Rotary Club of West Seattle – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 01:30:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 CONGRATULATIONS! Rotary Club of West Seattle scholarships for 6 local students Wed, 06 Jun 2018 07:09:04 +0000
(Rotary photo: From left, Garbriella Rackner, Daniela Hernandez, Marcus Evans, Suscha Walker, Emily Mills; Maria DiFores)

Announced Tuesday night by the Rotary Club of West Seattle:

The Rotary Club of West Seattle awarded $19,200 in scholarships to six West Seattle students on June 5th. The monies came from two scholarship funds: Student of the Year and Gambriell.

The Student of the Year scholarship is available to students who have been Students of the Month in the immediately preceding academic year.

Students of the Month is a program which honors outstanding students in West Seattle high-school programs. Each month of the academic year, all five participating school programs name a student who is worthy of recognition.

Those students, along with a school counselor, family members, and others important in the student’s life, are invited to be guests at the noon luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of West Seattle held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Alki Masonic Center.

At that meeting, each student gives a short talk about his or her accomplishments and aspirations and receives a packet of information and gifts from the club. Students of the Month are encouraged to apply for Student of the Year scholarships.

The high-school programs responsible for the selection of the students are Chief Sealth International High School, Career Link/Alternative High Schools, Seattle Lutheran High School, West Seattle High School and Southwest Youth and Family Services.

Students of the Year for 2018 are Maria DiFores from Career Link, Emily Mills also from Career Link, Daniela Hernandez from Seattle Lutheran, and Garbriella Rackner.

The Gambriell Scholarship can be awarded to any student in Seattle, but preference is given to those who reside in West Seattle and those who would not be able to attend college or further their education without the scholarship. Variable amounts are awarded each year, depending on how many students apply.

Gambriell Scholarship recipients for 2018 are Marcus Evans from Chief Sealth, Emily Mills from Career Link and Suscha Walker, second-year student at the University of Washington.

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SATURDAY: West Seattle Rotary continues 70th-anniversary celebration with wine pop-up Wed, 16 May 2018 16:20:07 +0000 (Photos displayed at West Seattle Rotary 70th anniversary lunch last November)

On Saturday, you’re invited to join the Rotary Club of West Seattle in a celebration that will cap the club’s 70th-anniversary festivities, a pop-up celebration of wine:

The Rotary Club of West Seattle will hold the culminating event of its 70th Anniversary Year Saturday, May 19th, at the Alki Masonic Center (4736 40th Ave SW) from 4 – 6:30 pm.

You’re invited for:

Wine tastings from local wineries.
Heavy appetizers served.
Wine & wine-related items for auction and for sale.
West Seattle Rotarians free admission; Guests $10 donation

WS Rotary 70th Anniversary Commemorative glasses will be given to the first 100 guests. Included in the auction/raffle are the following:

3L 2015 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon, etched and signed by winemaker and Drew Bledsoe (retail value w/o signatures: $540)

3L 2014 Fidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon, signed by owner/winemaker Charlie Hoppes

Wineries participating include Icy Road Vineyards, Bledsoe and DoubleBack Wineries (Walla Walla), Fidelitas Wines (Woodinville), and West Seattle’s Viscon Cellars.

The event will be an opportunity to taste numerous excellent Washington wines and to learn about the Rotary Club of West Seattle.

The celebrating began at a lunch last fall – here’s our coverage.

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COMMUNITY GIVING: West Seattle Rotarians’ morning at Rotary Viewpoint Park Sun, 01 Apr 2018 03:46:38 +0000

Thanks to Martha Sidlo from the Rotary Club of West Seattle for the photos and report:

This morning, several West Seattle Rotarians held a landscaping cleanup at the Rotary totem pole park on 35th Avenue SW, next to the golf course. [Read the park and pole’s history here.]

Seattle Parks and Recreation helped by providing tools and wood chips for the project.

Thanks to everyone who’s been sharing their stories of community cleanups and other projects! any time.

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CONGRATULATIONS! 2 local students win Rotary Club scholarships for leadership training Thu, 08 Feb 2018 17:22:50 +0000 Just announced:

The Rotary Club of West Seattle is pleased to announce the selection of two West Seattle students to receive scholarships to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (“RYLA”) from March 15-18,2018 at Pacific Lutheran University.

