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Marples Creates Music with Woodworking Skills

When you love both music and woodworking, what do you do when you want to slow down your career?  The Doug Marples answer:  Make violins!

When Doug Marples decided it was time to leave his internal medical practice in Garden City in 2005, he enrolled in a school to learn the craft of making violins, violas and cellos. Now he spends his time creating instruments in his shop in west Lawrence.

The process of making a violin, viola, or cello is much the same, Marples explains, although obviously the scale of each type of instrument is different. The first concern in creating a fine instrument is to select high-quality wood and to let it dry and season.

Using the classic Cremonese Method, Marples traces the shape of an instrument that he wants to use as a template and makes a inside mold of walnut. Willow blocks are placed around the mold to which the ribs or sides of very thin maple are glued. A heating iron bends the maple into the curved shapes necessary.

The top and back of an instrument are made from a single piece of wood. Marples splits the wood block and uses a gouge to create the arch in the wood on both the top and the bottom plates.  He then planes the wood to the opportune thickness. Inlay around the edge of the instrument is made of veneer. This purfling reinforces and increases the plates’ flexibility as well as adding visual beauty.

Next, the mold is removed, and the plates are glued to the ribs and blocks. F-holes are carved on either side of the top of the instrument. A sound post is positioned on the treble side of the instrument, and a bass bar supports the the lower strings. Creating the neck, fingerboard, and scroll for the instrument is another a carving job. Their alignment is important to the playability of the instrument. The mortise connects the neck to the body.

Once the instrument is made, Marples applies a gelatin-like sealer made of alum and protein. Then he applies a clear ground varnish of linseed oil and resins and often a colored varnish as well.

Marples says it takes about 4-5 weeks to carve a violin or viola and about twice that long to carve a cello. The varnishing process takes 2 to 3 months, no matter what type of instrument he is making.

Village Pubs in Britain on the Decline

Tom Schmiedeler, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Washburn University. Tom’s interest in historical, environmental, and regional geography led him to a study of “The Decline of the Village Pub in the Garden of England.”

Small pubs have historically been the community meeting place and the identity of a village, Schmiedeler points out. Social connection was the primary reason to go to the pubs; the drinking was secondary.  But over the past fifty years, British and Scottish pubs have been transformed by a number of factors:  Taxes on alcohol have risen, making a pint more and more expensive.  Inexpensive alcohol is available in grocery stores. Drinking and driving laws are now in place and well-enforced. Licensing for pubs has become more difficult and costly.  And the Internet and family commitments keep potential customers at home.


Judge Joseph Pierron and Friend

Honorable G. Joseph Pierron, a fellow Rotarian, Lawrence resident, and native Kansan, has been a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals since 1990.  When he speaks to schools and civic groups, he brings along Spike the Dog to assist him in explaining the court system.

The role of the courts is to interpret the law, Pierron emphasized.  In the Kansas judicial system, there are numerous municipal courts, 79 district/magistrate courts, 167 district courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.  The fourteen judges on the Court of Appeals sit in panels of three to hear about 1600 cases each year. All seven members of the Kansas Supreme Court sit together to hear cases, typically 300 cases each year.

Judge Pierron told the story of the “Kansas Triple Play,” a political manuever in 1956 that allowed incumbant Governor Fred Hall to be named to the Supreme Court.  As a result of that situation, the legislature made a change to the Kansas constitution requiring that an independent panel select three nominees to fill Supreme Court vacancies from which the governor can choose.  The same process was used to select judges for the Court of Appeals until 2016 when the statute was changed to allow the governor to appoint Appellate Court judges without a panel review of candidates.

The criminal incarceration rate in Kansas has risen from 1:1000 in 1960 to 3:1000. Pierron indicated that the reason for the change was tougher law enforcement, especially for drugs and child abuse.  Mandatory sentencing has not been issue in Kansas, according to Pierron.  Kansas recently won an award for reducing the backlog of cases in the courts.

Judges are advocating for higher pay for the 1,600 non-judicial personnel supporting the courts in Kansas.  Although pay for judges is also extremely low compared to national averages, the immediate need is to hire and retain well-qualified people in support roles.

Caddy Stacks Fun!

Lawrence Central Rotarians Jim Peters and Kate Campbell clowned around the Rotary mini-golf hole at the opening event for Caddy Stacks. Caddy Stacks is a bi-annual fundraising event for the Lawrence Public Library. The hole was decorated to represent the Rotary Arboretum as a “Wonder of Lawrence .”

