Page Stories

At the noon hour on Feb 27, Past President David Dominick opened the meeting. He began by thanking the meeting volunteers: Greeters Melissa Musliner and Michael-jon Pease, scribe Valdi Stefanson, and visiting Rotarians/guests/happy dollars Bo Aylin. Also, a special Thank-You to the technical team of Andrew Vincelli, and Ken Crabb.

Susan Schuster provided the inspirational minute, which referenced current conflicts in the Ukraine and Gaza. How can this be reconciled with Rotary’s Positive Peace mission? She started with a reference to Mother Teresa, who always began with a smile as an empowerment tool to participate and find peace through personal inspiration. Also, quoting John Lennon --- “We can all be dreamers”.

Next up were introductions of three new members:

Andrew Webster is the owner of Master Framers in Lowertown (Recall that Roger Nielsen was the previous owner.) Andrew continues the tradition of framing, restoration and guilding.

Heather Britt is Executive Director of Wilder Research at the Wilder Foundation. Heather’s role is to better understand community and community change over time in order to steward program evaluation of Wilder Foundation activities, and impact ongoing Wilder programming.

Ann Rodenberg is the Director of Individual Giving at Wilder Foundation. She leads efforts to engage individual donors whose charitable support enhances the well-being of families, children and seniors.

Michael-jon Pease introduced today’s speaker, our own member Dr. Ellen Kennedy. She recognized that February is Rotary’s Peace-building and Conflict Prevention Month. Her Pathways to Peace message was punctuated by the presence of a Minnesotan Rotary Peace Scholar.

Ellen’s message spoke of the long tradition of peace missioned by Rotary International, starting back in 1921. Then partnering with UNESCO peace programs, and all the way to a pivotal role in the formation of the United Nations. There’s a ROTARY DAY at the United Nations. Rotary is committed to Positive Peace – to create and sustain peaceful societies. One way is through Global Grants that include the seven Areas of Focus. The Rotary Foundation states “Everything we do promotes peace”.

But today we learn more about Rotary Peace Fellowships and Peace Fellows. Going all in, Rotary has established five Master’s programs and two Certificate Programs in universities in continents throughout the globe.

Rotary provides a full ride to these recipients who are young adults and non-Rotarian. A rigorous vetting protocol brings some 50 candidates forward each year. We can be proud to recognize seven recent Minnesota Peace Fellows.

Ellen then introduced Guled Ibrahim. Guled enthusiastically described the value of his Rotary Peace Fellowship at University of Queensland in Australia. His thesis project was a stint at the United Nations in New York. He got a full-access and in-depth experience there – a lifelong dream come true. Today, Guled is an attorney at the Minneapolis Dept of Civil Rights. He is also on the board of World Without Genocide.


NEXT UP: Details at our website:

· 5:01 Meeting: March 5th 5:01 PM - 6:15 PM

Universal Design, Aging in your Home


· Lunch Meeting: March 12 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Purpose Elevates with Mick White


· Mar. 21, 2024

Rotary Night Out at the History Theatre: A Unique Assignment


· March 23, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

· May 10, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Volunteer Opportunities at the Science Museum of MN


Respectfully submitted,

Valdi Stefanson

Rotary Club of Saint Paul

February 20, 2024

President Heidi Fisher called the hybrid meeting to order at 5:15 pm. Lynne Beck was scribe. The greeter was Joy McElroy. The A/V Teach Team was Matt Magers.

Heidi Fischer led the Club in the Pledge of Allegiance.

For the Inspirational Minute, Shelly Rucks talked about the upcoming 2024 Rotary International Convention in Singapore and the 8 colors of peace and led the Club in the 4-Way Test.

Ken Crabb introduced two new members, Tony Conn and Mark Howlett. Tony has a distinguished history of work and non-profit involvement. Mark is the Global Portfolio Director at 3M and Board Chair of Park Square Theatre.

Ellen Kennedy introduced Michael Olesen, one of our newest members. His topic was A Love Story and a Dream in Northern Guatemala. Michael is a retired registered nurse, spanning many decades of work in critical care and the healthcare industry. He has spent time in third world economies and providing education to healthcare professionals, primarily in the field of organ transplantation.