The scholarship recipients are:

Konrad Gerhardt, son of Roxanne and Jon Gerhardt of West Seattle, is a sophomore at O’Dea High School, where he is the House Captain of Limerick Sophomore House and a member of the O’Dea Lacrosse team. Konrad is also an Adventure Scout and completed the high adventure trek at Philmont Scout Ranch last summer.

Zach Carver, son of Lars and Allison Carver of West Seattle, is a sophomore at Seattle Lutheran High School, where he is Sophomore Class Vice President and was honored as the 2nd Team All-League selection in football as a running back. Zach loves creative writing and making music.

RYLA is an intensive leadership training program for sophomore and junior students selected by their Rotary Clubs from Rotary Districts 5020 and 5030, encompassing the metropolitan Seattle area, Pierce County, Vancouver Island, and the Olympic Peninsula. We congratulate our scholarship recipients.

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West Seattle Rotary and hundreds of helpers give the gifts of fun and warmth @ Children’s Shopping Spree Sun, 03 Dec 2017 00:15:29 +0000 (WSB photos/video)

Still think Santa Claus just shows up in the middle of the night? On this day every year – the first Saturday in December – hundreds of Santas rise very early, not to drop off gifts and fly away, but to escort local kids through a wonderland of dining and shopping, during the Rotary Club of West Seattle-organized Children’s Shopping Spree.

Southcenter Mall was the location again this year, since it has the nearest Sears, fourth Shopping Spree since the old location in SODO closed. Organizers and volunteers gathered long before dawn, getting their instructions from Rotarian Josh Sutton:

They cheered for each group of kids arriving on school buses from West Seattle:

Pairs of volunteers are matched with kids:

And it’s off to breakfast:

Some shopping happens inside Sears.

Some, at tables stacked with socks and coats:

The gifts are bought via Rotary donations and fundraisers. And the time given by members and volunteers is priceless. Some of the groups represented this morning included Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Kappa Alpha Psi, Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Upsilon Omega, Omega Delta Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, and UW Rotaract. Even Seattle Lutheran High School basketball players!

And as noted on the Rotary page featuring the history of the Shopping Spree – which goes back 45 years! – school administrators and counselors are a big part of the morning’s success too. Schools represented this year included Lafayette, Roxhill, Concord, Genesee Hill elementaries, and Pathfinder K-8.

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VIDEO: Rotary Club of West Seattle celebrates 70th anniversary Wed, 08 Nov 2017 02:20:48 +0000

By Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

The Rotary Club of West Seattle‘s weekly meeting today wasn’t just a luncheon, it was a party – 70th-anniversary party, to be specific.

The club was chartered in November 1947.

(King County Executive Dow Constantine and West Seattle Rotary President Brian Waid)

One of the club’s most prominent members, King County Executive Dow Constantine – who’s on today’s ballot, running for a third term – read a proclamation declaring this “Rotary Club of West Seattle’s 70th Anniversary Day” in King County, and urged all in King County to thank the club for its seven decades of service:

The club currently meets at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction, and according to the around-the-room introductions, today’s celebration drew guests including representatives of other Rotary Clubs around the area as well as former members.

(Clay Eals with Rotarian Gary Potter)

Featured speaker was Clay Eals, a journalist, author, historian, community advocate, and more, who recently left as executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.

“People keep asking me what retirement is like, and I’m not quite sure yet,” he joked, shortly before declaring that “West Seattle is the best Seattle,” though he admitted growing up on Mercer Island – not in a mansion, but in a 3-bedroom rambler. His mom, though, grew up “across the street from the wading pool at Hiawatha.”

He shared stories told by his mom, including memories of “dancing the cake walk on the stage of the old Portola Theater” and of walking the peninsula in part “to amuse herself.” That included walks down Fairmount Ravine, to Harbor Avenue, around Duwamish Head, to Alki Point, then down to Lincoln Park, and “back up California Avenue to come home.”

That underscores West Seattle’s geography as a peninsula, which, while we’re a part of the city, we are also “apart from the city.” It’s like looking at the back of your right hand, and West Seattle is the thumb.

Because of that, the construction of the “high bridge” was the biggest local story ever. Before that, West Seattle had two bascule bridges – one that went in in 1923, one in 1930. “Each one was four lanes, and they for a long time had streetcars going across. … We had these great bridges but they opened for ship traffic.”

