Meeting Notes from June 2, 2021

The June 2, 2021 meeting opened on Zoom with social time.  Lori Walters opened the meeting and provided Zoom reminders.

At 12:29, President Joanne Pierson started the meeting by ringing the bell. Tom Strode led us in “America the Beautiful”.  Inspiration was provided by Versell Smith who reflected on the importance of fathers and father figures.  The musical interlude was “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by the U-M Music Theatre Class 2021 from the UM 2021 Virtual College Concert.

President Joanne welcomed the attendees & new members & guests; thanked the set-up team, the photographer, reporter, and attendance taker. Birthdays for the week were announced. Additional reporters are needed to take notes, so please volunteer. Dues are now overdue.  A Rotary get together is scheduled for this Saturday, June 5 at Gallup park at 9:00 am near one of the shelters near the all-accessible section of the park.  Check out this month’s Ann Arbor Observer for an article written by Greg Stejskal entitled “The Double Steal”.

Steve Pierce introduced his parents, Bob and Mary Ann Pierce who have joined as new members.  Mary Ann Pierce was born in Middletown, Ohio. Mary Ann (and her entire family) went to OSU where she majored in English education with minors in theater and social studies.  “During the Michigan / OSU football game in 1960, as part of a small group of U-M men’s glee clubbers canvassing sorority houses, my mother answered the door and found my father standing there. The rest is history.” She married Bob in 1962, moved to Ann Arbor, began teaching at Ypsilanti High School and did so until she became a full-time mother until around 1980 when she began substitute teaching for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.  She was hired full-time to teach English at Tappan, then moved to Slauson, became the yearbook leader, then moved to Forsythe which she retired in 2002.  She has volunteered with the Girl Scouts and co-founded a group called “project neighborhood” working with girls from North Maple Park public housing, volunteered with Ann Arbor City Club and Cobblestone Farm and was a docent at Domino’s Farms.  She is a Delta Gamma sorority alumna, was a deacon at first Presbyterian Church, past president of Delta Kappa Gamma honorary teacher’s sorority, and is a member of PEO. She enjoys retirement, gardening and family and friends. Bob Pierce was born in Niles, was a [high school] tennis champion and president of the student and varsity club.  He was the son of the president of a lumber and building materials company where he learned carpentry.  He became a journeyman carpenter and performed hard manual labor for his father -as life-lessons offered from father to son. He graduated U-M School of Architecture in 1964 and was in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and sang in the men’s glee club. He became an architectural apprentice for Colvin, Robinson, Wright and Associates then served as Facilities Director of Ann Arbor Public Schools, retiring in 1995. He’s volunteered with First Presbyterian Church as deacon, elder, property committee head, designed several church improvements, including “the French Room” and participated with Mary Ann on a mission to Peru.  He served on the Ann Arbor YMCA Board and has been a Member for Measure Men’s Choral Society, member of Ann Arbor City Club and its grounds committee, supervised the design and construction of renovations and an addition 15 years ago.  He regularly gardens there with Mary Ann.   He and Mary Ann travel extensively visiting every continent, except Antarctica.  Welcome Mary Ann and Bob!

Don Duquette introduced new member and attorney Fanfan Zheng.  Fanfan is a young man of terrific enthusiasm and commitment who will be a great asset to our club.  He was born in Nanjing, China, immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old, grew up in the DC metro area and became a U.S. citizen in 2012.  After college he earned his law degree from Michigan State University and now practices law here specializing in estate planning, family law, commercial law, real estate law and employment law. Fanfan has leadership potential.  He is active and fun to talk with, very gregarious.  When he lived in Jackson, clerking for Judge LaFlamme there, Fanfan joined the Exchange Club and soon became a board member.  He was the “Scribe” (weekly meeting reporter), member of the Golf committee and the scholarship committee.  He was also chair of the social “fun” committee, which was renamed the “Funfun” committee after Fanfan became the leader. Fanfan says he is interested in joining the Rotary for two main reasons: community service and comradeship.  He loves the Rotary motto “Service Above Self”.  He has a passion for community services that are aimed at helping our youth, and in a broad sense, people who lack the ability to help themselves. While clerking for Judge LaFlamme, Fanfan worked on child abuse and neglect cases and saw first-hand the sufferings some children experienced due to actions/inactions of others.  He wants to help our youth directly or by fundraising through charity golf outings, etc. Fanfan seems to be a fun-fun guy.  He is interested in many committees, including Golf and Tennis Outing, DOGS, Rotaract, Bowling (he says modestly – if the committee doesn’t mind a terrible bowler).  Welcome Fanfan!

Eli Savit has joined our club and will be introduced by Dennis Powers at next week’s meeting.

William Porter, Board member the High-Speed Rail Alliance introduced Rick Harnish, Executive Director of the High-Speed Rail Alliance about the “Benefits of High-Speed Rail Transportation in America”.  The east coast train – the Acela – is the fastest train in North America.  Interest in this train line shows the potential for growth in high speed rail.  High-speed rail builds stronger communities, lowers carbon emissions, and reduces government spending.  It is part of a broader network depending on the market that exists.  As trains increase speed fencing is needed along with the following at different speeds: 90mph+ = separate freight tracks; 110mph+ = separate highway crossings; 125mph+ = electrification, 186mph+ = new right-of-way.  There are 3 types of tracks – shared-used (includes passenger & freight), regional (public & frequent passenger trains) & high-speed (passenger-only).  A vision for an integrated network in Michigan was shared which showed the potential lines which could connect 80% of the population. MDOT needs to start planning and making it work.  The Wolverine Corridor and branches should be focused on getting to hourly service.  The state needs to negotiate with CSX to purchase certain lines to make this a reality. There are express trains in Europe that have speeds of 200 mph and passengers can walk around and have food & beverages. Comparison of costs on the west coast:  Cascadia HSR = $42B vs adding 2 lanes to I-5 = $108B and expanding SeaTac airport = $10B.  HSR is much cheaper.  California has been a rail innovator since 1990.  In 2018 California was the first state to implement an integrated rail plan.  An integrated plan drives a huge boost in usage as shown by demand county-to-county in California.  $10B is provided in the proposed federal infrastructure bill.

Next week’s speaker is Mark Volpe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Boston Symphony Orchestra will discuss “A Road Map to Live Orchestral Music in Covidtime”.  Bob Mull will also be talking about VITA.

President Joanne adjourned the meeting at 1:30.

Respectfully submitted by,

Jennifer Fike