Saturday, August 12, 2017

Until We Meet Again, Grandpa Ray Robinson

Ray Robinson had five loves in his life:  first and foremost, his wife Ruby with whom he was almost inseparable; his family, including a deceased daughter Linda and a son Kelly as well as 7 children (Glenda, Bonnie, Laurie, Mike, TJ, Ray, Jr. and Pat); 26 grandchildren, 82 “greats” and to date, 5 great-great grandchildren. 

Ray also loved his country for which he served in the U. S. Army in World War II and recalled numerous experiences in Japan during the “clean up” period after the Armistice.

He also loved his Church.  A longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ray and Ruby spent several years as team teachers in the 7-8 year-old Primary class.  The calling he held at the time of his death was that of a greeter before Sacrament meeting – an assignment he performed faithfully every week until his health deteriorated.

And, finally, he loved Rotary!   His legendary “service above self” attitude included several years on the board of St. George Rotary including a year as president (RY2000-01); 10 years hosting – with wife Ruby – numerous foreign exchange students in their Bloomington home.  For his support of Rotary youth program’s Ray was named Utah Rotarian of the Year a few years ago.  He had 19 years of perfect attendance, due in part to his role as club song leader.  He never wanted to miss leading his Rotary friends in a rousing rendition of “God Bless America” or what he called “the tootsie wootsie song.”

He was also involved in his community, serving on boards of the United Cerebral Palsy Association, Chamber of Commerce, American Cancer Society, and the Salt Shakers both in Salt Lake City – where he was President and CEO of Rio Grande Building Products, a commercial hardward firm – and in St. George where they retired in 1999.

One of the Robinson’s favorite self-appointed services was waiting at the bus stop every morning to be certain the neighborhood children got safely on the school bus.   This simple act earned them the name of “bus stop grandparents,” a title he wore with honor.

Ray also enjoyed golf, music, woodworking, outdoor activities, but was never too busy to spend time with any family member who needed his attention or wisdom.

Ray passed from this life on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at his Bloomington home after a short battle with esophageal cancer.  He will be missed by those of us who knew and loved him and whose service impacted their lives in many, many ways.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

To Guatemala and Back ...

Over the week of Memorial Day 2017, nineteen Rotarians, family members and friends of St. George Rotary Club traveled to Guatemala for the 11th consecutive time. Covering approximately 4200 miles roundtrip to build simple stoves, help babies breathe; deliver toys, glasses and beans; and establish a local medical clinic which provided basic medical supplies where there is an overwhelming need were St. George residents Dan and Cindy Strobell, their daughter Michelle Tanner, Dave Prisbrey, Chris Parker, Gay Butler, Reed Noble and 3 of his grandsons, Cody Noble, George and Dixie Whitehead and a grandson Jason Thiriot, Tim Strobell; father and son Jason and Jaron Hendrix; and, Lynn and Lori Beecher of Cedar City.

According to event organizer Dan Strobell, Guatemala - about half the size of Utah but with a population of more than 15 million residents - has the world’s highest infant mortality rate. Currently 70 percent of Guatemalans – about 6.5 million Mayans - live in poverty and 80 percent of Guatemalan children have stunted growth due to poor nutrition. To date, families in Mayan villages have seen a “drastically improved quality of life” through the construction of 2510 simple stoves in a partnership with Guatemala’s Behrhorst Partnership Development (aka BPD) and a Rotary Global Grant totaling $56,000 funded by donations from St. George Rotary ($18,600), Aspen, CO Rotary ($5000), Cedar City Rotary ($5000), Zion Canyon Rotary ($500), District 5420 ($15,000) and $22,000 from Rotary International.

“We could work for another 100 years and not be ‘done’,” said Strobell, “but in the history of this project we have built 2510 simple stoves to replace open fires in Mayan homes, reduced deaths and burns among many hundreds of women and children; and allowed hundreds of children to return to school rather than spending their day searching for firewood.

