The Presidential Changeover

Outgoing President Bill Dowd displays the Rotary emblem-embossed decanter handed to him by incoming President Terry Brewer.

Outgoing President Bill Dowd displays the Rotary emblem-embossed decanter handed to him by incoming President Terry Brewer.

A group of more than 25 Rotarians and friends assembled at the Brown residence on Thursday evening for the annual Presidential Changeover dinner.

Bill Dowd handed over the reins of the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club for the upcoming 2015-16 Rotary Year to Terry Brewer.

In addition to some good food, drink and fellowship, we also held a guessing game — coming closest to estimating the amount of money donated over the current Rotary Year to the “Pocket Change For …” jug. Peter Brown took the honors, and will receive a free meal when SRC returns to Quigley’s restaurant in September.

Donations to the jug came to $589. Bill said he had added enough to round it out at $600, and he acquired a dollar-for-dollar match from Price Chopper. Thus, our club’s donations were the catalyst for a $1,200 grant to The Great American Milk Drive, a food pantry supplemental program.

The “Pocket Change For …” program began under President April Dowd in the 2013-14 Rotary Year, when proceeds went to autism programs at the Wildwood School. For 2015-16, Terry has designated the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk as the recipient. Bill presented Terry with the relabeled jug and a stack of donated dollar bills to “prime the pump” for his drive.

Members signify their guesses in the

Members signify their guesses in the “Pocket Change for …” drive.

Early RSVP deadline for Presidential Changeover

Gavel2Our weekly RSVP request is being posted a day or so earlier than usual because we need your responses a day earlier.

As you know, Debbie and Peter Brown are generously hosting the event at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 25, when I hand over the presidential gavel to Terry Brewer for the 2015-16 Rotary Year that begins on July 1.

All who plan to attend are asked to bring a salad or appetizer. The Browns will provide all other sustenance. Please provide any additional reservations or changes NO LATER THAN MONDAY EVENING, June 22, to allow them ample kitchen planning time.

The latest headcount shows us at 22 people, which includes four guests — Betty Brewer, Diane Leyhane, Maggie Forth and Jeremy Forth. IF YOU PLAN TO BRING A GUEST, please be sure his or her name is on the list that follows:


  1. Pat Bailey
  2. Geoff Brewer
  3. Terry Brewer
  4. Betty Brewer (guest)
  5. Debbie Brown
  6. Peter Brown
  7. April Dowd
  8. Bill Dowd
  9. Dick Drumm
  10. Charlie Foote
  11. Murray Forth
  12. Maggie Forth (guest)
  13. Jeremy Forth (guest)
  14. Ray Hannan
  15. Len Leonidas
  16. Jim Leyhane
  17. Diane Leyhane (guest)
  18. Roberto Martinez
  19. Carol Orvis
  20. Debbie Rodriguez
  21. Shannon Romanowski
  22. Carole Spencer


  1. Ron Annis
  2. Dean Calamaras
  3. Doris Calamaras
  4. Jim Mendrysa
  5. Rommel Tolentino


  1. A.J. Amato
  2. Jim Butterworth
  3. Rob Mangold
  4. David Taylor
  5. Stewart Wagner
  6. Melissa Bill

Meeting of 6/18/15: ‘An Actor’s Life’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
June 18, 2015

Attending (20): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Terry Brewer, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Ray Hannan, A.J. Amato, Geoff Brewer, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Debbie Rodriguez, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Stewart Wagner, Rommel Tolentino, Carol Orvis, Jim Butterworth.

Guests (4): Robert S. Woods, Barbara Foote, David Taylor, Willie Widby.

PROGRAM: “An Actor’s Life”

Screen shot 2015-06-19 at 1.52.18 PM

Veteran actor Robert S. Woods entertains the group with some show biz anecdotes.

Charlie Foote introduced fellow Columbia County resident Robert S. Woods, longtime soap opera star as Bo Buchanan on “One Life to Live.”

Bob, who was born in California, came east for more regular theater and television work and wound up being a longtime New York City resident. In his long career, from which he says he recently retired (“I guess that’s what you call it when you pack up everything you own in boxes, move away from your place of work and don’t look back”), he has appeared in numerous television shows, national commercials, plays and movies.

Bob said his first job was during college when he worked at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. In college, he was a radio-and-television major with aspirations to become a director. But, the Vietnam War was raging and he decided to enlist rather than wait to be drafted. He wound up serving 15 months in Vietnam as a Special Forces “Green Beret” soldier.