Earlier in the evening, Jim and Lee Anne Thompson listened to opening remarks at the party. Jim, Lee Anne, Fred Atchison and Jay Holley assisted with the design of the hole and the set up.

Other club members met this young golfer when they manned the hole during the weekend hours to distribute information about Lawrence Kids Calendar.  The Lawrence Kids Calendar donated calendar publicity to the project.

Kelley Hunt Inspires Singing!

Kelley Hunt got Lawrence Central Rotarians on their feet and singing!  Her encouragement and the lyric “We let the light shine over us” inspired members to join the chorus. Hunt also peformed the title song from her most recent of six recordings, “Beautiful Bones.”

Hunt’s website describes her sound as a “refined blend of blues, soul, and R&B and root music.” A singer and songwriter, piano player and guitarist, Hunt was born in Kansas City and earned a degree in music from KU.  Although she considers Lawrence as her home base, her band comes out of Chicago, and she tours and performs all over the country. Hunt will perform at the Cider Gallery on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Hunt described being fascinated with the piano as a child even before she could see the keys.  Her mother always listened to her compositions and admonished her to think for herself in the face of setbacks and criticisms. Hunt’s success in a male-dominated industry comes from the self-assurance that that encouragement bred into her. As Hunt says, I was willing to “show up as who I am.”


Masks: Mystery and Beauty

Carla Hanson, curator of a traveling exhibit called “Spirit of the Mask,” shared her collection of masks and their stories. Masks can cover the face, head, and even the entire body, as demonstrated below by Rotarians Bob Swan and Jim Peters as they tried on masks and garments associated with the plague in medieval Europe. Created using all types of materials, masks play a role in dance forms, storytelling, ritual, and celebration.

Hanson’s collection includes masks from more than 45 countries and cultures of the world. She brought examples from Native American tribes, Peru, Nigerian, Guatemala, Tibet, Bali, Russia, and more. Many were renderings of animals, reptiles, or the faces of spirits. In addition, there were Santa Claus costumes and Halloween masks familiar in the United State and a mask of a “nisse,” a white-bearded creature from Nordic folklore.

Hanson will be teaching a course about masks for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Olathe and in Kansas City this spring .

Focus on Rotary Foundation

LCR member Janis Bunker is a passionate advocate for PolioPlus, Rotary Foundation’s drive to eradicate polio in the world.  When she attended the 2017 Rotary International conference in Atlanta last June, she joined roundtable discussions about the effort. Beginning in 1979. Rotary International began its fight against polio with a multi-year project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Over the past decades, Rotary has partnered with the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund and implement the project.

Today, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the only countries where polio remains endemic. Although there were only 17 cases reported during 2017, work to ensure that the virus does not emerge once again will continue for ten years after the last case is reported.  Even as monitoring for new cases continues, the infrastructure of laboratories and immunization clinics works to manage outbreaks of new diseases in the world.

Michael Steinle, chair of the Foundation Committee for Lawrence Central Rotary, outlined the six areas of focus that define the work of Rotary Foundation.  They are (1) promoting peace; (2) fighting disease; (3) providing clean water, sanitation, and hygience; (4) saving mothers and children, (5) supporting education; and (6) growing local economies.  Contributions to the Foundation support projects aimed at these initiatives.  The Foundation is proud to be known for delivering 91% of each contribution dollar to help these efforts.


Buy A Wreath – Make a Difference – Order Holiday wreaths & decorations now from Lawrence Central

Lawrence Central continues our annual fundraiser for the work we do every year. As in year’s past, we will be selling wreaths and other holiday decorations from Lynch Creek Farms and in Lawrence Central’s partnership with them, we receive 20% back from every sale to help fund the service projects we do.  Some examples of our service activities include:

We want to continue to do this work and more with help from you and all you need to do is simply purchase holiday decorations. You can do this by talking to any of our members or there’s an even easier way – visit our Lynch Creek fundraising website, peruse what they have, an order yourself!  We’ve even set up an easy link:


If you’re not comfortable with ordering online we totally understand – you can also call Lynch Creek direct toll-free at 1-888-426-0781 and please Lawrence Central Rotary Fundraiser #100925.

Lynch Creek is a family business that started in 1980, now transformed from selling a few flowers and vegetables at the local farmers’ market on the weekends, to a full-blown year-round business that ships throughout the United States.

