Rotary International Theme 2023-2024


Rotary Club of Durham

Rotary International President:

Gordon McInally

Rotary District 5160 Governor:

Clair Roberts

Durham Rotary President: Glenn Pulliam


Editor: Phil Price

Publisher:  Jen Liu


 January 30, 2024


  Harvest Festival 2024

Will be held on
Sep. 15, 2024

2024                                       Calendar for Durham Rotary

1 2 3
4 5 6
No Meeting
7 8 9 10
11 12 13
Club Social at The Commons - 2412 Park Avenue
(Diana Selland)
14 15 16 17
18 19 20
No Meeting
21 22  23 24
25 26 27
(Jim Patterson)
28 29


1 2
3 4 5
No Meeting
6 7 8 9
10 11 12
Gold Mining Butte Creek Canyon
(Phil Price)
13 14 15 16
17 18 19
No Meeting
20 21 22 23
24 25 26
(Daryl Polk)
27 28 29 30

The Meeting Opening

The meeting was called to order by President-Elect Peggi Koehler, at BCCC.  (President Glenn Pulliam is on his way to Costa Rica.)

Peggi asked John Bohanon to lead the pledge, which he did.  Jim Patterson then presented the invocation.   Following that, Larry Bradley led us in singing “God Bless America”.

FUTURE MEETINGS: Meetings will be at the location noted, at 6:00 pm.

February 13th:  Club Social at The Commons, 2412 Park Avenue.

February 27th:  Jim Patterson, at BCCC

March 12th:  Phil Price-Gold Mining Butte Creek Cyn

March 26th:  Daryl Polk

April 9th:  Diana Costillo-Seland

April 23rd:  Steve Plume

April 30th:  Club Social.  Location TBA

May 14th:  Bruce Norlie


There will be a Memorial Service for Dave and Sue Jessen at 12:00 noon on Saturday, February 3rd, at the Memorial Hall in Durham.

Peggi reported that she and Steve Heithecker attended the District Grant Training conference on January 27th.  So both are now qualified to submit applications for District grants.  What has been discussed is a grant to fund big screen TVs in the Memorial Hall and refrigeration to help in thawing the crab safely. 

Diana Selland reported that theare considering doing new web pages for Durham Rotary which wouldenable purchase of Crab Feed tickets on-line.  This would include selection of your dinner table seats at the time ofpurchase and avoiding the confusion they had this year when people arrived.

Peggi presented a flyer reporting on the Crab Feed chairperson’s meeting on January 23rd.  Income from the Crab Feed was:

Silent Auction:         $9,717

Desert Auction        $1,375
Ticket Sales:           $21,250

Drink Sales:            $3,133

Interact Donations:  $544

Misc:                        $125

Total Income:          $36,144
Expense:                $8,330.84
Net Income:            $27,813.66

Introduction of Visitors

Larry Bradley introduced John Rhein and Alex Dubose, both of the Chico Rotary Club.  He also introduced Tod Kimmelshue, Butte County 4th District Supervisor.  He was here as Mike Crump’s program for the night.

President Elect Peggi also introduced Sharon Robertson, K. R.’s guest


I was recognized for my wedding anniversary which was on the following day (Jan 31st).  It was 65 years ago when I was sick as a dog with mononucleosis (which my doctor failed to diagnose).  We had the wedding (in a church that has since been torn down) and then I spent the next two weeks in bed at Cindy’smother’s house in Lodi.  She went back to work in San Jose.  So, no honeymoon!  Anyway, I still contributed $35.00 ($65 – $15 over $50).

Next Meeting

It will be a club social at 2412 Park Avenue.  Bring your spouse or significant other.

Make Your Masterpiece: You'll each get a 7" pizza dough, ready to be topped with house-made sauce, a blend ofmouth-watering cheeses, and a variety of toppings to make your pizza uniquely yours. (Note: a gluten-free pizza crust is available, please let me know ifyou'd prefer this when you RSVP!)

Expert Guidance: The Common's head pizza maker, a maestro of the dough and toppings, will lead the class. Whether you'rea pizza pro or a newbie, you're in great hands.

Dessert : What would a Durham Rotary meeting be without dessert!? It will be a sweet treat for you and yours!

Please RSVP to Diana Selland ( or  (530) 717-7274) by February 5th so that she can provide The Commons with the most accurate headcount for our special evening.

Tonight’s Meeting Program

Mike Crump presented 4th District Supervisor, Tod Kimmelshue, who spoke about water.  He noted that there is surface water and ground water.  Regarding surface water the Central Valley Project resulted in Shasta Dam in 1930 and the State Water project resulted in Oroville Dam in the 1960s.

