Welcome - President Dan Coons
As members and guests were arriving for the meeting, they were greeted by Erwin Reimann.  
President Dan opened the meeting by introducing himself then reciting the Rotary International 2021-22 theme - Serve to Change Lives.  He then reminded everyone of the Rotary Vision Statement:
Together we see a world where people unite and 
take action to create lasting change - 
across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves
Lola McClane offered the invocation.  Joan Reimann led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Rotary Minute - Colleen Coons
Colleen began her presentation by enthusiastically stating Rotary needs Rotaract.  As District Rotaract Chair, she has become a wealth of information.  There are 203,298 Rotaractors in 10,698 Rotaract Clubs in 180 countries.  
Some things that are new in Rotaract in 2022:
  • Rotaract has been elevated to Rotary Club status - Rotaract is no longer a program under youth services
  • Rotaractors can have dual membership granted by the District Governor
  • It is an organization for those who are 18 and over (the age cap has been removed)
  • Rotaract Clubs can have access to grants and other programs offered to Rotary Clubs
  • Arizona Rotaract is part of the MDIO - The Big West Rotaract
  • There will be more to come from RI as they continue to develop Rotaract
Rotaract Clubs can be University Based (like the Grand Canyon University - GCU club sponsored by Mesa West Rotary) or community-based.  They are structured with a President, Vice President (some clubs have their incoming President serve in that role), Secretary, Treasurer, and Immediate Past President.  When, where and how frequently they meet are based on each club's bylaws.  
In University-based Rotaract Clubs, they struggle with high turnover in membership.  Community-based Rotaract Clubs struggle less with that issue.  Colleen showed some photos of Rotaractors active in Rotaract clubs in various locations:
  • The Diplomat:  Consulate Teneral, Republic of Lithuania - Egle Lauzonyte, 27, President of Rotaract, Chicago, Illinois
  • The Deal Maker:  Investment Banker - Michael Stone, 30, Rotaract, Birmingham Alabama
  • The Transformer:  Economist - Nichole Haynes, 23, Rotaract, Georgetown Central, Guyana
  • The Mediator:  Lawyer - Joan Nairuba, 26, Rotaract, Kololo, Uganda
In District 5495, an active Rotaract District Council has been established.  As District Chair, Colleen considers herself the District 5495 Rotaract North Star.  It is her job to promote Rotaract in the District, oversee new Rotaract club creation in the district and provide support for local Rotaract clubs. 
Also on the council is the District Representative, who is a Rotaractor who will guide milestones:
  • Building bridges from Interact to Rotaract to Rotary
  • Training for Club Officers
  • Succession Planning
  • Hold vote for District service projects
  • District Newsletter
  • Connect Rotaract Clubs together and strengthen the link between Rotaract and Rotary
  • Club Start-Up Kit - Digital Services 
Currently, there are eight identified Rotaract Clubs in District 5495:
  1. ASU:  30 members - Dora Le, President
  2. GCU:  10 members - Jodi Corrales, President
  3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical, Prescott Campus:  42 members - DeZsa Dumay, President
  4. Benedictine University:  Jovana Kantun Paul, President - need to restart
  5. Flagstaff:  Allison Keinz, President - need to restart
  6. Chandler Community:  Joseph Caskey, President - need to charter
  7. Phoenix:  Colton Cagle, President - need to restart
  8. Phoenix North:  club is chartered but no members
Goals are in place to establish community based Rotaract Clubs in the Chandler, Estrella, Gilbert and Yavapai communities.
She has a connection with a local printer and who has helped her develop some marketing materials.  CLICK HERE to see them.
Introduction of Guest 
  • Diane Ware was introduced by Colleen Coons
Ace of Clubs Raffle - Chuck Flint
After explaining that the holder of the raffle ticket drawn would automatically win $45 plus a chance to draw the Ace of Clubs (which we believe we are) in an attempt to win the large pot of $1,030, Chuck asked Chris Krueger to draw the winning ticket.  Seasonal visiting Rotarian, Penny May was the winner of the small pot of $45.  Her attempt to draw the Ace of Clubs was unsuccessful.  She drew the Eight of Clubs.
Happy Bucks - Penny May
  • Dick Myren contributed $2 thankful that he and Honorary Member Rod Daniels are lucky enough to be in the Ace of Clubs.
  • Ted Williams was reminded of serving several years ago on a Rotary International Rotaract Task Force.  He also remembered a Mesa Rotary Sports Day.  The Mesa West Rotary team was playing the Rotaract team in a game of baseball.  A Rotaract member was on first base and would have been safe if he had stopped at second, but decided to try for third.  Ted was in a position to throw the ball to the third baseman and get him out.  Instead, the ball hit the Rotaract runner in the side of his head, shattering his glasses.  December 13, 2021 marked Ted's 48th anniversary as a member of Mesa West Rotary.  He missed the December 16 meeting because he was recovering from knee surgery.  He celebrated his 76th birthday last week with two titanium knees.  He pledged $100 - $76 for the Club Foundation and $24 for the club.