Hearts in Action is a non-profit organization founded by Mario and Suzanne Babarczy in 1993. Located in northern Guatemala, the organization’s goal is to interrupt the cycle of poverty through education and job creation. Residents of this part of the country have an illiteracy rate of 90% and an average income of $4,500 per year. With funds from grants and other sources, the couple bought 300 acres of land in the Peten, the poorest department of Guatemala, and built a school in 1996. Over 5,000 students have attended the Jungle School and the literacy rate has been reduced by 90%. Also, youth crime has decreased, 57,000 trees planted to replace those cut down, and one million meals provided. The school provides values-based education and vocational training for youth of all ages.

Hearts in Action has transitioned into developing enterprises and created 105 jobs in 2023. A recent enterprise is Itza Wood, a woodworking company. Local workers are trained to create quality wood products to sell. The company has 30 employees who are able to stay in the area and support their families. They currently need to raise $20,000 to upgrade the woodshop. St. Paul Rotary awarded them a $2,500 grant and they raised another $2,500 through a GoFundMe campaign.

Shelly Rucks asked for Happy Dollars. Amanda Mai, a local actor, is sad that the Old Log Theater is closing after 84 years. Joy McElroy is going on a mission trip to Guatemala in April.


Heidi Fisher made the following Club announcements:

February 21, 2024

Celebrating Students of the Month

Gordon Parks - 8:30 am


February 21, 2024

Feed My Starving Children

Eagan - 7:00–8:45 pm


Signature Lunch: February 27, 2024

Ellen Kennedy and Guled Ibrahim - Peace Fellowship

InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront or online via zoom - 12:15–1:15 pm


April 9, 2024

Rotation Day - Regions Hospital


April 16, 2024

Annual Rotary Community Forum

Fort Snelling Basecamp - 5:00–7:00 pm


April 19-23, 2024



May 10, 2024

Science Museum Service Project

Science Museum of Minnesota - 10:00 am–2:00 pm


The meeting was adjourned at 6:22 pm.


Lynne Beck


At 12:16 pm on February 13th, Heidi Fisher, the President, called the meeting to order at the Intercontinental Hotel. Heidi led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and thanked the volunteers helping at the meeting, John Kupris was the greeter, Ken Crabb for introducing guests, Michael-jon Pease for the Inspirational Minute and Four Way Test, our amazing tech team, the scribe, Linda Mulhern, and our club administrator Amanda Mai.

After his trip to Hawaii, Michael-jon used various Hawaiian words that reflected the Rotary Four Way test including Mahalo, which means to live in thankfulness for the abundant blessings in life, along other words that with meanings of stewardship and integrity.

Nancy Brady was asked to talk about herself as well as to let us know what we do not know about her. She is planning on retiring on 5/31and is actively looking for a successor for Neighborhood House. She will be traveling to Switzerland in March for skiing and a trip in August to Norway. She is active with the Montessori Board of Minnesota and how to help various communities incorporate this type of learning into their schools.

Ken Schaefer introduced our speaker, Dr Susan Brower, the state demographer. She talks with legislators, business owners and non-profit organizations around the state about the state demography. She noted that the metro area, in particular, Ramsey and Hennepin counties have grown substantially within the urban core over the last 10 years. Normally growth is seen on the edges of a large metropolitan area, but the core cities have seen tremendous growth. St Paul has added 26,00 people. They did find that during the pandemic and afterwards, the migration has been outbound however.

The change in labor is now a challenge for employers. People are aging, particularly the Baby Boomers (1946-64) are retiring and the adult working population is not keeping up. It used to be that 70,000 people would retire annually, now it is up to 250,000. This will create work force shortages and added stress for the health care system. From the 1970s forward there was growth in working age adults, but now there is no growth in the work force numbers. Currently there are 200,000 open jobs and there will be an ongoing labor shortage. Employers will need to take greater risks to employ people. They will need to look at skill sets to help people transfer to new job possibilities offered by employers. It should be noted that not all of the 200,000 jobs available are good jobs. Often, they are in retail, food service and health care support. As a state, Minnesota has the highest work force participation within the country.

