Volume XII, Issue 13: October 4, 2013

Alex in the Bay Area

The Latest from Alex
Last Friday, President Jessica posted photos of our Rotary Exchange Student from France, Alex Rialet, in his roles as a football player for Arcata High School, and as a member of the Baciagaluppi Family, mowing the lawn the previous Sunday. Alex said that he had participated in last week’s information meeting at AHS for potential Rotary Exchangers. He shared his experiences with the students, to help give them an idea of what to expect.

Alex said that was looking forward to the AHS Homecoming, both the parade that afternoon and the game later that evening. He was also anticipating the weekend trip to San Francisco, with his fellow Exchangers from throughout our Rotary District.

Jessica asked him whether students in France have “dress-up days like they do here”, but Alex said that they don’t. They concluded that they just don’t have as much fun.

President Jessica reminded us that the Backpacks for Kids program is underway, and invited us to help even if we haven’t signed up. The program will continue throughout the school year, so please lend a hand.

Our third SWOT Extreme Makeover will take place this weekend. We will be doing some major renovations for the Boys and Girls Club of the Redwoods in Eureka, with the support and assistance from the Old Town Eureka Rotary, the Arcata (Noon) Rotary , the Southwest Eureka Rotary, the Eureka Rotary, and the Fortuna Sunrise Rotary. In addition, we will be joined by the Lost Coast Rotaract Club, the North Bay Rotaract Club, the Northcoast Kiwanis, and the McKinleyville Kiwanis! The project will include (among other things) painting, replacing the lawn, remodels of the kitchen and the bathrooms, replacing raised beds in the garden, and building a new sandbox. The Makeover will start Friday, October 11th, and will go through the weekend. Please sign up for a shift or two on SignUpGenius if you can, and please come to the Reveal Party, which will take place next Tuesday (October 15th) at 3 PM!

Tickets and flyers are available for a Taste of the Holidays, affectionately known as TOTH. The event is just over a month away, and we want to have a packed house. Signups for the various tasks will be available soon. This is one of our few “all-hands” events, so be sure that you have Thursday, November 21st blocked of on your calendar.

District 5130 will once again hold two Foundation Dinners in November – the first Saturday of that month will see the Foundation Dinner South, which will take place at Sally Tomatoes in Rohnert Park. It’s Northern counterpart will take place the following Saturday (November 9th) at the River Lodge in Fortuna. Visit the District website to register for either or both. The events provide an opportunity for the Rotarians of our District to celebrate our contributions to the Rotary Foundation.

The Real Kraft Talk
We were treated to two Craft Talks last Friday, but we were told by Maggie Kraft that hers was “the only real Kraft Talk you’re ever gonna get”.  Maggie became an Honorary Member of our Club before she began an assignment with the Peace Corps in Botswana. While she was there, she was inducted as a member of a Rotary Club. Upon her return to our community, she joined our Club as a regular member.

Maggie was born in San Francisco and raised in Palo Alto. Her parents were from the East Coast, and they (and Maggie) had to learn how to speak “Californian”. Maggie was in the middle of five children in her family. She had two older brothers, one younger brother, and a younger sister. One of their favorite family activities was playing poker. Since both parents are attorneys, a given hand would often involve arguing your case for winning. It must have provided good training, since two of Maggie’s siblings also became attorneys. “The other three of us,” she said, “just acted like we were.”

Maggie herself almost went to law school, but she went instead to UC Santa Cruz, where she received her bachelors degree in Psychology. She followed that by earning her masters in social work in Sacramento.

She moved to Humboldt County 25 years ago to work for the ombudsman program, and she has worked in the senior services field ever since. She worked for the Senior Resource Center for many years, and she helped create the Alzheimers Resource Center. She headed up the staff there, until she left to join the Peace Corps. Maggie joined the Peace Corps because she felt that she needed a break, although her work in Botswana was intense as well. “Maybe,” she said, “I’ll come back as a cat in my next life. That would be fair.” As a Peace Corps volunteer, Maggie worked with groups of disabled persons

She likes “traveling and eating, which means that I need to exercise more”. She also shared some other news, but since she hadn’t told her sister yet, I won’t reveal it here. You’ll have to check with her …

The Jeff Talk?
Our other Craft Talker last Friday was Jeff Stebbins, who told us that he was raised in Arcata. As he grew up, he split his time between Arcata and his parents’ ranch in Kneeland. Jeff graduated from Arcata High School in 1986, then attended Humboldt State, where he earned his bachelors degree in Business Administration. He also became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

His work history began when he worked for his father, who managed rentals. Following a fire in one of the houses, Jeff helped to clean it. He said that he came home each day, covered in soot. While he was attending HSU, Jeff was involved in a fender bender that required him to make some money to pay for the repairs to his car and to the car he hit. He took a semester off and moved to Park City, Utah, where he began a series of jobs that related to outdoor sports. 

