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9.19.19 – SPOKES Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Tom Mathison

The Rotary Club of Downtown Grand Rapids gathered at noon at the University Club for its regular meeting. President Neil Marchand called this meeting to order at noon by welcoming everyone and announcing the line-up of events and future speakers for the Club:

Sept. 26:             Michael Van Denend, Executive Director, World Affairs Council of Western Michigan @ University Club

Oct. 3:                  Club 77 hosted by Ken Bair @ One Bourbon and Bridge Street Market

Oct 10:                 Dr. Hyung T. Kim, President & CEO, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s @ University Club

Chelsea called upon Kevin Paul to lead us in song today, “God Bless America”, followed by today’s invocation by Gerilyn May.

Following lunch, President Neil invited Heather Duffy to introduce guests and visiting Rotarians. Neil then invited STRIVE Co-Chair Paul Jastifer to update the Club on the need for more STRIVE mentors, particularly women.  The program starts next week, so the need is now!

Then Nick Farr gave the Club an update on activities by the Community Engagement Committee, including a recap of the very successful Mayor’s River Clean-up last weekend, where our Club was a sponsor.  Over 80 Rotarians, from three clubs, helped with this great work!

Doris Drain came to the podium to introduce our speaker today, Kenny Wawsczyk, the Regional Trail Coordinator for the North County Trail Association, who is located in the Lowell, Michigan office.

The North Country Trail (NCT) is the longest of the 11 national trails in the U.S., stretching 4,600 miles from Vermont to North Dakota.  The longest portion of the trail winds its way through Michigan.  The goal of the NCTA is to build a sustainable trail and to build new sections of the trail until it is continuous (currently it is 73% complete).  In 2018, 51 miles of new trail were built, including 3,319 feet of new boardwalk.

There are twelve chapters of NCTA in Michigan who work with volunteers to accomplish the work.  Kent County is part of the West Michigan Chapter.  Funding for the work is 40% government funded, and 60% privately funded.

Kenny encouraged everyone to participate in the Hike 100 Challenge, where individuals can earn a patch after hiking 100 miles on the trail.  Over 6,000 participants have entered the challenge and 2,659 have completed the challenge!

Kenny’s presentation was followed by warm applause and a number of questions from the audience.

Neil reiterated the upcoming Rotary events and rang the Rotary bell to adjourn the meeting.

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