supported project to provide a new facility for early childhood education.  He began by explaining he’d been asked to talk just two hours earlier, so he was probably just well enough prepared to make a fool of himself.  But if that was his horizon, it seemed in truth he sailed well beyond it, like Dorothy’s bluebird over the rainbow.
This year’s edition of the Science Fair, David told us, had been competed the day before.  The annual event is a voluntary part of the Middle School’s science curriculum in which 15 students chose to participate this school year.  The Fair program runs 10 weeks, and challenges sixth through eighth graders to explore a “testable” (what was that word? Betty called out, but maybe you had to be there to fully appreciate the nuances of the moment) hypothesis.  A simple example, David illustrated could be, “The sun will rise in the east.”  Prizes are awarded by a panel of volunteer judges for the best demonstrations, and winners advance to a Regional competition. 
David has helped students develop and demonstrate their testable hypotheses during the programs conducted for a period of several years.  It’s been very satisfying and enjoyable, he reported, to watch the students’ progress from year to year.
Several other Rotarians have also contributed to the Science Fairs, including Dave Richardson, Lisa Scott and Larry McClintock.  Lisa recalled that not all hypotheses tested are arcane, dry technical matters.  For example, she described one student’s “Cupcake test,” designed to prove boys are more impulsive than girls by evaluating how long subjects can defer eating a treat.  But Dave R. added that he has been rewarded by participation, from watching the kids learn science, which is “important to mankind because that is how progress is made.”
David’s other topic was the Early Childhood Education project supported by funding from Archuleta County and the Town of Pagosa Springs, currently devoted to developing a facility intended to begin operation next school year and to provide early childhood positions for 40-45 children under the umbrella of the non-profit Archuleta County Education Center.
According to a recent finding by the State of Colorado, David said, Archuleta County was one of six “desert” areas of Colorado found to be extremely short of services for pre-school children.  A workgroup formed by the local governments in early 2016 assessed the issue by tallying available resources and evaluating the level of need, concluding that the community had a shortage of 300 additional early childhood education slots, especially for the 0-3 yr. age group. 
The new facility, to be based in an abandoned commercial building currently undergoing extensive remodeling, formerly the site off Piedra Road of the Greenhouse Restaurant, will begin to address the need.  While it is not a complete answer, David reported that efforts to establish new services by other means were unsuccessful, and a decision was made to start by doing what was possible.
Remodeling costs approximate $500,000.  In addition to the Town and County, funding has been provided from foundation grants and donations.
David reported that research based on tracking the performance over later life of individuals served by early childhood education, compared to those not served, has demonstrated that on average, the community saves $200,000 in lifetime costs of maladjustment including incarcerations and un-employment for each individual served. 
The new facility will have three classrooms, he said, two for toddlers 1-3, and one for pre-kindergarten.  The costs of attendance will be covered by tuition.  There is hope for some form of tuition assistance from the local governments, but currently, no commitments have been made.