When Jeff returned to Humboldt County, he found that he liked the idea of making money, so he began working at Yakima, on their night shift. He found that he really enjoyed mountain biking, and he moved back to the high country – Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He was hired by a company called Justus of Steamboat, which had retail stores in many far-flung locations. Jeff was flung to several of those in Michigan, Utah, and Colorado before he decided that he wanted a more permanent home.

He moved to Seattle and began working for Emeritus Assisted Living as their Network Administrator. After three years of working 12 to 16 hours per day, he started his own business – Stebbins Consulting. His clients included several wineries.

While living in Seattle, Jeff met his bride-to-be, Rachel Chandler. They were married in 1997, and they now have two daughters – Adora, who is 14 years old, and Ayla, who is 10.

Tomas Chavez led our recognitions last Friday, and he talked about Cam Appleton’s busy summer. Cam did a lot of fishing, but he made time for a former Rotary Exchange Student and his family.  Mauricio Mayeya Lopez, his wife America, and their daughter Erica were visiting Sunriser Harry Johnson, and Cam snagged them for dinner while they were here. Cam has been spending a lot of time working on the new station for the Fieldbrook Volunteer Fire Department.

Tomas then asked Mark Burtchett to tell us about his recent visit to Croatia. Mark said that he and his wife Cammy spent a couple of weeks touring the country, on what was billed as a bicycle/boat trip. Although it was not the reason for the trip, their anniversary fell amid the journey, and they celebrated with 30 or so of their boating companions. Mark said that he has also spent a lot of time at Trinity Lake with his family, including his grandchildren. He and his son also won a recent golf tournament at Baywood Country Club.

We then saw a photo of a band from the 80s. It wasn’t Depeche Mode or Culture Club, but it did feature Future Sunriser Gregg Foster on bass guitar. We are not worthy!!

About the Mad River Alliance
Friday’s Featured Speaker was Dave Feral, the Executive Director of the Mad River Alliance. Dave grew up in Sonoma County, and he said that his “backyard” was Sonoma Creek. He would often head out into the natural setting right after breakfast. His family moved to Petaluma, and Dave attended Casa Grande High School, where he “majored in woodshop and high school football”. One of his classes was a forestry and wildlife class, and Dave asked the teacher if the class could adopt a local creek that had seen better days. The idea caught on, and Dave was inspired.

Dave earned his teaching credential at Sonoma State, and he went on to teach science in the Bay Area. He carried his experience in helping to rehab the damaged creek in Petaluma with him, and he developed a curriculum to help other schools start similar projects. Ultimately, he came to Humboldt State and in 2001, he earned his masters degree.

While in Humboldt County, Dave fell in love with the Mad River. This river, he told us, is 100 miles long from its source to the sea, it covers an area of approximately 500 square miles, and it has 40 mapped tributaries. It provides the drinking water for about 80,000 people, and it is home to over 20 fish species. Unfortunately, it is also suffering, and it has been suffering for quite a while.

By the 1920s, a decline was noticed in the Mad River’s fish population, and that decline continues. In 1937, Sweasey Dam was built northeast of Kneeland, and it was poorly designed. It had filled with silt by 1942, and it was removed in 1970. In 1961, the R.W. Matthews Dam was constructed. This is the dam that formed Ruth Lake. Dave said that a lot more thought went into the site selection and construction process. The reservoir provides water for the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

Dave Feral

In 1992, the federal Environmental Protection Agency listed the Mad River as “sediment-impaired”. This is a form of pollution that can severely impact fish and other aquatic life. It often contributes to a rise in water temperatures. The Mad was listed in 2006 as “temperature-impaired”, due to the decrease in average water depth.

Dave formed the Mad River Alliance on June 6, 2011, emulating the structures of organizations with similar conservation goals, such as the Friends of the Eel River. The founders interviewed members of the community, held strategic planning sessions, and began an ongoing process of education and outreach. River cleanup events have been held and there will be more to come.

In early 2014, the group will host a Steelhead Derby. The event will kickoff on Friday, January 24th with a Block Party in Blue Lake. On Saturday, February 1st, they will hold a Kids Day, featuring a Casting Contest. Finally, on Saturday, February 8th, the two-week derby will end, with an Awards Dinner. The whole event will feature “fishing, feasting, and live music”.

For more information, visit the group’s website at madriveralliance.org or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/madriveralliance.