Meeting in Review: June 18, 2014
President Shaun called the meeting to order at 12:30 pm. Mobile phones were suppressed. He led American members in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Words of inspiration were presented by Kenneth Brown, who quoted Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs urging people to live their own lives, unburdened by the expectations of others.
Secretary Tim Hurd introduced guests of Rotarians:
- Tyisha Cottman, VP, Bank of Georgetown, guest of Lisa McCurdy Atkins
There were no visiting Rotarians from the US or overseas.
Sergeant-at-Arms David Treadwell gave the birthday announcements:\
- Gus Gallagher, June 15. Gus joined our club in 1993 and his sponsor was Jim Magee. His classification is Computers: Multimedia
- Gene Massey, June 15. Gene joined in 1986 and his sponsor was Harry Clarkson. His classification is Law: Health Care.
- Laurie Husak, June 16. Laurie joined in 2011 and her sponsor was Peg Schoen. Her classification is International Development: Information Technology
- Joanne Marx, June 17. She joined the club in 2005 and her sponsor was Cynthia Schultz. Her classification is Energy: International.
- John McGraw, June 17. He joined the club in 1977 and his sponsor was Bill Raiford. His classification is Investments: Counsel.
Ross Grantham took the podium and made a very convincing case for donations to Rotary International, citing as an example a clinic set up to perform corrective surgery for certain women in SE Asia. Moldy rice may cause a folic acid deficiency leading to a particularly disfiguring birth defect that can be fixed by a $500 operation. The Rotary International Foundation has funded this clinic with contributions from a number of clubs, including Washington. Ross made the point that the 100 year old DC club has significant worldwide prestige, leading other clubs to sign on to the projects we back. He urged us to make monthly donations through the credit card system.
President Shaun alerted everyone to mark their calendar for the Changing of the Guard event Saturday, June 28 at the Human Rights Campaign Headquarters. 17th St NW and RI Ave. He mentioned that Erminia Scarcella is having surgery and asked us to remember her in our prayers.
Then Davis Kennedy introduced our speaker, Dan Noble, project manager for the last 7 years of a 20 year project, still ongoing, to clean up after World War One chemical weapons research in Northwest DC. Davis’s newspaper has been covering this story for two decades and he’s familiar with every fact, theory and speculation ever surfaced.
Dan Noble took the floor and turned on the PowerPoint slides for a presentation I’m sure he’s calmly made many times. At the side of the room he had a tabletop full of show-and-tell objects: a mortar and pestle, a small corroded revolver, a horseshoe, an artillery shell, and other products of the $240 million enterprise. This is just one of many “legacy sites” around the country, where noxious reminders of our military and industrial heritage are being flushed from underground lairs. Mr Noble pointed out that it has been almost 100 years since the guns of August announced World War One, causing planners to think that mustard gas and Lewisite might be good things to learn about and possibly employ.
And now, a century later, it is the beginning of the end for the Spring Valley cleanup. We got a hint of the immense paperwork associated with a quarter-billion dollar government effort. We saw slides of timelines, a roadmap of mileposts, and lots of legalistic procedures. But shuffled in were some truly striking images. One, of course, was the pile of old artillery shells turned up by a developer’s backhoe that gave the first hint of a problem. Another was the “Sergeant Maurer photo” found in a grandfather’s archives. Sgt. Maurer is shown in a gas mask tending to a collection of jugs and jerry cans, and on the back the handwriting says he’s in the most fearsome place on the post: “Death Valley”, the “hellhole.” Another showed the farmland that used to be the northern part of DC; trees on the hill framed a bucolic field where a white artillery explosion blossomed like a cherry tree in spring.
Maps displayed the 660 acres involved near Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenue. We heard about 4825 Glenbrook Avenue, now torn down, where air pumps filter the air at great expense, 24/7. In response to a question, Mr Noble said that Johns Hopkins University has studied whether there were any health consequences for the population during the past century, and we could look it up on the website. He was given the tree certificate.
In the raffle, conducted by Buz Gorman, Andy Cook won $23 but could not claim the $435 large pot.
Stu Shalloway and Balraj Gupta staffed the hospitality area.
Dan Kapner and Nobutoshi Hanai were the greeters. The meeting was adjourned at 1:30.