Migration to Minnesota does not work except for international moves. Any migration within the United States is toward the coasts or larger cities rather than the Midwest, so other states in the area are also facing the same problems with labor shortages. Dr Brower has talked to the Minnesota Emergency Management Force and has told them to look at flexibility with workers, but it is difficult to recruit people that are needed for longer shifts, so a new mindset must be looked at for recruitment. Currently 3 million people work in the state with approximately 1 million school age children and 1 million retired/non-working adults. The other metro areas within Minnesota are all growing except for Duluth. Trying to recruit older adults to continue to working is difficult and most will stop working at age 65. Currently only 10% will continue working into their 70s and 80s. Migrants are mostly young adults that are here to go to school or recently finished their schooling and older adults often stay here rather than moving to other states with lower tax rates.

Heidi gave Dr Brower a certificate with a donation going to Cherish all Children.

Ken received several happy dollars including Doug Hartford, who has pictures at two locations, John Guthmann’s daughter has had an article published and has been invited to work on a Smithsonian article, Al Zdrazil receive very good health care in New Zealand when suffering from a heart attack and was charged only $12,000 for his health care. Ellen Kennedy wanted to everyone to know that February is Rotary Peace Month and would like to have everyone attend the Museum of Russian Art on Monday, February 19th from 6-8 pm to write letters in English to prisoners in Russia. The letters will be translated and sent to them to lift their spirits.

Ken Crabb won the “Rotary fast fact” as to the first donation to the Rotary Foundation in 1917 was $26.00 (the actual donation was $26.50). Please consider a donation to the Foundation!

Upcoming meetings include the meeting with club #9 in Minneapolis on Friday, 2/16. Please call Heidi if you would like to attend and need a ride. The 5:01 meeting on 2/20 will feature Michael Olesen and his work in Central America. On 2/21, there will be a service project at Gordon Parks school to recognize students of the month and that evening, there will be a Feed my Starving Children packing event with Rotaract. Please consider attending the service events on 2/21. The Rotary community Forum will be on Thursday, 4/16 at the Boy Scouts Base Camp from 5-7 pm called Minding the Gap: Constructive Conversations in a polarized world.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:17 pm.

Linda Mulhern

President Heidi Fisher called our February 6th 501 meeting to order with twenty-eight happy Rotarians and guests.  She shared the exciting news about being Minneapolis being chosen as the 2029 site for the International Convention.  Sherry Howe shared an inspirational moment from F. Scott Fitzgerald and led the group with the 4-Way Test.

Dick Nicholson introduced guests and visiting Rotarians plus did a great job introducing his son-in-law Mark Taylor our 501 speaker.  Mark is a talented writer shared the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life growing up in Saint Paul.  A very interesting program.

Dick Nicholson is the master collector of Happy Dollars taking funds from many happy Rotarians.  President Heidi shared a Rotary Fast Fact on the upcoming 2029 International Convention.

Upcoming events and service projects were shared.  A shout out to John Chandler and Karin Ciano for jumping the river raising funds for our Club’s Foundation.

It was a great 501 meeting.

Dave Dominick, Scribe.

Rotary Minutes Jan. 29, 2024

It was Royal Family Day at Rotary today! President Heidi Fisher opened the meeting at 12:15. Greeters were Shari Howe and Christian Weinhagen. John Bennett did the visiting ROTAIANS and Guests. Linda Mulhearn introduced her guest as Sophia, our foreign exchange student. Sophia is a star Basketball player at Highland High School. Sandy Pappas was a guest of Rotarians also. Jason Bradshaw did the Inspirational minute and 4 way Test. The Tech team today was Matt Majors and Noble Orji. Ken Crabb introduced us to our New Member: Helen Wagner. Helen served at 3M for 40 years! Her special areas of interested are children and the Arts.

Then Jay Phaender introduce the new Prime Minister of the carnival: Dani Ross, who then introduced the Royal Family of 2024. They Royal Family entered with a flourish!

King Boreas LXXXVII: Stephen Doody of South St. Paul, sponsored by Edward Jones

Aurora, Queen of Snows: Jennifer Westerhaus of Chaska, sponsored by All Inc.