After being discharged, he returned to working at Disneyland and his college studies, then switched to fulltime study on the G.I. Bill. After graduation, his first primetime TV job was a two-line role on the “City of Angels” series starring Wayne Rogers of “M*A*S*H” TV fame. He went on to a recurring role on “The Waltons,” toured with the play “Barefoot In the Park” opposite Dorothy Lamour, and had several other jobs before being asked to audition for “One Life to Live.” He actually auditioned for a different role than the one for which he was cast in 1979. He appeared on that soap opera until 1986, winning a Daytime Emmy Award for Lead Actor in 1983 for his portrayal of the character Bo Buchanan, then returned to California. A second stint on the same show began in 1988 and lasted until the show was cancelled in 2012.

Bob said he succeeded in his ventures despite the difficulties of military life and the vagaries of the acting profession by adhering to his father’s advice: Never quit. If you undertake any venture in life, stick it out and finish your commitment. But, he also showed a carefree side when he described some of the practical jokes he regularly pulled on fellow actors over the years.


Tonight was the last opportunity to contribute to “The Great American Milk Drive” via our “Pocket Change” weekly push. President Bill Dowd said he has checked with Price Chopper and it will match our contribution to that food bank-oriented program dollar-for-dollar. The final accounting will be announced next week at the Presidential Changeover dinner.

PRESIDENTIAL CHANGEOVER — Our next meeting, the Presidential Changeover dinner, will be held at 6 p.m. next Thursday at the Castleton residence of Debbie and Peter Brown. Attendees are asked to bring a salad or appetizer; the Browns will supply everything else.

SUMMER CASUAL SCHEDULE — We have only two open dates to fill for the summer, August 13 and 20. The latest additions/changes: Ray Hannan will host one casual picnic event at Eastwyck on Monday, July 13 (a change from our usual Thursday night schedule); Dean and Doris Calamaras have switched their hosting date to July 23; Terry Brewer will host a casual picnic event on August 20. To keep up with any additions or changes, go to the club website and click on EVENTS at the top of the page to get a link to our calendar.

DINNER & A BASEBALL GAME — Terry Brewer said he has reserved 35 tickets, although more may be acquired if needed, for our annual pavilion picnic  and ValleyCats pro baseball game on July 30 at Bruno Stadium on the grounds of Hudson Valley Community College. See Terry ASAP to submit your reservations. Tickets are $25 each, the same as last year.

DINNER & A SHOW — Doris Calamaras said a block of tickets has been reserved for our scheduled August 6 visit to the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham for a perfomance of the iconic musical “West Side Story.” Tickets are $34 per person, with $2 of each ticket going to our club treasury. Reservation deadline is July 23 with Doris. In addition, she will need names no later than July 23 of those who wish to have a pre-theater dinner at the Four Brothers restaurant (2960 Route 9, Valatie), which is a short drive from the theater. We will order off  the menu, but a headcount is needed for the restaurant to be able to set up tables and place settings.

‘Soap Opera Night’ at Quigley’s on June 18

Loyita Chapel and Robert S. Woods

Loyita Chapel and Robert S. Woods

We’re closing out our 2014-15 Quigley’s schedule on Thursday, June 18, with  a very special guest.

Robert S. Woods, who earned a Daytime Emmy Award for his portrayal of the character Bo Buchanan on “One Life to Live,” will be our after-dinner speaker, thanks to Charlie Foote. Robert is married to the actress Loyita Chapel, seen above.

This promises to be a memorable event, so we urge you to attend and bring a guest or two. This will be our final formal dinner meeting until September, the schedule giving way as it does each year to a “summer casual” scene that will include a variety of outings. Among them:

• A picnic-style dinner at the Forth residence on July 9.

• A picnic-style dinner at the Calamaras residence on July 16.

• A pavilion dinner and ValleyCats baseball game at Bruno Stadium in Troy on July 30.

• A performance of the iconic musical “West Side Story” at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, after dinner at the Four Brothers Pizza & Restaurant  on August 6.

Minutes of 6/11/15: ‘S.T.A.R.S. and Seniors’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
June 11, 2015

Attending (19): Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Terry Brewer, April Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, A.J. Amato, Debbie Brown, Ray Hannan, Geoff Brewer, Len Leonidas, Shannon Romanowski, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Debbie Rodriguez, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Stewart Wagner.

Guests (2): Walter Tuszinsky, Sharon Tuszinsky.