In the 4th year of the newborn rescucitation program, “Helping Babies Breathe” Cindy Strobell, an RN at Dixie Regional Medical Center has taught many midwives how to save the lives of numerous infants thought to be stillborn.

Lynn Beecher and his school teacher wife Lori transported “mounds” of school supplies, soccer balls, sewing kits, newborn blankets, handmade toys from Cedar City’s Happy Factory to children who have “virtually nothing to call their own.” In return, the couple say they had more than a few life-changing experiences in several Mayan villages.

Jason Hendrix, MD, an ophthalmologist with St. George Eye Center, made presentations to villagers explaining the health consequences to their eyes of cooking over an unventilated open fire including, “watery eyes, headaches and sensitivity to sunlight” among other risks. At the conclusion of each presentation, he distributed prescription glasses – and sunglasses – donated by generous St. George residents.

Of course, Rotarians, their family and friends also found time to enjoy the vacation aspects of their travels including climbing ancient ruins; rest and relaxation on black sand beaches; and getting better acquainted with the area and with each other.

St. George Rotarians and others will likely travel to Guatemala again next year on or around Memorial Day weekend.

To donate to this cause or for more information, see

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Olsen Named 87th President of SGR

Rulon M. Olsen, President and CEO of
a member of St. George Rotary Club since the spring of 2013, became the 87th President of his service club at an installation luncheon on Monday, July 10, assuming duties and responsibilities from Immediate Past President Collin Davis.

Prior to passing the gavel, outgoing President Davis noted the accomplishments during his tenure as SGR’s top Rotarian included support, including funding and “boots on the ground” building simple stoves in Mayan villages in Guatemala and, a successful 14th year of purchasing and distributing paperback dictionaries to 1800 3rd grade students in 18 elementary schools in the Washington County School District.

Incoming President Olsen pledged to follow in the footsteps of “all the amazing leaders in this club who have previously served” in the club’s top position. As RY2017-18 President, Olsen has set a goal to bring 100 new members into the club. He has also expressed a hope to focus more attention on educational issues and is working toward identifying a signature service project in the St. George community and making it as successful and life-changing as the club’s international service project in Guatemala – as he works to maintain the traditions of Rotary’s past and strives to create innovation to attract younger members.

“I look forward to what Rotary can do in the upcoming year to make a difference in our community, the state and in the world. I am passionate about Rotary and what this amazing organization is doing to make the world a better place – locally and globally,” states the new club leader.

The new president will be assisted in his duties by board members Collin Davis, Immediate Past President; Lynn Beecher, President-elect; Richard Isom, Treasurer; Linda Sappington, Secretary; as well as board members Dave Prisbrey, Reed Noble, Grant Carter, Chris Parker and Terance White.

St. George Rotary Club is one of five Rotary clubs in Washington County. For more information about Rotary, see or call 435-668-0331.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rulon Olsen is SGR's Rotarian of the Year

Rulon Olsen, President and CEO of Echelon Performance Group in St. George and incoming president of St. George Rotary Club was named his club’s 2016-17 Rotarian of the Year by outgoing President Collin Davis at SGR’s annual installation and awards luncheon on July 10.

Davis notes he selected Rulon because of his efforts last year exemplifying he has Rotary and it’s ideals at heart.  He attended the Leadership Institute and the International Convention at his own expense so he could be better prepared to lead our club this year.  He organized a fun run with a client of his in another state to raise money for the Helping Babies Breathe program which has become an important part of our service in Guatemala.  He has shown dedication in helping our club grow and provide more meaningful service in the local community by facilitating club meetings dedicated to a “visioning/refocusing” our efforts and developing new membership levels to attract more people with various economic and time constraints to join our club.