Prime Minister: Dani Ross of St. Paul’s East Side, sponsored by Fury Motors

Titan, Prince of the North Wind: Eddy Wiegert, sponsored by Minnesota Navy League

North Wind Princess: Katy Jo Johnson, sponsored by Long’s Auto Place

Euros, Prince of the East Wind: Ron Mikolai, sponsored by Dungarvin and Ron Mikolai Home Team with Keller Williams Premier Realty

East Wind Princess: Michelle Boris of St. Paul, sponsored by Bungalow Inn of Lakeland

Zephyrus, Prince of the West Wind: John Omodt, sponsored by Kelly Bros. Vosson Plumbing,TC Brick

West Wind Princess: Amy Lyn Johnson of St. Paul, sponsored by Remax Results — Greg Kuntz

Notos, Prince of the South Wind: Jamie Rued, spons Inver Grove Ford and Bennett’s Chop & Railhouse

South Wind Princess: Madalyn McGarry, sponsored by LCS Co.

Captain of the Guard: Greg DeKeuster of Roseville, sponsored by LCS Co.

Sergeant of the Guard: Mark Friend of Ham Lake, sponsored by Wabasha Street Cave

King’s Guard: Kevin DeKeuster of Inver Grove Heights, sponsored by NPF Benefits and Mama T’s Castle

King’s Guard: Tyler Lowthian of Bloomington, sponsored by 90 Degree Benefits

King’s Guard: David Szulim of Oakdale, sponsored by Eagle Ridge Partners

Then Sophia and Heidi were knighted by the King. Sophia was given the title “Duchess of Dunk” and Heidi was the “Lady of Grace”.

The Rotary question was: when was the First Paul Harris Fellow? It was 1957.

Next up is the Polar Plunge on Saturday Feb. 3. All proceeds go to the Youth of Hudson.

Laurie Murphy, Scribe

Scribe’s Report - Rotary Club 10

January 23, 2024

The January 23, 2024 Rotary Club 10 Assembly meeting was called to order by President Heidi Fisher at 12:15 pm. Volunteers were recognized for their help – Bob Cardinal and John Kupris as greeters, Matt Magers and Andrew Vincelli on technology, Brianna Haglin for providing a Wonka-themed inspirational minute and reminding everyone to sign up to volunteer for meetings, Tamara Sparrow for introducing visiting Rotarians and Guests, and Amanda Mai for her work as the club administrator.

Visiting Rotarian Ludmila Pawlowska joined us for a flag exchange and shared she was in town for the opening of her exhibition Icons in Transformation that will be showing for two months at Augustana Luthern Church. (1400 South Robert Street, West St. Paul, MN 55118). She is visiting from Sweden and has visited 100 rotary clubs on her tour of the United States. Ludmila and Linda Mulhern had a spirited conversation in Swedish, It turns our Ludmila’s home town in Sweden is where Linda did her Rotary exchange!

Ludmila brought a guest, Pastor Jason Bryan-Wegner, Senior Pastor of Augustana. Jason introduced himself and invited the club to visit the exhibition.

Michael Olesen was introduced as a new club member. Michael is married to Laurie for 43 years and has two adult children. Michael is a retired nurse, whose career included many years working on heart transplants and later as a consultant for Baxter. He is a woodworker and has been involved in the Guatemalan wood working shop project. Welcome Michael!

Amanda Mai, club administrator, led a brief session how to use Club Runner on your computer and how to setup the app on your phone. She walked through key features and how to update your information. Thank you Amanda!

Ken Crabb and Karin Ciano led a session on service projects. They provided a brief overview of recent projects, including: Cleveland Circle, Women Build, Wilder Research Homelessness study, YWCA Tree Lot, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. They also shared upcoming opportunities and encouraged club members to sign up. These include: Winter carnival warming tent, Hygiene Kits, Science Museum of Minnesota, and Cleveland Circle. There is an interest in doing more things, maybe even some larger projects (some clubs take on things like park infrastructure, for example), please let them know if you have some ideas. One plus of the current planned activities is that they are pretty easy to sign up and do. Thank you Ken and Karin.

Shelly Rucks led a session on what is going well and what the club should be focused on in the coming year.

Prompt One: Things that have gone well

  • Dayle Quigley Thank you Karin and Ken for taking on service. It is one of the things that was missing a few years ago. Having short, quick volunteer opportunities is fabulous for us to be doing. Will be attractive to younger members.
  • Dana Bruce - Has been fun to do service projects and get hands on. Made pitch for joining Old Fashioned club
  • Steve Young. We used to recognize people that showed up for the work they are doing. What is going on now is a great service.

