Rotary polio eradication program nearly 100% effective 3-10-13


Should you espy empty gallon jugs stationed at local middle and elementary schools, they serve a purpose on an international scale.

Sunrise Rotary Club member Mike McKeirnan spoke at a recent meeting and said children in the classrooms can contribute pennies to Rotary International’s Pennies for Polio program, which aims to eradicate polio.

One child can be vaccinated for each 65 cents contributed, Mike said. The class that raises the most funds will be rewarded with a pizza party.

Rotary volunteers distributed the jugs for collections in late February.

Worldwide, Rotary is a prime sponsor of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which has reduced polio by 99.8 percent with less than 10 new cases so far this year.

Vaccination is allowed in all countries except Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan where the disease remains endemic.

In addition, Rotarians heard from Arch McHie, adviser for the Walla Walla High School FFA. He was accompanied by Agricultural Issues teammates, who presented the pros and cons of relocating Highway 12 through the alkali bee beds of Walla Walla County in the presentation “To Bee or Not to Bee.”

Team members were Lexi Swenson, moderator; Melissa Magnaghi, reporter; Tyler Morgan, Department of Transportation representative; Natalie Hartford, property owner; and Summer Carlson and Anna Pettijohn, members of the public. The team recently won the District contest with this debate and are slated to present it at state competition in May.

“The team gave a great presentation representing both sides of the problem of improving safety, relieving congestion and improving freight mobility on Highway 12 by relocating it and widening it to four lanes, at the same time pointing out the problem of displacing many acres alkali bee beds and posing a threat from vehicles striking bees,” Rotarian John McKern noted.

“Potentially, the highway relocation could have a serious effect on the alfalfa seed industry and the alkali bee population.

“This is an industry that places Walla Walla County alfalfa seed production second in the nation and includes 120 acres of alkali bee beds. The alfalfa seed industry contributes $12 million back into the local economy.”

Sunrise Rotary meets at 6:45 a.m. Wednesdays for breakfast and community interest programs at St. Francis Community Center, 722 W. Alder St. For more information contact President Hank Worden at or 525-0838, or online see .

On the job as program director for the Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance since September 2012, Alina Launchbaugh talked about her work during a Milton-Freewater Rotary Club meeting.

The organization’s intent is to revitalize the downtown area so it will appeal to tourists and local residents. Now part of the National Main Street and Oregon Main Street programs, they benefit from its assistance in improving towns with less than 10,000 citizens and to make changes that encourage tourism and improve the business climate.

Timothy Bishop, former director of Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, met with Alina’s group early on to talk about his work in Walla Walla.

Oregon Main Street used computer enhancement on photos taken of several North Main Street businesses to suggest reasonable changes in their appearance, including reverting in some cases to their original look. Adding a different awning or changing the color of the building could be a starting point.

Board members include Norm Saager, president; Rick Rambo, vice president; Jesse Maxwell, treasurer; Julie Culjak, secretary; Judy Chesnut, Mari Meza, Paul Seaquist, David Shannon, Mike Watkins and Cheryl York.

For more details, contact Alina at 541-938-4265 and online see

At another Rotary meeting, Rotarians heard from Milton-Freewater’s Horizon Project Inc. special projects coordinator Ben Currin.

A group of citizens in 1978 incorporated Horizon, 608 N. Russell St., as a means to give those with developmental disabilities an opportunity to participate in the community. Their work now extends into Umatilla County, with offices in Pendleton and Hermiston.

The non-profit corporation’s board members are tapped from local leaders and professionals throughout Umatilla County.

Horizon currently has about 175 employees and works with about 110 clients who are mostly funded under Medicaid, Medicare and/or Social Security. To give them gainful employment, Horizon matches the abilities of individuals to business needs.

Horizon Brand Mercantile, 223 S.W. Court Ave., is an outlet store in Pendleton they developed where clients display their handmade rugs, jewelry, ceramics and fabric products for sale.

Horizon owns and operates group homes in Milton-Freewater, Pendleton and Hermiston. A $450,000 grant they received from the Oregon Housing and Community Services will allow them to make some needed repairs and refurbishment to the affordable housing project called Pioneer Commons. They are developing very secure facilities in Pendleton for clients who need an extra level of control. Some of their clients require considerable medical attention as well.

If businesses can expand their facilities to provide employment new personnel, they could contact Ben to make use of their grant funds on a joint project.

The Horizon-originated recycling program is experiencing a real problem in the current market trend, Ben said. Recycling material that used to bring in more than $6,000 is struggling to take in less than one-tenth that amount. There is not much of a market for recycled products at the present time, he said. Ben can provide more details at 541-938-5658

Robby Robbins kindly provides written reports on these Rotary meetings. He can answer questions about the club at 541-938-6523 or . The group meets 11:45 a.m. Tuesdays in the Milton-Freewater Community Building, 109 N.E. Fifth St.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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