PROGRAM: “S.T.A.R.S. and Seniors”

Sharon and Walter Tuszynski.

Sharon and Walter Tuszynski.

A.J. Amato introduced Walter and Sharon Tuszynski, who work with Medicaid applications under the title “S.T.A.R.S. for Seniors, L.L.C.” (“S.T.A.R.S.” is the acronym for “Sharon Tuszynski’s Application and Referral Service.”)

Walter explained the options for seniors who may be receiving care  in a nursing home: self-pay, longterm care insurance, which he termed very expensive, or Medicaid. He supplied a booklet with several documents and forms delineating the guidelines and steps to be taken to enroll the dependent spouse in Medicaid.

The resource allowance for 2015 is $14,850, but other programs allow for additional funds such as life insurance valued at $1,500. He also described such items as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance, treatment of IRA, Spousal Refusal, and using trusts to protect spousal assets.

Sharon detailed the 60-month “look back” period for transfers to trusts, which the government will scrutinize to ascertain any financial transfers, the penalty period that could stem from unallowable transfers, and exempt transfers (such as the homestead or of assets). And, she explained how to protect assets with promissory notes and Medicaid trusts or family trusts.

The Tuszynskis, who reside in East Greenbush, are available for consultation and assistance in setting up trusts and for other related concerns. Phone: 283-5363.


CHANGEOVER DINNER — President Bill Dowd reminded members to make reservations for the June 25 event to be hosted by the Browns. Attendees are asked to bring an appetizer or salad. Main dishes will be provided.

GREAT AMERICAN MILK DRIVE — Next week is the final opportunity to contribute to this year’s “Pocket Change” program beneficiary. Bill will check with Price Chopper which has just begun advertising a matching-funds contribution for the drive. Our collection total will be announced at the Presidential Changeover, at which time members will be asked to make their guesses as to the figure; closest to the number, over or under, will win a free meal when we resume meeting at Quigley’s in September.

2015-16 DUES — Members were reminded that dues for the upcoming Rotary Year are due to be submitted to Treasurer Murray Forth no later than June 30. Full-year ($175) or half-year ($87.50) payments are acceptable. If a half-year payment is made, the remaining $87.50 is due no later than December 31.

SUMMER SCHEDULE — President-elect Terry Brewer reminded the club that outings have been scheduled for July 30 (picnic dinner and ValleyCats baseball game at Bruno Stadium in Troy) and August 6 (the musical “West Side Story” at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, with an order-off-the-menu dinner beforehand at the Four Brothers Pizza Inn in Hillsdale). We still need to fill open dates for other weeks, or there will be no meetings held on those particular days. We have July 9  (at the Forth residence) and July 16 (at the Calamaras residence) filled. We need casual-dinner hosts or planned outings for July 23 and August 13, 20 and 27.

MEMBER SURVEYS — Terry said he has received about 20 completed surveys by tonight, which was the deadline. He asked that the remainder of members please complete the forms and return them to him ASAP to help he and Debbie Rodriguez, who will become president-elect on July 1, make a two-year plan for the club’s direction.

MISCELLANY — Debbie Rodriguez said she has checked into possible Dutch Apple cruises and found the prices “prohibitive.” She described other boat trip possibilities, some of which are daytime and/or on days other than Thursday. Terry pointed out that during our summer casual period we can consider non-Thursday events if there is enough member interest.

NEXT MEETING — 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at Quigley’s. Charlie Foote has arranged for actor Robert S. Woods to be our speaker.

Meeting of 6/4/15: ‘Franking In America’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush
June 4, 2015

Attending (18): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Ray Hannan, Terry Bailey, Geoff Bailey, Roberto Martinez, Charlie Foote, Carole Spencer, Dean Calamaras, Doris Calamaras, Debbie Rodriguez, Rommel Tolentino, Stewart Wagner.

Guests (2): George McGowan, David Taylor.

PROGRAM: “Franking In America: 1776-1850″

Speaker George McGowan and his sponsor, Stewart Wagner.

Speaker George McGowan and his sponsor, Stewart Wagner.

Stewart Wagner introduced George McGowan, an East Greenbush resident who is a philatelist and collector of historic stamps and mailers.

George discussed the practice of “franking,” a system of free mailings for various government officials at public expense. It began, he said, during the Continental Congress as members were allowed free mailing. The practice eventually was expanded to include various other government officials, the presidential first lady, postmasters and others. There were numerous instances, however, of illicit uses of the franking privilege to handle business mail, personal correspondence, and political mailings at no charge.