Shelly shared a prompt about Fellowship

  • Ken Crab – have held fellowship day in summer, involved golf and tennis or bicycle riding, would like to see happen again.
  • Would like to see social events four times per year, used to do a valentine’s party, or a picnic in como park. Would like to see on a regular basis.
  • Steve Young – somebody has to be in charge, there has to be a to-do list. Maybe don’t set our expectations too high, maybe set two things and get people to do them.
  • Dayle Quigley – Can we do a social at Can Can Wonderland?

Shelly shared a final prompt – what it is about program that encourages people to come on a Tuesday? Anything that discourages?

  • Brianna – Thank you Shelly for all the work on confirming our location, resolved parking issue, improved food. Come for comradery, reassures me about the future, comes for the people and service to community. Good food helps.
  • Shelly, shout out to Heidi and Bo as well for their work meeting with Intercontinental.
  • Susan Rostkoski is on a roll for speakers, quality of speakers has been great.
  • Susan and Jay, hat’s off for recruiting speakers.
  • “New Member Mark” – really likes the 5:01’s at the University Club, appreciates the legacy.
  • Susan - you all don’t see the folks behind the scene to help with recruiting speakers
  • Dana Bruce – likes the different kinds of meetings, lunch meetings, 5:01’s, etc. Gets social program in.
  • Susan Schuster - asked about Securian, Ecolab, Travelers staff – none in room. There is an opportunity to get members from these places.
  • Matt Magers fundraising, can we learn about what they do in prior lake, they have a huge concert. Perhaps, doing something with Saints.
  • Brianna – The Taste of Minnesota partners with big employers. Perhaps do a wine tasting event?
  • Steve Young – if we had a leadership group meeting with St. Paul Foundation, Bush Foundation – Ask Dr. Jolly, what are the top four things they see as needs in the community.
  • Steve Young – we have a new city council, many people are not optimistic about what the group is going to do. Invite all six new members to hear from them their vision for the city, offer to be a partner.
  • Dayle Quigley New Richmond does a Best Burger of New Richmond fundraiser. Sells $100 card that gives you up to ten free burgers at ten different bars restaurants. Scott would be willing to work with this group

Shelly Rucks asked that we all hold onto ideas related to her final question as we are out of time. How do you want to help this year?

Tamara Sparrow led off Happy Dollars with a pitch for the Goth Ball at Landmark Jewelers scheduled for February 9.

- Scott Arndt – for stepson and wife (from Korea), wife just received Green Card

- Karin Ciano Husband and I returned from Mexico trip to see Monarch butterflies

- Shelly Rucks – Tuesday, February 20, 5:01 meeting at University Club to discuss fundraising ideas.

- Linda Mulhern – Connection to Ludmila the visiting Rotarian!

- Ken Crabb, son was married in Puerta Vallarta!


Upcoming events

- January 30 – Winter Carnival meeting, Intercontinental

- February 3 – polar plunge fundraiser on St. Croix

- February 16 – joint meeting with Minneapolis

- February 19 – Rotary awareness day at the capitol.


Scribe: Chad Roberts

Rotary Minutes of January 16, 2024

President Heidi Fisher called the regular 5:01 Meeting in the University Club to order at 5:20, announcing that today was appropriately the "National Day for Racial Healing".  She then led the Club in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and thanked Patrick Brault for greeting and Matt Magers for taking care of our AV needs today.

Brianna Haglin filled an inspirational minute by reading the poem "Winter is the Warmest Season" by Laura Purdie Salas.

Susan Schuster determined that we had no guests or visiting Rotarians today.  She then collected Happy Dollars from many in the audience.

Jim Hart introduced our speaker, Keith Baker.  It was a personal introduction, because both Keith and Jim attended and played basketball at Duluth Central High School where Jim's father was a faculty member.  Keith spent 18 years of his professional career working for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.  Since 2019, Keith has been Executive Director of Reconnect Rondo.

Keith Baker started his presentation by asking the Rotary trivia question of the day - "In what year did the Rotary Club of St. Paul first admit women?"  The answer is 1987 when Keith's mother Lurline Baker-Kent and another woman became members of Club 10.  This is part of a distinguished (and ongoing) career which includes many firsts for women and African American women.