We could go on about how great these wreaths are, but when we were at the Lawrence Rotary Club recently,  Jennifer Berquist stopped us and told us this,

“Last year, for the first time, I purchased several Lynch Creek items as holiday gifts. Those who received the evergreen gifts were so pleased and impressed with the quality. It is a huge seller for me that the Lawrence Central Rotary Club receives part of the profits. I will definitely place another order this year!” – Jennifer Berquist – Lawrence, KS 

Lynch Creek Farms have been amazing to work with and they care about the groups that sell their wreaths and decorations. Here’s a video about the business.

Kressig and LaClair Welcomed into LCR

Kevin Kressig and Chip LaClair are new members of Lawrence Central Rotary.  President Fred Atchison inducted the two during the November 30 club meeting.  Sponsors Steve Lane and Jim Evers participated in the ceremony.

Standing left to right in the photograph:  Atchison, Lane, Kressig, LaClair, and Evers

Ramsdell and Meyer Inducted into LCR

Bob Ramsdell (left) and Kade Meyer (right) were inducted into Lawrence Central Rotary on Wednesday, November 15.  After the brief ceremony, President Fred Atchison asked both men to tell the group more about themselves.

Bob Ramsdell said that before earning a law degree at KU, he spent 21 years as an artillery officer in the Army.  He then worked eighteen years in a local law partnership.  In July 2017, Bob set up a solo law practice in Lawrence focusing on estate planning, probate, trusts, wills, and elder law.  He and his wife are originally from Maryland; they have two adult children who live in the area.  Bob was drawn to Rotary because he has many friends who have been involved in the organization.  He selected Lawrence Central Rotary Club because it is small enough for friendships and big enough to get things done.  In his free time Bob likes to read history and biography and enjoys photography.

After a six-year stint in the Army Reserves, Kade Meyer returned to Topeka where he and his two siblings had grown up.  He followed his father’s lead into the insurance industry and currently works as an insurance account representative in Lawrence, specializing in life insurance.  As Kade launches himself professionally, he knows he needs to connect to the community.  Joining a Rotary club has been an ideal way to do so, but he has also gotten involved with a number of other groups and initiatives in both Lawrence and Topeka.  Kade chuckles as he acknowledges he chose Lawrence Central Rotary because of our reputation as “the fun group.”  In his free time, Kade enjoys listening to podcasts and to a variety of other media.

What’s Up at Watkins Museum of History?

In addition to the core exhibits about Douglas County history on display at Watkins Museum, such as this 1870s playhouse, there is always something new to see, according to Steve Nowak, Executive Director.

Sometimes the “new” is an addition to an existing exhibit. For example, the story of Lawrence’s efforts to establish a Fair Housing Ordinance in the 1960’s has been added to the “Enduring Struggles—Lawrence Fights for Change.” Documents, music, photographs, artifacts, and oral histories combine in an interactive display highlighting Lawrence’s spirit of activism and community spirit in various decades.

Changing exhibits can focus attention on a particular aspect of local history. For example, “Community and Culture: the Lawrence Turnverein” tells the story of the Germans who were among the earliest settlers in Lawrence.

“Hidden Treasures: Staff Favorites from the Watkins Collection” showcases artifacts in new ways.  Find a cowboy hat signed by John Wayne and a sculpture made of the soles of shoes, as well as other treasures.

“Mass St. Magic—Weaver’s Window Displays” celebrates the 160th anniversary of the local department store by recreating some of the window displays it featured over the years. Founded in 1857, Weaver’s is one of the longest running department stores in the United States. Even in 1850’s, it was known to bring NYC fashion to Lawrence.

On Saturday, December 2, the museum will host “Tails and Traditions Holiday Festival.” Stop by between 9 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. for prime horse parade-viewing spots, snacks, kids’ crafts and games, and live holiday music. The Watkins Museum of History hosted 17,500 visitors in 2017, up from 6,000 seven years ago when Nowak began his tenure.

Lawrence Rotary Arboretum awarded Level I accreditation by ArbNet

The City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department’s Lawrence Rotary Arboretum that is maintained by local Rotarians and the Lawrence Parks and District Department has been awarded a Level I Accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and the Morton Arboretum, for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens.

The ArbNet accreditation program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism. The Lawrence Rotary Arboretum is now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

The Lawrence Rotary Arboretum was conceived in 2003 and dedicated in 2005 as a project by the three local Rotary Clubs in Lawrence, the Lawrence Rotary Club, the Jayhawk Breakfast Rotary Club and the Central Rotary Club as a fundraising activity to commemorate the centennial of Rotary International. Funds raised went toward the waterfront gazebo.  The arboretum began development with the addition of new trees having identification markers which detailed the scientific name of the tree.  Gardens were also added, including a certified Monarch Watch waystation, providing habitat for butterflies.