By 1978, people were so frustrated there was a half-serious movement to secede from the rest of the city. If it had done so, it would have been the fifth largest city in the state. People figured if they did that, Eals explained, that they then could at least go to Olympia to campaign for a better bridge, between the largest and fifth-largest cities in the state. Supporters got half the signatures they needed by the time – “the best pun in West Seattle history,” as Eals explained, “the ship hit the span.” That’s the famous tale of how a freighter ran into the open bridge and it was stuck open. “We went from eight lanes to four lanes and that was the emergency that prompted the construction of our high bridge.”

The eastbound lanes opened in November of 1983, the westbound lanes in July 1984. “Think of the symbolism of a bridge – a bridge brings people together .. some would say (now) that it’s brought too many people together.” He brought a page from a mid-’80s special section in the West Seattle Herald, the newspaper he edited at the time, headed “The Secret Is Out.”

(Photos displayed at today’s lunch)

He segued to the Rotary Club’s history, including the 1976 installation of the Totem Pole across the street from what at the time was the office of the newspaper he ran, and thanked the club – which now presents the Grand Parade – for honoring him with the Orville Rummel Trophy for Outstanding Service to the Community last year. He recounted the long list of volunteerism and donations that the club has made, as well as what its parent club does internationally. And the seeds it planted – starting Rotary Clubs in Burien, White Center, and SODO, among other places.

Eals recalled some past and present West Seattle legends, including (from the former category) Normie Beers and Earl Cruzen (whose widow Ada Cruzen was in attendance). And of course, speaking of the aforementioned Totem Pole, he noted what he described as one of West Seattle’s greatest capers of all time, its 2009 theft, recovery, and 2010 restoration, and how it brought the community together.

He issued the club an anniversary challenge: “To build upon your sterling foundation and to record your club’s stories while you can.” He quoted Steve Goodman, the musician whose biography he wrote, saying, “You’d better get it while you can” – not “get” as in obtain, but “get it” as in understand. Getting those stories on record could just be a matter of taking a few minutes at each meeting – “you’re doing it not just for yourselves but for the future club members you don’t even know yet … As these stories build up, you will see common threads .. (that) build a better club and build a better West Seattle community.” Even the act of gathering for a lunch like this is “increasingly rare,” he said – if everyone in the room wasn’t there, they would be doubtless “staring at a piece of plastic.” He lauded “the original social media – face to face,” adding, “We’re not meant to be hermits … we’re meant to connect with each other.”

And: “It all comes down to gratitude.” That includes gratitude for what others built before us, and “when we spend time to honor our past … we give vision and passion to our future.”

Speaking of the future: The next big event for the Rotary Club of West Seattle is its annual Christmas Shopping Spree (here’s our coverage from last year), on December 2nd, again this year at Southcenter Sears, with students from local schools arriving via bus early in the morning to shop, dine, and even meet Santa. That’s just one of multiple community-service projects the club is involved with throughout the year.

WS Rotary president Brian Waid said the event costs $140 per child – so a $125 donation to the Rotary Service Foundation will sponsor a child at the event. The club also signs up volunteers to help at the event (there’s a link on its home page) – you don’t have to be a member, Gary Potter of Potter Construction (WSB sponsor) said.

The Rotary Club of West Seattle meets weekly at lunchtime at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction – find out about membership at

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Free training for teen leaders! Rotary Club of West Seattle accepting applicants Sun, 29 Jan 2017 20:07:05 +0000 If you are, or know, a 10th- or 11th-grader who’s interested in leadership in their school and community – here’s a chance for free training. The Rotary Club of West Seattle is accepting applications for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, which covers the costs of an annual seminar March 16-19 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, described as “taught by leadership experts and directed at teens in high school. Fully chaperoned, meals included. … Great addition to a college application.” For questions and/or an application, e-mail West Seattle Rotary president Dr. Susanne Gee at

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VIDEO: Early Christmas for kids at West Seattle Rotary’s annual Shopping Spree Sat, 03 Dec 2016 16:45:42 +0000 2016high5s
(WSB photos/video)

Long before dawn, Christmas arrived early for almost 100 local kids, thanks to about 200 volunteer Santas turning the annual Rotary Club of West Seattle Children’s Shopping Spree from plan to reality:

First to arrive, kids from Arbor Heights Elementary, a few minutes before 7 am. The Rotarians had just finished a rousing briefing for volunteers before the first bus pulled up at Southcenter, where the Shopping Spree had to move starting in 2014, after the SODO Sears shut down.