Rotarians of the Year in all of Utah’s 50 Rotary clubs must be a member in good standing who has provided outstanding service to the club exceeding the expectations of membership through their commitment of time and energy to best exemplify Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Parker is SGR's Rising Star

Chris Parker, a loan officer at Cache Valley Bank’s River Road office in St. George, UT and one of 70-members of St. George Rotary Club since January 2016,was recognized at his service club’s installation luncheon on July 10 with the “Rising Star Award” acknowledging his positive attitude and support of all club activities and service projects.  According to SGR’s outgoing President Collin Davis, “Chris has consistently volunteered whenever needed and accepted the opportunity to serve on the club’s board.  He was a vital part of organizing our Night Golf tournament last year and has begun organizing the upcoming tournament as the Chair. Our club is in good hands if we can continue to attract members like Chris.”

The Rising Star Award recognizes exceptional accomplishments in service to the club, community, state or the world by a new member in good standing(those who have been members for one year or less).

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sheriff Speaks to SGR

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher clarified the word “sheriff” is a derivative of “shires” who were the law enforcement officers of the 1200’s. The sheriff in any jurisdiction is “always elected with authority granted by the people.”  The sheriff indicated his job would be so much easier if he didn’t have to oversee the jail.

Purgatory Correctional Facility is a 500-bed facility with inmates classified as Level 3-5 (5 being the ones whose crimes are more “dumb” than seriously criminal). Currently PCF has 165 employees (for which he had a full comtingency for FTE’s for “about two weeks” in his entire 6 ½ years in office).

The sheriff noted he has an “excellent working relationship with other agencies in Washington County – a favorable circumtance which does not exist anywhere else.”

The WCSO is organized into the following divisions:

The Corrections Division is responsible for functions related to the operation of Purgatory Correctional Facility. The Corrections Division includes the Corrections Chief Deputy (a.k.a., Jail Commander), corrections lieutenants, corrections sergeants, corrections deputies, and other correctional staff as determined by the Sheriff.

The Emergency Services Division is responsible for preparing for, monitoring, and responding to natural and man-made disasters and events. The Emergency Services Division includes the Emergency Services Director, Search and Rescue staff, and other staff as determined by the Sheriff. 

The Patrol Division is responsible for responding to citizen calls for assistance, patrolling Washington County, investigating traffic accidents, taking initial reports, criminal investigations, court security, and other law enforcement functions. The Patrol Division includes the Patrol Chief Deputy, patrol lieutenants, patrol sergeants, patrol deputies, and other patrol staff as determined by the Sheriff.

Sheriff Pulsipher reported:
*   the formation of a Metro-SWAT team working alongside the St. George SWAT team.
*   Heroine is a huge problem in Washington County.
*   The sheriff’s office has access to a data base which enables them to check the legal status of those they arrest.
*  There are approximately 400 gang members identified in Washington County but no areas as yet designated as “gang turf.”
*  Housing costs at PCF are $71 per day/per inmate or about $17.6 million annually.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

SGR Hears of Tortoise Times

Today in Rotary, our speaker was biologist and WashCo Habitat Conservation Plan Administrator Cameron Rognan who shared information regarding the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and its inhabitants, including the only healthy population of desert tortoises in the world.

Speaking of the plans creation in 1996 , he noted, “the plan requires us to remove tortoises before any development.  Our ‘take’ permit allows us to move 1169 tortoises … to date we have only to take about 500.  We don’t ever expect to take all of our permitted animals in our 62,000 reserve with tortoise habitat making up about half and with 130 miles of trails.”  In addition to protecting the area’s large assortment of critters, the Reserve is also popular for recreatoin, including hiking, biking and climbing.

According to the biologist, “the desert tortoise spends about 90% of its life underground, hybernating from mid-November to March and can live nearly a century.”

The reasons for the decline of the worldwide desert tortoise population are varied:

·               Upper-respiratory tract disease (URTD)
·               Loss of habitat
·               Illegal collecting
·               It takes a long time for the animals to reproduce (the babies are only approximately 2” in length, but to reach the age to reproduce [about the size of a dinner plate], it takes about 10 years)
·               Due to human population growth in the area, there has also been an increase in new predators, including ravens and raccoons.

For more information, contact the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve at 634-5759.