Benjamin Franklin was the colonial postmaster under British rule, and briefly held the post in the new United States when he was instrumental in creating the postal system in the United States using the British system as a model.

In the early years, mail charges were on a price-by-piece basis; i.e., a letter would count as one piece, an enclosure such as a check or document as another piece, and an envelope as another. Thus, many people wrote everything on one piece of paper to avoid triple costs. In the 1840s, postal regulations were changed to charge three cents per piece of mail no matter how large or how great the distance to be carried. That resulted in a tremendous increase in the use of mail, and more revenue for the government.

The speaker distributed examples of historic mailings with addressing and signatures covering everything from local correspondence to federal government offices.

During a question-and-answer session, George was asked the origin of the term “franking.” He said it was a very old usage and its origin is unknown. (However, a quick online search revealed that “The phrase franking is derived from the Latin word ‘francus,’ meaning free.”) He also confirmed that the small obelisk-shaped mileage markers seen in some parts of the country were used to measure postal distances so carriers could ascertain bills at the point of initial mailing.


WELCOME — President Bill Dowd welcomed new member David Taylor, who will become a Rotarian effective on July 1. David was sponsored by Ray Hannan.

SUMMER ACTIVITIES —  A sign-up sheet for our next few meetings is circulating. Please remember to sign up for the Presidential Changeover Dinner at the Browns’ residence on June 25. They will supply the entrée and dessert; members are asked to bring appetizers, salads, etc. … We still need hosts for casual picnics on three dates in July and three in August. (During the meeting, two of those slots were filled — July 9 at the Forth residence, July 16 at the Calamaras residence.) Dean and Doris Calamaras are coordinating an August 6 trip to the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham for a performance of “West Side Story.” Doris recommended the Four Brothers restaurant in Valatie for anyone wishing to have dinner before the theater visit. And, our annual picnic and ValleyCats pro baseball game at Bruno Stadium is set for July 30, with Terry Brewer coordinating the event.

SURVEY — A reminder was issued to fill out and return the membership survey President-elect Terry recently distributed. The deadline for doing so is next Thursday, June 11.

2015-16 DUES — Dues for the upcoming new Rotary Year must be submitted to Treasurer Murray Forth by June 30. Full-year dues remain at $175, six-month dues $87.59, the latter with a second installment to be paid no later than December 31.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 11, at Quigley’s. We will have a speaker on the topic of “STARS & Seniors: Asset Management and Medicaid Trusts.”

5/28/15: Great No. American Whizbang Trivia Test

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
May 28, 2015

Attending (13): Bill Dowd, Pat Bailey, Murray Forth, April Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Dick Drumm, Terry Brewer, Stewart Wagner, Rob Mangold, Debbie Brown, Peter Brown, Ron Annis, Geoff Brewer.

Guests (3): ADG Bob Van Alstine, Monika Annis, John Teevan.

PROGRAM: The Great North American Whizbang Trivia Test

Trivia1 Trivia2

Bill Dowd presented a PowerPoint trivia contest for attendees, with prizes awarded at the end.

The categories were sports, show biz, science, food and drink, and geography, with five one-point questions and a bonus three-point question in each area. Screen shot 2015-05-29 at 10.22.10 AMAssistant District Governor Bob Van Alstine (at left in top photo) finished atop the heap, followed by Ron Annis and Jim Leyhane finishing second and third.

Bill said if members enjoyed the effort, he would like to make this an annual fun after-dinner program. General response seemed to be in favor.


GUESTS — President Bill welcomed Assistant DG Bob Van Alstine and visitors Monika Annis and John Teevan. The latter learned of Rotary by checking our website and wanted to learn more about the organization, a contact point that has been mentioned by visitors to several recent meetings.

EVENTS — We are working on creating a summer-casual calendar to begin in early July that will help ease Terry Brewer’s and Debbie Rodriguez’s Rotary Year startup. So far we have our two mainstay field trips scheduled — July 30, for a pavilion picnic and ValleyCats pro baseball game at Bruno Stadium, and August 6, for a professional production of “West Side Story” at the MacHaydn Theatre in Chatham. There will be no meeting on Thursday, July 2, since that typically is a heavy vacation period. We have some dates open for anyone who wants to put together other outings or host potluck or catered picnics. They are July 9, 16, 23; August 13, 20, 27.