Kids from five schools are participating this year – along with AHES, they are from Highland Park, Sanislo, and West Seattle Elementaries, and Louisa Boren STEM K-8. Each one is paired with a volunteer to share breakfast – this year, at BJ’s Restaurant – before the “spree,” which focuses on practical items like coats and shoes.


As the first group settled down to breakfast, the second arrived, from WSES, also to raucous cheers:

They were followed by Sanislo, STEM, and Highland Park, the last group to be greeted, as the sky just outside the mall entrance brightened to gray. Volunteers and students got to know each other as they paired off and headed to breakfast. “What grade are you in?” was the icebreaker question heard time and again.

Following breakfast, shopping time.


Here’s Arbor Heights principal Christy Collins helping supervise:


And just as that got going, we had a Santa Claus sighting:

A chat and pic with St. Nick is part of the plan too:


West Seattle Rotary raises money for this each year through a variety of events including a benefit breakfast featuring a guest speaker (this year, weather analyst Cliff Mass). And the volunteer help, from within the club ranks as well as other groups around the region, is priceless. The groups/businesses participating today included:

Grace Gospel
Sigma Gamma Rho
Zeta Phi Beta
Kappa Alpha Psi
Alpha Phi Alpha
Phi Beta Sigma
Epsilon Epsilon Sigma
(and chapter Omega Psi Phi)
Ferguson Plumbing Supplies
Paula’s Choice Skincare

The Shopping Spree continues on into the morning, with Santa visits and more, and memories that will last a long time – for the adults as well as the kids who are going home with much-needed gifts.


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West Seattle scene: Rotary’s benefit breakfast features Cliff Mass Tue, 24 May 2016 23:38:16 +0000 breakfst2
(WSB photos)

The Rotary Club of West Seattle drew about 200 people to its annual fundraising breakfast this morning at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). This year’s keynote speaker is well-known to weather-watchers in particular: Cliff Mass, described on the program as “University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and renowned Seattle weather prognosticator/personality.” We photographed him with incoming West Seattle Rotary president Dr. Susanne Gee:


Mass has often said he’s not a forecaster, but more of an analyst. And as those at today’s event heard, he’s outspoken on a variety of related topics, including no love lost for some news media’s tendency to engage in hyperbole related to weather events. He also talked about what he sees for the Pacific Northwest in terms of climate change – including more rain, less snow, between now and 2050, but no “dramatic” increase in temperature until later this century. You can find him online here.

P.S. Today’s fundraising will benefit Rotary projects including the Children’s Holiday Shopping Spree and Pencil Me In For Kids.

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ELECTION 2016: Republican governor candidate Bill Bryant ends his Port Commission career with Rotary Club of West Seattle speech Wed, 23 Dec 2015 07:46:42 +0000

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before Bill Bryant becomes a full-time candidate for governor, he had one last thing on his to-do list as a two-term Seattle Port Commissioner: A speech to the Rotary Club of West Seattle.

That speech today at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) brought him full circle, Bryant said, because he announced his Port Commission run at nearby Jack Block Park in 2006.

His run for governor, by contrast, was announced online. And here’s our video of what he told the Rotary Club today:

Bryant delivered more of a valedictory for his 8 years on the commission than a speech looking ahead to what he would hope to do as governor. He said he ran on a platform that eventually spanned four key points:

*Wanted to clean up Puget Sound
*Wanted to clean up the traffic mess
*Wanted to clean up Port Commission
*Wanted to increase competitiveness of port and “keep family wage jobs here”

On #1 – he said he was told “the Port Commission doesn’t have anything to do with Puget Sound” but he countered that the Port is the largest landowner on Elliott Bay, as well as a major landowner on the Duwamish, so, yes. it does. He says they’ve “elevated the commission’s role” in cleaning up a “dying” Puget Sound over the last four years. “We don’t have a lot of time to save it – if we spend the next 10 years dawdling, only making the progress we’ve made over the previous 10 years, we’ll have spent billions on Puget Sound and not have a lot to show for it.” He stressed a focus on stormwater and habitat restoration. He said at least two of the port’s marinas have earned a 5 via EnviroStar, operated “to the highest level of marina sensitivity.” Its parks “have all been certified as ‘salmon-safe’.” And Sea-Tac Airport, he said, is becoming North America’s first “salmon-safe” airport. “The work the Port of Seattle has done over the last eight years has got to continue,” he concluded.