Ground water depends on the level of water in existing aquifers or sub-basins. In our area we have the Vina Sub-Basin, which is anaquifer under Chico and areas north of Chico, the Wyandotte Creek Sub-Basin, which is an aquifer under Oroville and areas south in Butte County and adjacentto Biggs and Gridley, and the Butte Sub-Basin which is an aquifer on the western side of Butte County.  See map below.

Tod noted that our underground aquifers are still in good shape unlike those in southern San Joquin Valley, where they have essentially exhausted their aquifers, using the water for farming.  Unless they can find another source thousands of acres of farmland will no longer be farmed.

Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s have been formed to create plans to control the ground water in each of the threeSub-Basins.  The plans to protect the water in each of the GSA’s have been approve by the State.

There has also been formed the Tuscan Water District.  This district generally covers an area west of highway 99, north to the Butte Count border, exclusive of the area of Chico serviced by Cal Water and south until it runs into other water districts, but includes Durham.  What this district wants to do is to buy from Butte County the 27,000+ acre feet theCounty is entitled to from Oroville Dam.  The County is currently selling it to Kern County


Bring guests who you think you can interest in becoming a member.  Your dinner and your guest’s dinner will be paid for by the Club.  Also, bring a guest to one of our occasional social gatherings.

Go to the following Rotary International web site for information on membership development: .  From this website there is access to membership development and other related information.

The Rotary Foundation Donations

You can make a difference in this world by helping people in need. Your gift can do some greatthings, from supplying filters that clean people’s drinking water to empowering local entrepreneurs to grow through business development training.

The Rotary Foundation will use your gift to fund the life-changing work of Rotary memberswho provide sustainable solutions to their communities’ most pressing needs. But we need help from people like you who will take action and give the gift ofRotary to make these projects possible.

When every Rotarian gives every year, no challenge is too great for us to make adifference. The minimum gift to The Rotary Foundation is $25.00.   An annual $100.00 gift is a sustaining member.  Once your donationsaccumulate to $1,000 you become a Paul Harris Fellow.

If you have any questions ask Steve Heithecker.

It is possible to learn more about The Rotary Foundation on the Rotary web site. 

Your gift can be made online or by sending Jessica Thorpe a check made out to The RotaryFoundation to Durham Rotary, P.O. Box 383, Durham, California 95958.

It was suggested that you make a donation in Dave Jessen’s name to help get him to the next level.  He was apparently close.  I think what was talked about was getting him to a Paul Harris Major Donor level, whichis the level you reach when you have given $10,000.  Talk to Steve Heithecker about how to do that.  Also, see the discussion in “From Rotary International” below.

Must Be Present to Win Drawing:

None tonight


President Elect Peggi then closed the meeting following this:


From District 5160

Spring Assembly – South: March 23

Spring Assembly – North: April 6

Field of Rotary Dreams 2023-24 District Conference, Sacramento: April 26-28

Early Bird registration of $280 for the Field of Rotary Dreams Conference on April 26-28, 2024 ends December 31!
For current information and updates on the conference, check out

Here is some important information from the District Conference Playbook.
Holiday Inn Downtown-Arena
300 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814 (Friday Check-in 3:00 pm)

From Rotary International

A classic car repair program opens path for at-risk youth

By Katya Cengel Photography by Ian Tuttle

Natalia Montiel pulls on yellow work gloves and bends over a piece of notebook-sizemetal. The energetic teen with long black hair holds a cutting torch in one hand and places her other hand underneath. “Is this the hand that guides me?”she says, turning to Tom Forgette, her instructor in the art of classic and antique auto repair.

“Steadies it,” corrects Forgette. “I’m the one that guides you.”

Forgette, an instructor of some renown in this part of central California, is nothing ifnot precise. Minutes earlier he instructed Natalia to wait until a feather of flame appeared, then to adjust it using the oxygen valve. Now Forgette watchesas Natalia uses the torch to cut the metal, a skill she’ll need to perfect for auto body repair. “You’re a little too close,” he says, then adds, “Now youmoved too far away.”

In an airy garage with a high ceiling and open entrance, surrounded by car parts,stacks of tires, and tools, Natalia bends closer. A strip of metal falls to the floor. A straight cut. That is what Forgette wanted. Had Natalia done it wrongthe metal would have stuck. Still, Forgette makes his pupil repeat the process. She doesn’t complain. And Natalia, who is wearing mascara and silver hoopearrings, quickly earns his respect in what remains a male-dominated craft. “She’s just going for it,” Forgette says.

Instructor Tom Forgette works with students Natalia Montiel (right) and Abel Galindo at Rancho Cielo.

