Rotary forms committee to improve first impressions for city

Posted 7/15/17

Daily Mountain Eagle

Anthony Christian, the new president of the Jasper Rotary Club, told the club Tuesday he wants to start a committee that will help improve first impressions for visitors coming to the city.

“Rotary: Making a …

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Rotary forms committee to improve first impressions for city


Daily Mountain Eagle

Anthony Christian, the new president of the Jasper Rotary Club, told the club Tuesday he wants to start a committee that will help improve first impressions for visitors coming to the city.

“Rotary: Making a Difference” is the slogan for Rotary organizations internationally, he said.

“We’ve got to do our part in Jasper to make a difference. That starts with each one of us as an individual,” said Christian, who is a State Farm Insurance agent in the city.

He recognized president-elect Greg Williams, past president Lou Vick, secretary Allison Jones, treasurer Sharon Hogg and Sargent at Arms Gary Hallmark. He noted Dr. Sue Mitchell, the district governor, will officially visit the club on Oct. 10, but will not have the program, as she just wanted to introduce herself briefly.

Christian, who said he was humbled to get the position, said he wanted input from the 54-member service club on what they think will work or won’t work.

Borrowing from President Trump’s campaign slogan, he said his motto for the year will be “Walker County and Jasper First.”

“The Rotary Club does a lot of good things and we want to continue to do a lot of good things,” he said, including nationally and internationally, although he said the club would concentrate on local needs this year.

Christian, who noted he was not from Walker County originally, said he would not have known all the people in the local Rotary Club chapter had he not been a member.

“So Rotary is really special to me. Not only is it 54 people, it is 54 of the most respected people in the county, so I consider it a privilege to be a member of the Jasper Rotary Club,” he said.

He said he wanted to emphasize the club be more than just meeting for lunch weekly, stressing “service above self,” saying the club will progress if it does that.

Christian said he wanted the club to have as much exposure as possible, noting Mitchell is also emphasizing that this year. While Daily Mountain Eagle Publisher James Phillips, a member of Rotary, was absent from the meeting, Christian said, “I’m going to talk with James about having a committee, and I want James to head it up, that will actually do that. When Rotary does something, we want it in the paper.”

He also wants Rotarians to wear club shirts when they do work on behalf of the club, so that the community is exposed to the club’s influence.

Christian said he was proud of advances made in downtown Jasper and wants to continue supporting growth there. “I think that group has done wonders,” he said, apparently referring to Main Street Jasper.

However, he talked of carrying that growth to other parts of the city.

“One of my committees is going to be called First Impression Jasper,” he said. “How many times do you get the chance to make a good first impression? One time, and that’s it. When somebody comes into Jasper, that is the only chance we get to make a good first impression.”

The new club committee will come up with ideas to improve first impressions in the city, including improvements for areas such as highways and the airport.

“I would have never, ever have thought about the airport (Walker County Airport-Bevill Field in Jasper) until they had the article in the paper.”

He referred to Daily Mountain Eagle stories in May that told about Leadership Walker County’s efforts to make improvements at the airport, as that is the first impression many people have of the airport.

“That is some people’s first impression. That is going to be the first impression of a lot of folks who want to come in with a business, because they are going to fly in here,” he said.

He said Facebook pages can also amount to a first impression, adding that the club will want to look at its own page on Facebook.

“We want to look at things to make it more enticing,” he said, noting when he first moved into the city, he had a bad impression from the concrete seams on Highway 78 (Highway 118) in front of the Bank of Walker County. “It gave me a bad impression right from the start,” making him wonder about the condition of other roads in the county.

“On this committee that we’re about to form, I want someone who has Rep. (Connie) Rowe’s ear,” he said, noting she has stated in a Rotarian speech she has a good relationship with John R. Cooper, the head of the Alabama Department of Transportation. “I want someone on this committee that can call Rep. Rowe and say, ‘Look, here is something we would like to see if we can get fixed.’”

He also talked about repainting the jet in front of the VFW hall on Highway 78. He said volunteers will be able to do the work, and vehicles and trucks can be obtained to position volunteers on the top end of the displayed plane. He talked of landscape efforts in some areas, and of also helping to improve Highway 78.

“For every 1,000 people downtown, there are 10,000 on 78,” he said.

“I’ve seen a lot of things we can do. This will take the whole club to work on this some time. I think it would be great exposure, all of us working on the highway with all of us, with our blue Rotary shirts on,” he said.

Christian convinced Jasper Councilman Gary Cowen during the meeting to be on the committee, with Al McAdams of First Bank of Jasper asked to serve as chairman. Jasper City Superintendent of Education Ann Jackson will also serve on the committee.

“I think that is going to be one of our most important committees,” Christian said.

Christian also organized a veterans committee to hold cookouts and recognitions for veterans. He wants to bring business owners and managers to meetings to be recognized for their contribution to the local economy, noting they can be from all size businesses, without having to give a program. He wants the membership committee to visit prospective members.

He called for three or four casual dinners or cookouts a year for Rotary members, aside from regular meetings, which would be underwritten by members and not from club dues.

He also notes Rotary International wants every club to plant 100 trees this year, although he did not know at this time where the trees could be planted locally.

The club also discussed ways to make the Rotary coal miner sign stand out more on Industrial Drive near U.S. Interstate 22. Christian talked about working with landowners to cut some select trees at the site to make it stand out more.

He also said he is working out problems to get lettering for the display, which he said has been more troublesome than the artwork itself.