On #2 – “We have elevated our role as a Port Commission in being a player in statewide transportation policies,” necessary because jobs won’t be generated if the freight can’t be moved. He mentioned the port helping to pay for the East Marginal Way Grade Separation, among other transportation projects. “But there’s a lot of work to be done.” He spoke of being part of a group convened by former Gov. Gregoire before she left office, identifying $30 billion in unmet transportation needs.

On #3 – “When I wrote that (campaign pledge), I had no idea what my first day on the Port Commission would be like.” That day, he said, involved the release of an auditor’s report identifying potential multi-million-dollar waste. His first meeting, as a result, “the place was packed,” with “the Fire Marshal turning people away.” He said the port is “the most open, transparent government in Washington, bar none” compared to how it operated before then. He talked about briefings at the last moment in the early days, with little notice to the public before key votes, but said briefings and public notice mostly arrive well in advance now. (He did not mention the furor over the short public notice before the port lease with Foss that enabled the controversial arrival of Shell offshore-drilling rigs at Terminal 5.)

On #4 – He spoke of the plan to ready the port for bigger ships, “the size of a few football fields,” including the Terminal 5 modernization project. He called T-5 “one of the best terminals in the United States,” with its location, its size, its “naturally deep water,” its rail service, “but it’s not set up to handle (a big ship).” The modernization is going to cost $250 million to $400 million. Puget Sound needs four big-ship-ready terminals, he says. It has two already, and the plan for T-5. He says that’s part of the impetus behind the Seattle and Tacoma ports joining to form the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

“I set out to do four of four things … I can leave after eight years very satisfied with what I have done,” he declared.

First audience question: Where’s the surface traffic with the Terminal 5 bigger ships going to go? Bryant replied the new “heavy haul corridor” plan – announced recently by the city – will handle that.

A later question asked about the truck backups that happen in the area on occasion. Bryant mentioned the Lander Street Overpass that was to be built (and is now supposed to get a jumpstart from the Move Seattle levy passed by city voters last month) and some broken promises along the way, noting that “promises” made relating to Safeco Field hadn’t been kept, spawning skepticism over the next possible arena’s effect on transportation. SODO “can work” in a multi-use way, he said, but “we’ve got to have some major transportation investments,” including road repairs.

He reminded people that the port belongs to all of King County, not just the city. He also noted that the new alliance means Seattle is “the northern terminal” and Tacoma is “the southern terminal.”

Doesn’t the port’s property-tax levy have to go up to pay for improvements such as the port modernization? he was asked. Short answer: No, but that money is being used, in part, to pay off bonds, for projects including transportation facilities, and he said he personally believes that “projects that should be paid for by the gas tax are being paid for by the ports.”

To hear everything he was asked, listen to/watch the video above – the Q/A spans the final 10 minutes or so.

Bryant’s successor in Seattle Port Commission Position 5 will be Fred Felleman.

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VIDEO: High fives and happy holidays at West Seattle Rotary Children’s Shopping Spree Sun, 06 Dec 2015 00:16:10 +0000

On this cold, wet night, about 100 West Seattle kids are keeping warm thanks to the Rotary Club of West Seattle‘s annual Holiday Shopping Spree. Local Rotarians and hundreds of volunteers take over Southcenter Sears before dawn to get the kids in for warm clothing including coats and shoes.

And there’s always fun along the way – including a round of high-fives:

The high-fives accompanied a loud round of cheers for each group of kids to arrive – see for yourself in our video!

Each child was accompanied by volunteers as they shopped for what they needed.

The young participants also got a meal and a visit with Santa Claus before they headed back this way – and smiles invariably result, for the volunteers as well as the kids:

West Seattle Rotarians have been doing this since 1972 – it’s the club’s signature event. The students participating this year were from Concord, Gatewood, Lafayette, Pathfinder, and Roxhill.