The youngest of six, Natalia grew up watching her father, David, fix cars. In hisnative Mexico, he was a mechanic. In Salinas, in California’s Central Coast, her dad fixed cars for family members. Natalia helped him, passing him toolsand holding a light. She knew she could do more, but her father didn’t think of his “princess” as a future mechanic.

As she got older Natalia forgot about cars and found herself on a precarious path,surrounding herself with friends who were unmotivated and into marijuana. It felt like she was “living the same day over and over again,” she recalls. “Notreally like going anywhere.”

During her junior year of high school a counselor suggested an alternative vocational school called Rancho Cielo that also helps withsocial services and life skills. When Natalia heard the nonprofit organization had an automotive program she signed up. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s perfect. That’sliterally what I am looking for,’” she says.

Natalia started the program in November 2022. By the following July, she was one of sixstudents in the school’s classic and antique auto repair course learning under Forgette.

Monterey County, where Salinas is located, is one of the biggest classic and antique carhubs in the country. Classic and vintage car races are held each year at the world-famous WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. And then there’s the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which bills itself as the world’s most prestigious car show. “As someone who’s grown up in Salinas, I’ve always beenso fascinated looking at the classic cars that go up and down the main streets,” says Natalia. “To think of myself working on one, it’s veryexciting.”

It was this automotive legacy that inspired Rotarians Mark Grandcolas andRichardson “Ric” Masten to create the classic and antique auto repair course. In some ways they are an unlikely pair. While Grandcolas favors slim fit khakisand loafers, Masten wears dress shoes and slacks. “Mark’s the backroom guy,” says Masten, an 85-year-old former stockbroker. “And he’s also the front.”

A 67-year-old engineer, Grandcolas retired early to Mexico after his softwarestartup made it big. It was there that he joined Rotary. He returned to the U.S. in 2019 to care for his aging mother and joined the Rotary Club ofCarmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County. He also joined the club’s Foundation committee, which Masten was then chairing. A Rotarian for almost half acentury, Masten had been interested in Rotary Foundation global grants but had not yet been able to secure one.

Rotarians Ric Masten (left) and Mark Grandcolas at Rancho Cielo.

Grandcolas had better insight, having been a member of the Rotary Club of San Miguel deAllende-Midday in Mexico, which had designed projects that were awarded global grants. Grandcolas formed a global grants enthusiast group for District 5230and challenged members to come up with a new idea. That is when Masten thought about classic car repair.

Masten’s first car, a 1938 Pontiac Eight Cabriolet convertible with a rumble seat thathe bought for $200 when he turned 16, gave him trouble, so he learned to take apart the engine. It is a practical skill that used to be commonly taught inhigh school shop classes. The decline of vocational training in high schools is one of the reasons Masten thought about an automotive training program. Theother was the need. As the owner of two classic Bentleys, a 1937 and a 1954, and a member of multiple classic car clubs, Masten knows that the mechanics whoserve those cars are fast disappearing. “There’s nobody to do it,” Masten says. “They’re retiring and dying.”

The exact definition of classic cars varies. Grandcolas includes anything madebefore 1983; others say 1975 or even anything more than 20 years old. Then there are the subcategories of vintage, antique, and collector cars. What’s notup for debate is that mechanics trained to work on modern cars can’t simply switch over to classic auto repair; it’s an entirely different craft. By the1980s the automotive industry was rapidly transitioning from mechanical to electronic components, explains Grandcolas. No more carburetors, no moredistributors. “To fix a modern car today you need a computer to run diagnostics,” says Grandcolas. “That computer would be of no use in a classiccar.” For older cars, he explains, “you need somebody with an ear and with eyes.”

It isn’t just the inside of a classic car that is different. Unlike modern carsthat use various plastic parts on the frame and body, the exteriors of most classic cars are made entirely of metal, which is more difficult to repair andreplace. Although those trained to repair the cars may be dying out, classic cars are not. In the U.S. alone there are around 31 million collector vehicles,according to research conducted by Hagerty, a provider of specialty insurance for classic cars.

The Rotarians knew the demand was there and that the training could offer a path tocollege and well-paying careers for young people. They just needed a place to host the program. For that, they turned to Rancho Cielo.

The ranch was the unlikely dream of retired Judge John Phillips. A slim, tall manof 81 who plays racquetball on Wednesdays, Phillips served as Monterey County’s assistant district attorney in his younger years. His job was to put peopleaway. In 1984 he was appointed to the Monterey County Superior Court. In both roles he watched as gangs became more prevalent in the county. Toward the endof his career, he found himself sending teenagers to prison for life. “Most of these kids had lost hope for the future,” he says. “It’s really easy to pullthe trigger if you don’t have any hopes or dreams or anything.”