Keith Baker summarized his career before Reconnect Rondo which encompassed a variety of responsibilities in many areas working for the United Way and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Keith Baker said the idea behind Reconnect Rondo is big and involves building a community land bridge over Interstate 94 between Chatsworth Street and Grotto Street to “repair, restore and revitalize Rondo” and “create Minnesota’s first African American cultural enterprise district”.  In the 1950’s, 80% of African Americans in St. Paul lived in the Rondo neighborhood.  The historic Rondo neighborhood extended from Selby to University Avenues between Lexington Avenue and Rice Street.  The proposed African American Cultural Enterprise District is entirely within this area, extending from the alley north of Marshall Avenue to the alley north of Fuller Avenue between Lexington Avenue and Dale Street.  The Rondo neighborhood was “devastated” between 1956 and 1968 by the construction of Interstate 94.  Keith noted that the route through Rondo was chosen despite the existence of a possible northern route, much of which would have run along the present Pierce Butler Route.

Keith Baker presented an overview of the Reconnect Rondo project.  The first two phases, concept development and feasibility studies, were completed between 2016 and 2021.  The organization is now engaged in the planning and financing stages, which should be completed by 2025.  Hopefully, the design and construction phases will be completed by the end of the decade.  Feasibility studies have shown the project to be potentially viable.  Keith noted that land bridges exist all over the United States.  The Rose Garden in Duluth is built on a land bridge.  Seattle has nine land bridges.  The Rondo Reconnect project would create 21 acres of new land and 13.8 acres of green space.  There would be hundreds of new housing units as well as community buildings and commercial space.  Keith reminded us of the economic loss to Rondo community members and the Twin Cities by Interstate 94 construction through this area and suggested significant potential economic benefits from creating a land bridge and an African American cultural enterprise district.  Keith said that the state investment (assuming a significant (and not unfeasible) federal contribution) in the Rondo project would be significantly less than the state investment in other projects, such as US Bank Stadium or Target Field.  He pointed out that in addition, these projects benefited from massive infrastructure investments.  Reconnect Rondo would be funded by public, private, non-profit and community partnerships.

Keith Baker answered many questions from the audience.

President Heidi Fisher thanked Keith Baker for coming to our meeting.  She reminded those present of scheduled upcoming meetings.  Keith invited everyone to Rondo Night at the St. Paul Winter Carnival, a popular event which will be held this year on February 1.

President Heidi Fisher adjourned the meeting at 6:30.

Mike Zlonis

At 12:16 pm on January 9th, Heidi Fisher, the President, called the meeting to order at the Intercontinental Hotel. Heidi led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and thanked the volunteers helping at the meeting, Dana Bruce and John Kupris were the greeters, Susan Rostkoski for introducing guests, Brianna Haglin for the Inspirational Minute and Four Way Test, our amazing tech team, the scribe, Linda Mulhern, and our club administrator Amanda Mai.

Brianna talked in her inspirational minute about greeting the new year and reflecting on the power of one and how we have provided leadership for the community.

Ken Schaefer introduced our newest member, Rob Thomas, the Development Director at the History Theater, where over 100 world plays have been introduced. He is also a member of the White Bear Lake Historical Society and lives in the Como Park area of St Paul.

Jay Pfaender introduced our speaker, John Marshall, who works with Community Relations and the Foundation at Xcel Energy. John is a former St Paul Rotarian, is a member of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and winner of the Minnesota Jaycees award.

Xcel Energy was founded in 1909 in the city of Stillwater by HM Byllesby, an associate of Thomas Edison. He worked at combining all local community power companies into Northern State Power. In the 1930s, NSP was able to run a line to Mankato and by the 1960s and 1970s there was a large build out of the infrastructure which included Black Dog, King, Monticello, Prairie Island, and Sherco power plants along with the 345 kv Loop. You may be wondering about the 345 kv Loop, in which NSP foresaw the need to build around the 694/494 loop in the Twin Cities. It helped to build the Twin Cities and drives the economic growth and much of the work was done prior to the communities being developed in the area. Xcel was formed by the merger of NSP and New Century Energies of Denver based on deregulation of the 1990s. It was determined very quickly that deregulation did not work because energy production and distribution is a highly regulated monopoly.

