Meeting Recap: Feb 24 Columbia Metropolitan Airport

On Monday February 24, 2014, members of Columbia Rotary welcomed Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE).  Rotarian Anne Sinclair introduced Mr. Mann to our Club.

The club first watched a Saturday Night Live spoof on the TSA, which drew a large laugh from the crowd. Mr. Mann talked about the four recent mergers in the airline industry and how it would affect CAE.  During his four years, Mr. Mann has reduced costs at the airport, which was essential into helping the airport grow.  Debt has been reorganized, which has lowered costs in addition to the CAE staff being cut from 120 employees to the current size of 66 (which is industry average for the size of CAE).  Costs per passenger has been lowered from $12 to passenger to $10 per passenger.

$23 million in projects have occurred in the last four years at CAE, and the airport plans to spend $30 million more the next four years.  Currently, the airport is working on a grant for expansion of the John Hardy Expressway.

The Columbia Rotary is thankful to have had Mr. Mann speak at our club.

Sincere thanks to Thomas Anderson for writing the recap this week.

February 24th Meeting and Blood Drive Reminder

Can you believe we had snow and ice on the ground only a week ago?  Hope everyone is enjoying this gorgeous Columbia weather today!  Please make plans to join us on Monday at Rotary.  Dan Mann, Executive Director of Columbia Metropolitan Airport will address the club.

Also, don’t forget to roll up your sleeves for the American Red Cross on Friday, February 28th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center from 7a-5p.  It’s so easy to call and make an appointment so you can give the gift of life.  Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or click here and enter sponsor code FamouslyHot  to schedule your appointment.

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday at Rotary!

Meeting Recap: February 10th Naturalization Ceremony

On Monday February 10, 2014, members of Columbia Rotary witnessed the Naturalization Ceremony of twenty nine (29) individuals from twenty one (21) different countries. The Honorable Joseph Anderson, long-standing member of the club, presided over what was an incredibly poignant ceremony.

As a part of the ceremony, Alex Koutrakos, owner of Grecian Gardens restaurant in Columbia, shared his story of coming to the United States and how to “succeed and progress” in the United States as a new citizen. Koutrakos, originally from Greece, challenged those seeking naturalization to “make friends and help the community,” and he provided his insight on some of the cultural distinctions unique to the United States.

In addition, Sara Svedberg, law clerk for the United States District Court for South Carolina, provided remarks, urging the petitioners to honor the country from which they have departed by making an investment in their new country. Svedberg, originally from Sweden and recently naturalized, personally understood why this was “a day of great emotion.”

Ann Marie Jordan Starks, of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, presented the petitioners as prepared for citizenship stating “character, conduct, and loyalty have been established.” She affirmed that each individual had completed the proper requirements for citizenship.

Each petitioner stood, introduced themselves, and noted the country from which they left to seek United State citizenship. Judge Anderson offered the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance after which the petitioners recited the pledge of allegiance for the first time as United States citizens.

The meeting concluded following the ceremony.

The Columbia Rotary is thankful to have had the unique opportunity to observe and participate in this meaningful program. Columbia Rotary is appreciative to all involved in coordinating this ceremony.

Special thanks to Brandon Smith for providing the meeting recap.

Morning person?? The February Rotary Social is for YOU!

Who:     Early Bird Columbia Rotary Members & Guests


What:    Private Tour of the Gettysburg Exhibit and Continental Breakfast


When:  Wednesday, February 19, 2014   7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.


Where: The Confederate Relic Room @ The SC State Museum located at 301 Gervais Street in the Vista.


Why:     Because it will be FUN!


RSVP:    803-737-8095

Reaction to the Bull Street/Baseball Stadium issue:

A message to the club from Columbia Rotarian Ken Childs:

Thank you for arranging an excellent presentation at Monday’s Rotary meeting on the merit and potential for a minor league baseball park in the Bull Street property development. 

Please notify our membership, by copy of this e-mail, that the Columbia City Council is to receive an update on the plans for the proposed Bull Street property at its meeting this evening.  The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, on the third floor of City Hall, 1737 Main Street.  Hopefully, some of our members will appear and support an imaginative and farsighted development of this property, including the baseball stadium, which will benefit our entire community.  Thank you.


Kenneth L. Childs, Esq. 
Childs & Halligan, P.A.
PO Box 11367
Columbia, SC 29211
(803) 254-4035


If you’d like to weigh in on this issue, you can click here and comment on the Columbia Rotary Facebook Page or you can email your comments to so they can be posted to the website. 

Meeting Recap for Feb 3rd: Jason Freier-Hardball Capital Baseball

President Hal called the meeting to order followed by the pledge of allegiance and the Four Way Test.  Carl Roberts offered the invocation.

President Hal mentioned that since we were offsite that the CART buckets are not on the table, but he expects everyone to double-up next week.

Morgan Harrell welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests of club members.

Donita Todd began Health and Happiness with the news that longtime member Charles Blackmon passed away last week.  She reminded members of the Blood Drive coming up at the Columbia Convention Center on February 28.  With the Olympics less than a week away Donita tossed out several Olympic trivia questions that members eventually answered correctly.

Becky Airheart presented a Paul Harris recognition to Henry McMaster.

Honorary club member Mayor Steve Benjamin introduced our speaker, Jason Freier of Hardball Capital.  Mr. Frier’s topic was “Columbia Ballpark @ Bull Street.”

Mr. Freier outlined how a baseball stadium on the Bull Street property would be beneficial to the city.  Five years ago his firm opened a multi-use stadium in Ft. Wayne, Indiana that has not only brought baseball to the city, but has also spurred development around the stadium.  In addition to the 70 minor league baseball games each year the facility hosts over 330 other events from outdoor concerts to blood drives.  Under the proposal being considered by the city Hardball Capital would manage the facility and cover all operating a capital costs.  The city’s primary expense is the initial cost of the stadium.  Responding to a question about the impact on the Koger Center and Township Auditorium Mr. Freier pointed out that the events they host are frequently not suitable for indoor venues.  For example he pointed out that there are concert tours specifically designed for outdoor venues and cannot be staged at indoor facilities.

President Hal thanked the Mayor and Mr. Frier for providing the club with a comprehensive review of the issues revolving around this important topic.

(Sincere thanks to Rodger Stroup for providing the meeting recap)

Monday, Feb 10th: Rotary is back at Seawell’s.

Monday’s meeting will allow the club to view a Naturalization Ceremony at which 30 applicants for US citizenship who have successfully taken the required courses and passed the required test will take the oath of citizenship, renounce their former citizenship, and officially become US citizens. They represent about 21 foreign countries.  Guest speakers will be naturalized citizens Alex Koutrakos, co-owner of Grecian Garden Restaurant and Sara Svedburg, former news editor for The State newspaper and now a judicial law clerk. US District Judge Joe Anderson will preside.