  • John Pennypacker contributed.  He had spent part of his morning in a dental chair.  When the dental assistant complimented him saying "You're really doing well," Ron Thompson said, "Thank you!"  John did compliment Dr. Ron saying, "He works magic with a needle."
  • Jim McGown contributed.  He had some advise for his male Rotary friends.  "When your wife asks if you have any money, just rummage in your pockets for a bit, show her your empty hands, and shrug as if to say 'Sorry.'"
  • Darl Andersen wanted to honor Ted Williams as the most senior member of Mesa West Rotary, and in doing so wanted to let the members know that Ted had been made the all state baseball team from 1964-70.
  • Ron Thompson contributed in appreciation of the compliment he received.  (Not clear which compliment - one from Ron's assistant John had mentioned or his wizardry with a needle.)
  • Colleen Coons contributed $5 and was clearly happy Dan enabled her to do so.
  • Allan Cady was happy to be at the meeting.
  • Polly Cady was also happy to be at the meeting and was very glad to see Diane Ware in attendance at our meeting.
  • Kayla Mudge has been on her new job for six months now and is happy she can arrange her schedule so she can be more active in our club.
  • Don LaBarge contributed stating that his employee and our honorary member Rod Daniels is at home recovering from COVID.  Rod is being paid because Don has a policy that if his employees are vaccinated, they get paid when they are sick.
  • Chuck Flint contributed - he is very happy with the savings he enjoyed because of his extended warranty when his engine had to be replaced.  He paid $1609 for the warranty.  The parts totaled $3,400, and the engine itself cost $4,000, and the labor would be on top of that.
  • Chris Krueger was happy to have also recently seen her favorite dentist.
  • Dick Myren contributed a second time remarking that his favorite first lady, Colleen Coons, had attended her second meeting in a row without wearing a hat.
  • Warren Williamson said that the low tire pressure light had come on in Son Hee's car, so he bought her a new one.  It wasn't clear if he purchased a new tire or a new car.
  • Pam Cohen was thankful to be over COVID and very thankful she had not lost her senses of smell or taste.  She expressed her deep appreciation for the chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles Colleen Coons had prepared or her while she was sick.
  • Joan Reimann was happy to have enjoyed a delightful visit from her sister.  
  • President Dan thanked Penny May for filling in as Sgt at Arms.  When he recruited her, he had failed to notice that he had two members present who could have handled the job - Logan Harper and Ron Thompson.
  • Penny May contributed - She recently hosted a couple of her grandchildren and took them out to the Legacy Sport Complex in Mesa where they saw athletes from fourteen western states competing.  She and the grandkids were very impressed with the complex.
Auction - Penny May - Bag of Items from Alaska
After some competitive bidding, Joan Reimann's bid of $45 prevailed.   The bag contained several fun items, and Penny was good to help explain what everything represented.
  • President Dan handed the microphone to Allan Cady to announce the kickoff of the 2022 sponsorship campaign to raise funds for the Mesa West Rotary Foundation.  We have had successful sponsorship campaigns in the past and have raised over  $50,000 the past couple of campaigns.  Funds raised this way avoid the cost and work involved in holding fundraising events to raise money for charitable purposes.  Allan had placed copies of the brochure on each of the tables.  CLICK HERE to view a pdf copy of the brochure.  The first order of business will be for members to go back to those who have responded to them in the past.  Members have been placed on one of the six teams to add a little competitive spirit to the campaign.  The captains of the teams are:  Chuck Flint, Kayla Mudge, Steve Ross, Jim Crutcher, Tim Troy, and Ed Koeneman.
  • There was an announcement from Zoom participant, Jack Rosenberg.  Jack wanted to pledge $25 Happy $ for the homemade chicken noodle soup Colleen had delivered to him when he had COVID.  He said she was a lifesaver!
  • Lola McClane was invited to the front of the room by Polly Cady.  Polly presented Lola with her Rotary Leadership Institute graduation certificate and pin.  RLI is a training program for Rotarians to learn about Rotary beyond the club and district level.  It is held in three separate sessions.  Lola has completed all three.  The next RLI will be held virtually on Saturday, January 29.  All three sessions will be held simultaneously on that date.  If you are interested in attending EMAIL POLLY CADY for more information.
  • Shelly Romine reminded members we would be collecting disposable masks at each meeting during January.  They will be delivered to New Leaf.  Wednesday, January 19, emergency food boxes will be packed by Mesa West Rotarians at the United Food Bank.  For more information see a separate article in the Messenger. Dan added that Rotarians are people of action and Shelly has been keeping our club active.
  • The final outcome of the successful Mesa West Rotary bell-ringing campaign to raise funds for the Salvation Army was $6,032.00 from Rotarians and friends of Rotarians who wrote checks plus what was collected in happy bucks at our December Meetings.  In addition, $19,465.62 was collected from our kettle station at Bass Pro for a total of $25,497.62 - an all-tine-record.  We surpassed our own all-time record made in 2020 when we collected $22,300.