In 2000 Phillips founded Rancho Cielo, a program designed to offer young peoplewho committed first-time offenses an alternative to incarceration, along with a fresh start. He built the program on a rural site that had once been a juvenileincarceration facility. Phillips leased the land from the government and got to work. With an operating budget of $75,000 and a staff of almost none, besideshis wife, Patti, he welcomed the first class of about a dozen youths in 2004, the same year he retired. From there Rancho Cielo grew to what it is today, anonprofit organization with a budget of over $5 million and a staff of almost 50.

Abel Galindo balances a wheel on a vintage car during class.

The 100-acre site in the foothills of the Gabilan Range is a working ranch withhorses, fishponds, a garden, beehives, classrooms, and workshops in long outbuildings resembling barns. Today, the program serves students from familieswith low income, and only about 30 percent of the 200 students on campus on any given day have been involved in the juvenile justice system. The majority arebetween 16 and 18 years old, and about three-quarters come from Salinas, the county seat and center of the Salinas Valley’s booming agricultural industry.Graduates of six vocational programs leave with an industry-recognized certificate and a high school diploma. Each program has a case manager. Thereis also a therapist. The program is free for students and they are transported to and from the campus and provided lunch and snacks. In some cases, they alsoreceive stipends and can take part in work-study programs.

“It went from this little program to deal with at-risk troubled kids to a majorvocational school, the only real vocational school anywhere around in this area,” Phillips explained during a talk at a Carmel-by-the-Sea club meeting inApril 2023.

Rotary and Rancho Cielo have a long history together. Carmel-by-the-Sea member LesleyMiller Manke, using her business and personal connections, was instrumental in securing funding for one of the ranch’s first vocational programs, the Drummond Culinary Academy. Construction, agriculture, auto repair, and welding programs were added later. As Rancho Cielo grew, Manke encouraged thenonprofit to apply for grant funding from the club and invited its staff to speak at club meetings. “Our club has been following Rancho Cielo since dayone,” she says.

The club isn’t the only one to support the ranch. The nearby Rotary Club of Corralde Tierra built a barbecue area at Rancho Cielo, says Doug Brown, chair of District 5230’s district grants subcommittee. Brown helped Masten andGrandcolas apply for the global grant as did District Governor Debbie Hale.

To strengthen their case and demonstrate the need for classic car mechanics, thetwo Rotarians identified nearly 50 shops servicing classic cars within a 37-mile radius of Rancho Cielo. Every one of the shops they visited had thesame problem: They needed help. “Some of them would say, ‘If you can train a kid and get them here, I need them last week,’” says Grandcolas.

According to their research there are only three or four places in the country that teachclassic car repair. None of them are in Monterey County. The data convinced Rancho Cielo CEO Chris Devers to add classic car repair to the offerings. “I’vebeen doing development work for 25 years, and I’ve never had anybody drop a project in my lap or a program in my lap that well designed and funded andconnected to industry, doing everything that is within our mission to do here,” he says.

A student practices welding on a piece of scrap metal during class.

The first eight-week course began in summer 2022 with 14 students, 10 of whomcompleted it. The first three years are funded by a Rotary Foundation global grant of over $56,000. Rancho Cielo has since received state and federalfunding to keep the program running, as well as $100,000 from donors connected to the Pebble Beach Concours with promises of more if Rancho Cielo cansuccessfully expand the program.

The plan is to increase the current 110 hours of instruction to 500 hours and thenumber of students enrolled each year to 24. The students are all part of the automotive program and learn the basics of modern car repair as well as classiccar repair. And all of them, according to retired Judge Phillips, “would be heading in the wrong direction if they hadn’t come on campus.”

Salinas is home to 160,000 people, including many migrants from Mexico who come to workin the valley’s farms. It’s the birthplace of John Steinbeck, whose book The Grapes of Wrath told of an earlier generation of migrants fleeing Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The Salinas Valley is stillknown for its agricultural industry, which earned it the nickname “salad bowl of the world,” but Phillips knows the city for another reason: gangs. “Some ofthese kids grew up in some areas that it’s almost impossible not to be involved in that, gangs have got that kind of influence,” says Phillips.

When Phillips confronted one student who had been reprimanded for associating withgangs, the student explained he had grown up with the gang members. Two of them were his cousins and lived next door. Rancho Cielo’s vocational training andsimilar programs can offer another path.

