Washington Visit


Washington Visit

The northeastern most club in Rotary District 5670, the Rotary club of Washington, Kansas is led this year by local county attorney and mother of three, Libby Bakerville Hiltgen.  I was also hosted by local optometrist Larry Stoppel, who gave me a delightful insiders tour of the city.

Our first stop was KSDS, a unique dog-training center for social and service dogs. Their mission, "change lives one dog at a time." The nonprofit center was started by local Rotarian Bill Avery, and continues to be supported by the local Rotary club.  KSDS has placed over 500 trained Labradors or golden retrievers for handicapped or blind people at NO charge to the person over the past 24 years.

Next, another one of Kansas "8 natural wonders," a pie making shop of all things.Marcon, owned by Don Walsh, makes between 500 and 2000, yes up to 2000, pies per day that are shipped all over the world. Marcon employs about 15 people...as I consider my self a "pie expert," I can attest first hand this is a "little slice of heaven!" (
sales@marconoies.com for a great personal, unique gift).

Bradford Built, Inc is another example of a true American pioneer spirit.  While Brad Porteneir was recovering from a major car accident and spinal fusion, he started tinkering in his garage with manufacturing truck beds.  He could only work an hour or so at a time, so he figured he best work out of his home.  Today, using state of the art high tech lazes and lathes, Bradford built, Inc employs over a 100 people and has made over 50,000 truck beds.  Brad remains a great community leader and continues to spawn more businesses.   He manufactured the Rotary Centennial Washington monument replica tower that sets at the county airport entry.  I loved getting to see Brad's shop as he shared his passion for his work and community.

Finally, I got to visit the "Ruckus Greyhound Kennel," which is owned and operated by long time Rotarians, Dr. Jim (veterinarian) and B.J.  Smart.  Over the past several years, Jim and B.J. have given all the earnings from "Gwynn of Ruckus" to the local club, over $10,000.  These funds have helped support many of the clubs local service projects, including KSDS (described above), baseball, softball, back pack snack for youth, scouts, and scholarships.

Rotary club of Washington, thanks for a great visit, for sharing your community with me, and for all you do to SERVE your community.