Rotarians dedicate new meeting place

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS – With an almost full turnout of its active membership, the Kannapolis Rotary Club dedicated its new downtown meeting place in Cannon Village on Tuesday.
The new Kannapolis Rotary Hall is located at 211 West Ave.
Until last year, the space was a Brass Exchange store.
Members of Kannapolis Rotary, under the leadership of President Tom Kincaid, spent evenings removing nails, spackling walls and painting the interior of the former store.
The club’s first meeting of the new year took place in its new home.
“What we are initiating today is not a Rotary restaurant or clubhouse,” Rick Hoffarth, pastor of Bethpage Presbyterian of Kannapolis, told the crowd. “Rather, (the hall) is the new base of operations, the new launch pad for greater service and fellowship with our community and world.”
Rotary’s district governor, Firoz Peera, said that the city’s Rotary chapter was adapting to meet citizens’ needs, just as Kannapolis has reinvented itself to meet a changing world.
The meeting space is far bigger than the club has had in recent decades.
“The visibility for our Rotary Club is excellent,” said Gwynn McCombs, club member and vice president of membership and marketing of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Since one of Rotary’s goals is to build connections among local businesspeople, Kincaid said the move made sense.
“I see (the move) as supporting the downtown and supporting the Research Campus by being more visible,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid, who is also a member of the Kannapolis City Council, said this was the first time in his years of being a club member that Kannapolis Rotary has met downtown.
For many years, the club met each Tuesday at The Club at Irish Creek, formerly the Kannapolis Country Club.
Kincaid said he felt that the former location might have sent the wrong message to the community about the Rotary’s goals.
Rotary is an international organization of businesspeople that seeks to foster partnerships and charitable work in communities and worldwide.
The Rotary Foundation, the group’s charitable trust, had revenues of $59.9 million in its 2008-09 fiscal year.
Last year, Kannapolis Rotary completed work on the Emergency Medical Response Unit, a trailer equipped with medical supplies and equipment.
It was donated to the Presbytery of Charlotte for use in its disaster relief efforts.
On beginning his one-year term as Kannapolis Rotary president last summer, Kincaid acted to try to increase the organization’s visibility and membership.
He moved meetings to a cafeteria space at the UNC-Chapel Hill building on the North Carolina Research Campus.
And he began encouraging the club to increase its membership, which had been declining.
Tuesday, Fleming became the 14th new member to come in under Kincaid’s presidency.
The goal is 25 new members before July.
Peera told members that if they reached that goal, he would make a $1,500 donation to the club’s charitable fund.
Kincaid said that the move to downtown puts the Rotary Club in a position to support local businesses and encourage more community involvement.
“We have something that Rotary can build on going into the future,” Kincaid said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.