Additional projects such as a performance stage, bike path rest station, and Westar Pergola were completed by local scout troops and other volunteer groups.

Recently, an inventory of trees was developed through the department’s use of TreeWorks mapping software and using GIS to develop an interactive storyboard.  The storyboard creates a self-guided tour of the arboretum, detailing trees planted within the arboretum with photos and common and scientific names of each species of trees via the internet. It can also be helpful to those visiting the park and can pull up the site on a mobile device. To visit the ESRI storyboard of the Lawrence Rotary Arboretum, please visit: http://lawks.us/2xCmOih.

ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their instructional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. The accreditation program is sponsored and coordinated by the Morton Arboretum, in cooperation with the American Public Gardens Association. and the Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The program offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity, and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting and conservation. You can find more information about ArbNet at www.arbnet.org.

For more information, please contact Crystal Miles, horticulture, and forestry manager, at (785) 832-7970.

Rotary Cares about Environmental Change

Rick Randolph, M.D., knows first-hand about the impacts that changes in the environment are having on people around the world.  As a long-time volunteer and now a staff member of Heart to Heart International, he has worked in developing countries for 25 years.  Randolph recently returned from assisting with Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

Environmental events profoundly effect the way people live.  Floods are caused by hurricanes. Mud-covered roads are caused by trees uprooted or swept away in storms. Mosquito-born illnesses occur more frequent in warming regions of the world. Infectious disease rises, the cause of 90% of deaths during draught and food shortages. Diseases such as Ebola arise when humans use slash-and-burn agriculture and move to live on formerly-forested land that exposes them to fruitbats and monkeys. Increases in asthma, emphysema, heart disease, and bronchitis are linked to air pollution. Thermal expansion of the oceans is predicted to cause sea levels to rise three feet by the year 2100, threatening military installations located on the coasts of the United States.  Even civil war often has roots in the environments as draught and famine force people to migrate from farms to cities that become over-crowded and poverty-stricken.

Rotary Interantional President Ian H.S. Riseley envisions Rotarians “Making a Difference” during the coming year.  He urges that each club plant a tree for every Rotarian during the next twelve months and to include sustainability objectives in each project proposal.


Boys and Girls Club Provides “Great Futures”

Megan Hill, Major Gifts Officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, highlighted a robust history and a “great future” fof the organization.

She described the new Don and Beverly Gardner Center for Great Futures that will open in the fall of 2018 to house teen activities, replacing the small Teen Center on Haskell Avenue. Situated adjacent to the College and Career Center in southeast Lawrence, the new building will allow the school district and the Boys and Girls Club to share and maximize the spaces of each facility. The new construction includes a gymnasium, maker-space, performing arts area, a culinary arts kitchen, admininstrative offices, and classrooms. Although they have raised most of the $4.25 million capital campaign goal, fundraising will continue to complete capital donations and to raise on-going money for programming.

The local club is one of the largest per capita in the country, serving 1,500 young people each day. It partners with the Lawrence school district to provide after-school programming in all fourteen elementary schools in Lawrence. Middle school and high school students are bussed to the Teen Center on Haskell Avenue. All programming supports academic success, healthy living, and character and citizenship, fulfilling the organization’s mission: “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Hill asked Rotarians to explain how Boys and Girls Club had impacted their households. The responses from the group echoed the reasons why others say the program is so valuable: supervision after the school day when working parents cannot be at home; tutoring and help with homework; physical activity and good nutrition; welcoming friends, mentors, and tutors.


DG Adam Ehlert Is Committed to Making a Difference

During his year as District Governor, Adam Ehlert wants to encourage healthy clubs that are engaged and enthusiastic about “Making a Difference,” the Rotary International theme for 2017-2018. The motto “defines what we do day in and day out.” Such energy will attract additional members better than any membership drive, he believes.

Ehlert’s “Rotary moment” struck during a Group Study Exchange that he led to Finland during 2011. His team bonded after an evening of “ice swimming”—repeated trips between a steamy sauna and a icy river nearby.  The experience is the epitome of local culture. As the GSE team members huddled in comradery, wet and exhilarated, after several hours of the activity, the group spontaneously voiced heartfelt thanks to Rotary and to their hosts for the powerful impact of international exchange. The emotional situation committed Ehlert even more deeply to Rotary and its work and led him to his current leadership role.