Xcel’s business model is generation, transmission, distribution, gas, nuclear and planning for what the energy system will do for the community. Their priorities include “clean energy”, enhance customer experience and to keep bills low for their residential and business customers. Their goals, which are also mandated by each of the 8 states that it serves, are the following: 100% carbon-free electricity, Net zero natural gas and zero carbon transportation. The most difficult will be net zero natural gas, but by influencing natural gas suppliers, operating the cleanest system possible and the ability to offer more options, it may be achievable. They are currently working to reduce their carbon emissions by 85% and are hoping to achieve this goal by 2030 or 2040 at the latest. Xcel will be increasing their use of renewable energy, energy efficiency and investing in the grid. Xcel is interlocked with the economy and employment of people as well as the taxes paid to the state. Many of their employees also volunteer their time within the communities that they live in as well.

The trivia question of the day was the year the first Rotary Commemorative Stamp was created. Jay Pfaender answered with 1952, but the actual answer was 1931.

Happy dollars included Heidi Fisher’s birthday on 1/8 and the Legacy award for the Legends Breakfast by “The 30 Days Foundation” on 1/30/24 at 7:15 am. The money raised at the event helps people who need just a little help with rent or utilities. The event will have over 20 legendary MN Vikings attend to celebrate Dennis Ryan, the equipment manager of the Vikings for 47 years.  

The next meeting will be Tuesday, 1/16 at 5:01 pm at the University Club. The meeting will be about the Reconnect Rondo plans. The meeting on 1/23 will be a club assembly and on 1/30 will be the annual Winter Carnival meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:16 pm.

Linda Mulhern

Incoming President Shelly Rucks called St. Paul Rotary’s 501 on January 2nd to order.  Tech Team support was handled by Matt Magers and Ken Crabb.  Our meeting began with the pledge of allegiance.  Ken Schaefer introduced our newest club member Khadija Zeigi, a social studies teacher for St. Paul Public Schools.  Susan Rostkoski read a blessing as her inspirational moment and then led our Club with the Four-Way Test.  There were no guests at the meeting so Bo Aylin’s duties were easy.

Our meeting speakers Joan Bibelhausen and our very own Karin Ciano shared what the purpose of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Organization does and Lawyer Regulation in Minnesota.  Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is an independent not for profit organization in Minnesota.  They are a support system for lawyers, judges, law students and legal professionals.  They supported over 411 cases in 2023.

Lawyer Regulation was provided by Karin.  There are over 26,260 lawyers in Minnesota and they receive 1000 complaints per year.  They give advisory opinions, provide a client security fund and also have service opportunities for non-lawyers to get involved.

Rotary’s Fast Facts Question of the Day was “What is the name of the Rotary Group for Lawyers?”  Answer:  Rotarian Lawyers Fellowship.  Karin was awarded a Rotary coffee mug.

Bo Aylin collected happy dollars from many of our Rotarians.

As club announcements winded down our meeting, announcements included the 2024 St. Croix River Dunk; an upcoming service project with DECA and a preview of upcoming speakers for our January meetings.  Twenty-five Rotarians had a great evening and it was a great way to kick off 2024.

Dave Dominick, Scribe.

Join us at the University Club on December 19th as we hear from Dennis Van Norman about his book, Threading a Kayak down the Mississippi – a Journey through the River’s Cultures and Characters.

Dennis Van Norman was born and raised in a river town, St. Paul, Minnesota. His childhood included playing in Indian Mounds Park, climbing on the limestone bluffs and cliffs overlooking the Mississippi River, and exploring the caves scattered along the river’s banks.

He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and the College of St. Thomas. His professional writing has been in the corporate world and includes a business journal publication, writing strategic plans, mission statements, and executive speeches.

His writing for fun has included a regular column for a small-town Wisconsin newspaper. The column, Random Shots from a Grassy Knoll, featured different golf courses and the characters that crowded them. He has written a book of poetry, Courtside Chatter, that covered his daughter Kelly’s four years of varsity basketball at Gustavus Adolphus College, earning him a Varsity Athletic Award and Letter as Honorary Poet Laureate.

When he is not traveling, Dennis still enjoys his regular morning walks along the timeless Mississippi River, at the foot of those same bluffs he scrambled about as a boy.

The book, Threading a Kayak down the Mississippi – a Journey through the River’s Cultures and Characters, is part history, nature, travel, and memoir.

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