  • Sean Green announced he is working with DGE Larry Horton on a campaign where Rotary is partnering with the State 48 organization to sell T-Shirts for $20 each.  Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will benefit The Rotary Vocational Fund of Arizona.  Watch for more news in the future on this.
Program - Levi Slokum - Manager, Bass Pro
Ed Koeneman introduced Levi Slokum as a graduate of Cal State Fullerton.  He has been with Bass Pro for fifteen years, and at their Mesa store since 2017.  The Mesa store has earned recognition as Store of the Year.
Levi began by talking about a conversation he had with his son Klayton (with a K).  He asked Klayton whether he should talk about himself or talk about Bass Pro when he made his presentation at our club.  Klayton said "You'll do good if you talk about the store, Dad."
Levi said he had been an outdoorsman all his life.  His favorite thing to do growing up was go fishing.  After he graduated from college, he anticipated getting a marketing job - his area of focus.  While looking for that perfect job, he decided to try to get a job at the Bass Pro in Rancho Cucamonga.  He didn't know whether he would like the job but he knew he would enjoy having an employee discount.  Once employed there, his career chose him.  The culture in the Bass Pro company is what has really won him over.
Bass Pro was started by Johnnie Morris over fifty years ago.  His father gave him space in a section of his liquor store and it grew from there.  The company grew as a privately owned company with five pillars
  • Retail
  • Tracker boats and RV's
  • Hospitality
    • Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Missouri
    • New resort in the Florida Keys
  • Club Card - their own credit card
  • Conservation - with a goal to be a leader in conserving nature for future generations to enjoy
With regard to conservation, they have worked locally with Arizona Game and Fish as well as a Phoenix Junior Bass Group for youth ages 4-17 who can earn scholarship money at their fishing tournaments.
His focus is on the future.  The last couple of years have been crazy.  He knows they have been out of some things - reloading supplies in particular.  In the Mesa store, they have 230 employees.  80% are there most of the time.  They have good longevity. - 15% of the employees have been there since the store opened in 2007.
With regard to our Salvation Army kettle, Levi has really enjoyed working with Don, saying he's a pleasure to work with and fun.  He wasn't at the store on the last day when the wind created a memorable final shift, but his employees told him all about it.  They are already coming up with ideas of how they can keep our volunteers dry and in the shade next year.  At that particular location, they frequently experience microbursts where they weather changes within minutes.  They always have backup flags on hand and have to change the flag flying there at least 25 times each year.  
Levi answered some questions about the 2018 merger with Cabela's.  Bass Pro had always been a private company and Cabela's was public.  Their procedures were separate.  Merchandise and products were very similar.  A typical Bass Pro store is 180,0000 square feet, while the typical Cabela's store was 155,000 square feet.  Cabela's tended to focus on hunting and camping.  Bass Pro's real niche was fishing.  You will continue to see the Cabela's brand name on some hunting and fishing products.
In normal times, when customers asked when they would have something back in stock, he could give them good news about a near future delivery.  Today, if something is out of stock, an 8-month estimate might be the best guess he could offer on some products.
Levi had the opportunity to attend a golf tournament at Cedar Lodge when it opened.  It is a Tiger Woods designed course.  There were new cottages on the concourse.
Tim's TV Program and Johnnie Johnson both boost their business, but viewing habits of the public have changed making the impact of regular television programs less evident than in the past.
In response to a question asked by Polly Cady, Levi said Bass Pro has 161 stores in the US and Canada.
Lola asked if there were any plans for the restaurant to reopen.  Levi said there were many possibilities, but nothing for sure.  One of the possibilities mentioned would be to convert it to a Black Rifle General Store with a food court in it.  Nothing definite has been decided.
When asked if anything had shown significant increase in sales during COVID.  Levi responded that they had many more customers going fishing for the first time ever come in to buy equipment.  If the store was out of the inexpensive options, the customers readily paid more.  Supplies for outdoor activities showed a double digit increase.  Bass Pro showed an 80% increase and Cabela's increase was 81%.
Someone asked about the cat that kept kettle station volunteers intrigued while on duty.  Levi said there are actually a few cats living on the property and they are welcome.  Before the current cats - who each seem to have declared a territory - became semi-permanent residents, the store had a rat problem. that pest control companies couldn't seem to solve the problem because there were so many paces for the rats to hide.  With the ever-present cat population, the rat problem is gone.
Foot traffic in 2021 was higher than in 2020.  On weekdays, they see 5-7,000 people each day.  During the Christmas season, that increases to 10-15,000 each day.
Levi is kind of amused by the fact that the traffic is so heavy.  Nobody actually NEEDS anything they sell.  First-time shoppers are typically there 1-2 hours.  They are easily recognizable as they are slowly moving through the store gazing all around in awe.  Husbands get lost there.  It's not unusual to hear a cashier paging a missing husband.
Thefts are up.  Credit card fraud is also up.  The perpetrators will have cards that look like the real thing with the name on the card matching the ID in their wallet.  The information on the chip is related to a completely different person and is stolen information.