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Before Santa, there’s oompah: Celebrate Oktoberfest with West Seattle Rotarians to help fund Children’s Holiday Spree & more Fri, 16 Oct 2015 21:27:03 +0000

(WSB photo, December 2014)
Every year in early December, the Rotary Club of West Seattle brings holiday gifts and fun to about a hundred local students in need via its annual Children’s Shopping Spree. The rest of the year, the club has other events and donation drives to raise money for its charitable projects, including the spree. You’re invited to be part of a fall fundraiser that’s now just eight days away:

Saturday, October 24, 2015, the Rotary Club of West Seattle will host its 2nd annual Oktoberfest from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Alki Masonic Hall, 4736 40th Ave SW. Free parking is available in the lot adjacent to the hall.

The festivities will include German & local microbrew BEER, authentic German FOOD, an Oompah BAND, and a RAFFLE.

Net proceeds from the event will be used to support the Club’s charitable projects. Tickets are $45 and may be purchased (must be age 21 or older) on the Club’s website.

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West Seattle scene: Pencil Me In For Kids back-to-school party Thu, 03 Sep 2015 07:10:15 +0000

It’s one of the most fun nights of (almost-)fall for Rotary Club of West Seattle members … the back-to-school sorting party for Pencil Me In For Kids, their signature charity distributing donated school supplies to local students. As Rotarians and friends gathered Wednesday night in a Westwood backyard, they knew that every local elementary has kids getting a boost from PMIFK (that was noted at this week’s Rotary meeting). Member or not, you can help too, through PMIFK – here’s how.

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Local speech, global overview: What Navy Region NW commander Rear Adm. Jeff Ruth told West Seattle Rotary Tue, 01 Sep 2015 23:07:14 +0000 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The U.S. Navy‘s presence in the Northwest – and much of the rest of the world – is vital, on a planet where 80 percent of all people live close to oceans or other waterways, and 90 percent of the world’s trade goes by water.

That’s what Rear Admiral Jeff Ruth, commander of Navy Region Northwest, told the Rotary Club of West Seattle this afternoon, as guest speaker at their weekly lunch. This region, in particular, he noted, is reliant on those trade routes, and in turn on the security provided by the Navy.

The turnout filled the lower meeting room at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). The admiral’s resume – detailed here – includes two years commanding the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. And his speech was far more global than local.

He showed the maritime routes around the world to underscore their importance – not just in relation to war and peace, he explained, telling an anecdote about Starbucks, and how it transports a particular bean from Africa to New York City. Imagine how that route could be disrupted if the Navy wasn’t in the region, RDML Ruth said: “I think you’d see how our livelihoods, our trade, relies on the ability to keep our routes, our crossroads open.”

He outlined how “the Navy has recently fine-tuned its maritime strategy”:

*Emphasizing warfighting first
*Being where it matters, when it matters
*Continuing to strengthen alliances and partnerships
*Assuring global access
*Continuing the President’s “Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific”
*Building the Navy of the future

He elaborated on each point. On the first, “We believe that if we are ready for the high-end war, we will possess the capability to do disaster relief … and all the other pieces [of the Navy’s potential roles] as well.”

97 ships are deployed overseas right now, and that will increase to 120 by 2020. “By that time, about 60 percent will be based in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.” In the same time frame, the number of ships in the Middle East will increase from 30 to 40. But “The Navy’s not going to ignore our partners in Europe,” he said. 4 destroyers, for example, will move to Rota, Spain, by the end of this year.

But the Pacific balance is vital because of the ascendancy of China’s forces, among other reasons, he said. They have “aspirations” in the South and East China Seas and are anticipating U.S. “intervention,” he said. China sextupled its surface-vessel number alone, he said, showing just how much the Chinese have beefed up their force. In the late ’90s, the U.S. was ahead of China, according to a slide he showed, and now, they are well ahead. Some of what they’re doing “is a good thing,” he added – anti-piracy efforts in the Africa area and fisheries work, among them, as well as disaster relief. He also talked about other efforts – reclaiming some land in the China Sea – more than 3,000 acres of property recently.

