I want our conference to be a fun gathering where no one will feel they don’t belong. Ergo, there will be a no tie policy. Well, if you really want to wear one, you can. We won’t be running around cutting off ties. But I just want as many Rotarians from District 7530 to be there as possible. I don’t want anything to hold you back from joining your friends and future friends.
A President’s Rep will be joining us at district conference this year. Jim Ives, of the Dearborn MI club, will be our keynote speaker at Saturday night’s banquet. Jim is a former governor of District 6400 (2004-2005), that spans southeast Michigan, including parts of Detroit, Dearborn and Grosse Point, as well as parts of southwestern Ontario. It consists of 50 clubs. Jim also served as his club’s president (1997-98) and still serves as his club’s webmaster and official photographer at regular club meetings. His wife Diane also is a member and both have traveled to Africa for Rotary. They participated in a polio immunization program in Nigeria and went to South Africa for the African Presidents Conference. Their two sons have both been overseas; one to Kenya for project and their other spent a year in Finland as an exchange student. In his real life, he is executive vice president of Rose Pest Solutions. I’m sure Jim will have some words of encouragement and motivation as we continue to strive to meet our membership obligations.
Our other key speakers will be Patrick Eakes on Friday night. He is an assistant regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, covering districts 7550, 7570, and 7690 as well as our own. He is a former president of the Crescant Rotary Club (NC) and led his club’s drive to become the first Triple Crown club (100 percent Paul Harris Fellow, Sustaining PH member, and Benefactor simultaneously) in Rotary world. He has served as his district’s chair or co-chair for five years and during that time the district became the first district in the world  where every club (50 clubs) became a 100 percent Paul Harris Fellow club. In each of those five years, District 7690 also led the world in number of 100 percent Sustaining clubs.
Speaking at Saturday’s luncheon will be Tiffany Irvin, a “preacher’s kid,” former beauty queen who has taken her journalism degree and turned it into a career in public relations, TV show host, motivational speaker and consignment clothing shop owner. A resident of Hendersonville, SC, she is a past president (2013-2014) of the Four Seasons Rotary club. Tiffany will be speaking about the 30th anniversary of women in Rotary.
There will be lots to do at this year’s conference. In addition to the Ellis Vest member-guest golf tournament on Friday morning at Lakeview County Club, there will be an 8 a.m. Polio walk from outside the Holiday Inn on Saturday. From 9-11 a.m., Stop Hunger Now will be filling food bags at the Wesley Methodist Church downtown. Transportation will be provided for Rotarians. And our five exchange students are working on their presentations, which is always one of the most highly attended programs.
Clubs are asked to bring displays of their clubs and/or their projects and an official licensed vendor or Rotary garb will be present Saturday.
But the most important part of any Rotary conference or assembly is meeting and greeting other Rotarians and sharing ideas. I know we can’t get every member of the district to attend but my goal is to have each club be represented, particularly for Friday’s banner parade before the dinner.
The District Conference is rounding into shape. It will be held April 21-22 at the Holiday Inn in Morgantown, which is near the WVU football stadium. It is a new hotel with plenty of free parking. Among other planned events, we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of women being admitted to Rotary. I would like to extend an invitational to all of those brave women who became the first female member of a club. Even if you’re not a member anymore, I would like to invite you to Saturday night’s dinner as a special guest of the district. I hope all clubs will search their records and ask their long-standing members to seek the names of those pioneers and reach out to them and invite them to the conference. I think it would be great if we could get all the “First Ladies” in attendance so we could recognize their great contribution to Rotary.
The Ellis Vest Memorial Golf Tournament will be played April 21st at Lakeview Country Club in Morgantown. A shotgun start will being at 8 a.m. This is an annual tourney usually played on the weekend of the district conference. Participation in the golf is counted as partipation at the conference. However, the format will be different this year. It will be a scramble event as before but it will be a member-guest tournament. Each foursome playing must be made up of two members and two non-Rotarians. Two clubs can share one foursome –one member and one guest. The hope is that the non-Rotarians will get a taste of Rotary and enjoy the fellowship that Rotary is known for. It’s a great way to recruit new members. And clubs can field as many teams as they see fit. Last year, Cheat Lake fielded three teams. Unfortunately, they were the only teams that entered. Hopefully, we can round up 18 foursomes, which would give us 36 new member prospects.