The idea to redirect young people away from the justice system is not new, saysNate Balis, director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In some ways, getting into trouble is a typical adolescent behavior, he explains. As such itis generally understood that society doesn’t want teenagers’ mistakes to haunt them later. “What we know is that when we respond to that with the juvenilejustice system, we get worse outcomes than if we responded without the juvenile justice system,” he says.

When young people get into trouble almost all of them need something to do thatsteers them back toward a positive path, Balis says. “And so programs that are about promoting youth development, promoting skill building,building strong relationships, those are the things we want for all young people,” he says.

That is what Rancho Cielo is trying to do. It isn’t always a straight path.

Around a month after entering the automotive program at Rancho Cielo, Natalia startedbacksliding, getting into trouble at school. Growing concerned, her case manager signed her up to talk to a therapist. Therapy was a new idea toNatalia, who says her parents had always told her she should simply talk to her siblings. Seeing a therapist was different. “I can’t express how needed thatwas for me,” she says.

Among other things, the therapist helped her become comfortable with pursuing herambitions despite what she sometimes felt were low expectations from others. “I like to think big,” she says. “I want to be proud of myself.” In the shop atRancho Cielo, Natalia finds that encouragement.

Jose Martinez searches a cabinet for the right tool.

After cutting the sheet of metal, Natalia and Jose Martinez, 17, examine a banged-upfender. Forgette taught them to use their fingers to feel the material. Jose, who has taken on the role of unofficial spokesperson for the class, came toRancho Cielo in February 2023 after falling behind in high school. “There would just be like, constant sitting” in school, he says. “I don’t really like doingthat, as I want to do something.”

Here he has learned how to figure out what’s wrong with the body of a car and fixit. He isn’t sure if he will work in the automotive industry, but he is sure he will be able to save himself money by fixing his own car. His classmate, AbelGalindo, also 17, has less to say about school — “it was like, whatever” — and more to say about classic cars. “I’m in love with old cars. Like, I wish Icould have an old car,” says Abel, who is from nearby King City.

Ross Merrill, president of the Laguna Seca Raceway Foundation, a nonprofit that helps finance improvements at the course, isn’t surprised by the interest.“There’s a car culture here in Monterey County that is world-renowned,” he says.

A third-generation Salinas farmer, Merrill grew up riding his bike to watch theraces at Laguna Seca. Now he races in them. Hoping to preserve that history, Merrill serves on the advisory board of the classic andantique auto repair program at Rancho Cielo. “It’s becoming a lost art,” he says. Not among the students at Rancho Cielo.

Elias Pineda is taking the course for the second time, in a more advanced form so hecan finish working on his 1997 GMC Sierra. The 18-year-old is smoothing the roof of the cab with another student, standing on a wood crate in the truck bedthat houses a speaker system he installed. Pineda also redid the suspension and overhauled several other things. Although his blue-green truck has an old bodystyle, it is not technically a classic car. Nevertheless, he considers it his presentation card, the piece of work he can point to when he goes job hunting.A Salinas native, Pineda has always been into trucks, muscle cars, “anything that involves four wheels and an engine.” Although he has yet to graduate, hehas already started doing freelance automotive work.

Steve Hughes (left) shows students and staff an antique car engine.

After Jesse Hoffman graduated from the program last year, the 19-year-old found workfixing Mazdas. From there he tried another car shop and more recently took a job building parts for airplanes. Although different,he says the skills he learned in the classic and antique auto repair program have helped him. “The bodywork part of it very much goes into working with theaviation side of everything,” he explains. Most importantly it is a career he enjoys. “I love it in every way,” he says.

Back at Rancho Cielo as class nears its end for the day, several horseless carriages— as the earliest automobiles are known — putter up. Steve Hughes, with the Salinas Valley chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, walks into the garage. Natalia bounds over. She wants to know if Hughes remembers her from an earlier visit (he does) andif he brought his vehicle (he did). His 1915 Locomobile needs constant attention.

Hughes serves on the program’s advisory board and regularly visits the class withfellow members of his club. They aren’t here for repairs; instead they offer the students rides.

Natalia takes shotgun in Hughes’ Locomobile, and two boys from class hop in the back.Hughes jokingly tells Natalia to press her finger to the dashboard so the vehicle will start. She knows her finger will not start the car, but she smilesand does it all the same. The car chortles to life and bounces down the road.

This story originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of Rotary magazine.


The Rotary International web site is:

District 5160 is:

The Durham Rotary Club site is:

The Rowel Editor may be contacted at:

The deadline for the Rowel 6:30 am on Wednesdays.

The Editor's photographs published in the Rowel are available, upon request, in their original file size.  Those published were substantially reduced in file size.