Posted by John Magnuson on Jan 19, 2018
What a wonderful surprise to have PP Ron Irwin as President for a day! It is a good thing for President Don Daniels to do that. The year as president goes by so quickly – just about the time the Pres hits stride – it’s over! Having a “bench” of past presidents to rely on is a great resource.
The skill exhibited by Ron in 2003 – 2004 is just as keen now as then. As a matter of fact, Lakewood Rotary has 22 past presidents still active in the club. With a calendar of about 49 meetings each year, the sitting president really only needs to attend to the duties slightly more than half time. Just saying….
 Bob Hammar led off with a moment – or several – of silence so each could invoke their choice of solemnity. Dave Reames led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Helping with today’s meeting were Ward, Duncan, Bob, Mary ($993 foundation donation today), Sonia and Ole. It looked to me like Troy was helping with the technical system as well.  
Guests of Rotarians were introduced next. They were: Eric Warn by his sponsor PP Chris Kimball (proud owner of a very dirty Dodge Magnum).  PP Rick Selden introduced Liz Irwin. Rebecca Davis of Pierce Transit was next. Soon to be District Governor PP Greg Horn introduced Kendra Riconsciuto, a prospective new member. In terms of Sunshine, John Forkenbrock led us to believe everything was hunky-dory. John Warner burst that bubble with the news that Richard Simmons is in a rehab center battling a congestive heart. Heal well Richard, old friend!
Rapper Rik announced that he was not competing with Rapper Eric because he is too esoteric! The Sportsman’s Dinner and Auction is bearing down on us  - April 14th. Forms, tickets, invitations, sponsorship opportunities are all available on Club Runner or you can conduct your business at each meeting but do it soon! Yes RR actually rapped the website is active and it is so attractive!
Kim Prentice announced that Clover Park School District is celebrating its 90th anniversary at Harrison Prep, Tuesday January 23, 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Clayton Denault likewise announced an anniversary – the Lakewood YMCA is 25 years young. January 28, 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Come and see the new reception area designed by James Guerrero and built by John Korsmo. Jay Mayer gave the semi-annual report on the activities of the Community Concerns committee. The budget is $24,000 and we have given about half of that to Lakewood area organizations with needs. Eric Warn related that Lakewood First Lions annual Crab Feed is nearing. Join Rotarians as we support our fellow community service organization – The Lions – at the McGavick Center on January 27, 6:00 to 9:00 PM.  
PP Ron related how, during his term as president, he would tell a story each week. It was always fun or funny or poignant – whatever he chose, it was something different. Different is good. We were becoming predictable in our meetings. But Ron’s storytime was eventually met with “Boos.” That’s not “Booze”, mind you. So he announced that he would stop telling stories. That was met with “Boos.” So he announced he would continue with stories. That was met with “Boos!” Happily, he ran out of stories at the same time he ran out of time in office! But, and here is the point of this, there is a story book entitled The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. It is a fictional children’s novel written in the first person Ivan’s voice. But Ron knows the true story of Ivan’s life and he related part of it at Friday’s meeting.
 The real story of Ivan began when Ron’s dad, Earl Irwin, built the B & I shopping center on South Tacoma Way in 1946. He reasoned that as a multi-tenanted shopping center he needed lots of parking so he accumulated adjacent land for that purpose. In 1952 an itinerant circus came to the area and the large parking area became home for that event. As circuses do, there were lots of animals. There were also lots of families coming to see the circus and thus the animals got lots of attention. This wasn’t lost on Ron’s Dad, so he bought animals and housed them at the B & I. There were Llamas, Cheetah, Jaguar, baby elephant, tapir and in a 60,000 gallon aquarium – seals, sea lions and porpoise. There were also two silverback gorillas – Ivan and his sister.
Ivan spent his days at the B & I thrilling children and evenings at home with the Johnson family. Eventually, full-grown Ivan was wrecking the Johnson home so he lived full-time at the B & I. The mood about animal rights across America began to change and Ivan’s situation came under intense scrutiny. Ron decided that he would find another home for Ivan because the hatred expressed by activists was threatening and harmful. A deal with Michael Jackson and his Neverland Ranch fell through and so Ron had to ask every suitable zoo in America to take Ivan. Trying to do the right thing was met with scathing criticism just as doing the perceived “wrong thing” was. Does the term “Catch 22” ring a bell? Eventually, the Atlanta Zoo became home for Ivan where he lived out his life.
If I have misquoted Ron in this relation of his story, I apologize. But, if you go the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, as you enter you’ll see the most beautiful bronze statue of Ivan. In my opinion, it is a glorious rendition of the beauty and dignity that he possessed. My Grandsons love to sit on Ivan’s lap and that is good enough for me to know what a wonderful story this is. Thank you, Ron.
Andrew Neiditz introduced our program on Pierce Transit.  Andrew came from Atlantic City to Eugene to work in City Administration. He said he was almost as unpopular as someone coming from California. Susan Dreier came to Eugene from California to drive bus. She now is the CEO of Pierce Transit and had a few bus stops along the way. She gave a rapid-fire update on the state of Pierce Transit.
Above: Presenter, Susan Dreier
Ever since the economic slowdown in 2008, Pierce Transit has had to recover from a 30% cutback in funding, routes and ridership. PT serves 70% of Pierce County – she didn’t say whether that was a geographic reference or population. Sound Transit interlocks with Pierce Transit and buys services from PT. It is sales tax funded to a major degree. Fares account for a small portion and federal revenue sharing makes up the balance. The vehicles use compressed natural gas. There are no new buses. The CNG tanks have to be replaced by 2020 at a cost of $52 million! I’d do it for half that if only they’d give me a chance!
Ridership is up 6% as of the end of November 2017. Trunk routes operate about every 20 minutes throughout the county. Connector routes frequency depends on other factors. Rapid transit efforts mean many different approaches to the current system. Off board payment (pay in advance through technology), dedicated bus lanes needed, fewer stops, etc.  Electric buses will be a reality – 250 mile range before recharging. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound too far to me. I forgot to ask what the average distance travelled per day per bus is. Driverless buses are a thing of the future as well. Ms. Dreier fielded several questions. No one asked about the elephant in the room – the Regional Transit Authority vehicle license money grab! My, we are are a PC lot!
In conclusion:
The drawing brought Mike McGowan to his feet for $5.
Who reads this stuff?