SURVEY REMINDER — A reminder to fill out and return the survey forms Terry distributed last week. As a backup, every member was sent a copy of the survey by e-mail last Friday.

POCKET CHANGE DRIVE — A reminder that there are only three (3) meetings left here at Quigley’s to donate to the “Pocket Change” jar that will be used to support The Great American Milk Drive, a food pantry supplemental service. As previously announced, we again this year will give everyone an opportunity to guess how much money is in the jar as of June 18. The person guessing closest to the correct amount, either over or under, at the June 25 Presidential Changeover dinner to be hosted by the Browns will win a free meal when we resume meetings at Quigley’s in September.

NEXT MEETING — 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at Quigley’s. Stewart Wagner has arranged for stamp expert George McGowan to speak on “Franking In America: 1776-1850.”

A note from the District Governor

Screen shot 2015-05-26 at 6.35.30 AMThank you for the 200+ that joined us in Schoharie Valley as District 7190 embarked on a new approach for our District Conference.

Rave reviews for our “Day of Service” on Friday, team building/workshops on Saturday and then Sunday brunch at the American Hotel where our own Sharon Springs Rotary Club became a 100% Paul arris Fellow club.

Thanks to everyone for your confidence and attendance for a very memorable District Conference.

Dave Hennel
7190 DG 2014-15

Survey says — whatever you want it to

Here’s a copy of the member survey distributed by President-elect Terry Brewer at last week’s meeting. Please be sure to fill out your copy and return it to Terry no later than June 11.

Screen shot 2015-05-26 at 6.28.33 AM

Screen shot 2015-05-26 at 6.28.46 AM

How one district redefined its conference, and succeeded

Quintin Woodon

Quintin Woodon

District Conferences are both a boon and a bane, depending on the Rotary district, the membership, and the time and money Rotarians are willing to invest in them. A Maryland district decided to take a different approach to its annual event. Here’s a report on what was done and how it worked out.

By Quentin Wodon

For the past four years, I have conducted evaluations of our District 7620 conferences using surveys administered through the web. This year our conference was different:

• It was shorter than previous conferences and cheaper to attend.
• It included on the first day several opportunities to participate in community service projects with local NGOs [non-government organizations].
• It had substantially higher attendance (425 registrations) than previous conferences.
• It focused largely on fun and fellowship, with only a few sessions on Rotary matters.
• It involved multiple locations with transportation provided from one location to the other.
• Because the conference was located in an area with several Rotary clubs nearby, many participants were also able to attend without having to book a hotel night.

Did the new format of the conference work? A total of 155 participants responded to the evaluation survey, which makes the results reliable. Overall, the conference was clearly a success. As shown in Figure 1 below, almost half of participants rated the conference as being better than previous conferences. This is slightly below the result for last year at 60%, but still impressive given that for the previous two years (2012 and 2013) most respondents rated the conferences on par with previous conferences. We are getting better at organizing these events.

Figure 2 provides data on satisfaction rates with the facilities and various aspects of the conference. The number of respondents for each question and ratings are provided.


The ratings look good with most respondents rating most aspects of the conference as very good or good. Fewer responses are provided for hotel rooms because as mentioned many participants did not need to book a room, which is a good thing to keep costs down. The organization of the conference and the opportunities for fellowship were well rated. The categories on learning about Rotary and meeting with the district leadership were less well rated, probably in part because few sessions at the conference focused on Rotary business and training, but even in past conferences, these ratings have not been high. Importantly, the cost of the conference was much better rated than in previous years — the conference was affordable!

Some 25 different sessions were individually rated with at least nine respondents per session (this is a minimum number of respondents to ensure some reliability in the assessment). Six of the 25 sessions got 75% or more “very good” ratings: two of the service project sessions, the high school 4-way speech contest, the Interact session, the Saturday evening dinner with [noted international Rotary figure] Dean Rohrs as speaker, and the subsequent Rock Tenor music performance. In other words, service projects, interactions with youth, and the Saturday capstone events stole the show in terms of approval ratings. Another nine sessions got between 60 and 75% “very good” ratings.

What could still be improved in future years? When asked what types of sessions they would like to see more off, sessions on successful projects and debates/discussions on Rotary and its future were mentioned the most. There were few of these sessions this year, and we should probably have more next year. In terms of speakers, participants would like more motivational and entertaining speakers. Participants would like the conference to remain short at two days. As to whether it is better to have one or more districts present at the conference, the feedback was split between the two options. All of those results were similar in previous years.