This was his run-up to declaring that continuing to fund the military (here’s the Navy’s current budget outlook) is vital to maintaining security – the “sequestration” a few years back had spending at an unsustainable level, he contended, and if the U.S. returned to that level, the Navy believes it could not respond effectively to threats or to disasters.

He acknowledged that he was making this speech because the Navy is trying to build community relationships – to foster an understanding “not only of our needs … but of your concerns as we work together to meet our national objectives.”

With that, he invited questions.

The first questioner wanted to know about drones and aircraft carriers. Ruth mentioned the XP-47 that was tested about a year ago, using the military term, “unmanned aerial vehicles.” He also mentioned a remotely operated small helicopter that’s been used, but right now, he said, nothing’s been officially deployed from carriers.

What happens if you see a submarine while out on a pleasure craft in local waters? “You can’t really communicate with them,” said the person asking the question. “Yes, you can, they’re out there monitoring,” replied Ruth. (“On 16,” he later added.) He talked about “driving in and out of” here and San Diego as an aircraft-carrier commander, and how the visibility for anything closer than a quarter-mile is negligible. “When a ship comes and decides it’s going to pass beneath my bow … it’s out of my vision and I just hope we don’t run it over.” Warships are not easy to stop, he explained. And he reminded them of 500-yard safety zones. “Don’t cause (Navy ship commanders) to wonder, what the hell is this guy doing?” he concluded.

The next question was a three-part one about China and Russia. Bottom line: Both are at the top of the risk-to-U.S. list, as they continue to have nuclear weapons with the U.S. in range, he said. North Korea also is there because “they’re developing the ability to reach out and touch us,” and because of the unpredictability of its leader. Also, “cyber” warfare is a major perceived threat overall.

He also shared stories including one he characterized as “old-style Cold War stuff” while in the Middle East with a Russian carrier out following his ship around, to which, he said, they responded by deploying some aircraft on flybys. One day they got a call that “the captain of the Russian ship wants your e-mail address.” E-mail actually ensued – requesting a helicopter landing for a “gift exchange.” They actually did that exchange, with helicopters (not landing) – “patches, stickers, we gave them to the Russians, they gave us a bunch of stuff.” The next day, he said, the Russian carrier was gone – possibly out of oil.

“One last question,” he was then asked – “are you a Seahawks fan?”

He said yes, while also noting he’s been a lifelong Chargers fan – having spent some time living in San Diego – saying he watched the Seattle-SD game last week with interest.


The West Seattle Rotarians meet every Tuesday at Salty’s. Upcoming guests include: September 8th, Peter Royce speaks about the Rotary Well Project in Cambodia; September 15th, Amy Lee Derenthal talks about Food Lifeline (which is about to break ground for its new center, just south of South Park); September 22nd, Michael Luis will talk about the Center for Wooden Boats at Lake Union. In addition to its meetings, the club tackles an intensive schedule of charitable work; tomorrow, for example, is its annual sorting party for school supplies donated via Pencil Me In For Kids.


Photo credit: Patrick Sand, WSB

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Congratulations! West Seattle Rotary scholarships for local students Wed, 17 Jun 2015 05:17:41 +0000

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
School’s out – and some are looking ahead to the next stage of their education, like the seven students to whom the Rotary Club of West Seattle awarded scholarships today – Student of the Month and Gambriell scholarships totaling $15,500. We stopped by the Rotary lunch meeting to photograph the students who were there to accept them – from left, Julia Nark (Career Link), Tin Vo (West Seattle High School), Caprice Villeza (West Seattle HS), Naeem Ghodsian (Career Link), and Joey Werlech (now a Central Washington University student); recipients not pictured are Brisa Mendez-Alvarez (Chief Sealth International High School) and Carolina Sayuri Sasai (Seattle Lutheran). The club explains, “The Students of the Month program honors outstanding students in West Seattle (area) high-school programs selected by their school counselors. Each year all Students of the Month are encouraged to apply for the available scholarships. Also every year, the club awards two or three Gambriell Scholarships based on financial need and academic merit to graduating West Seattle-area seniors who apply and might not otherwise be able to attend college.”

A Rotarian with extra reason to smile about all this is Len Burton-Hardin:

Starting next month, he’ll be in charge of the club’s vocational/educational outreach.

P.S. The next big West Seattle Rotary-sponsored event, the WS Grand Parade, is now just one month away – Saturday, July 18th!

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