The cool cloudy day Tuesday, Aug. 13, couldn’t keep away warm feelings as the Grand Forks Rotary Noon Club celebrated its 100th anniversary by rededicating its gazebo, located in Rotary Park on the Greenway just off the Sorlie Bridge.
A group of about 15 Rotary Noon Club members met at the gazebo, which was built by the Rotary Club after the flood of 1997, to unveil a commemorative stone plaque.
“A few years ago our club wanted to update the structure here at the gazebo,” said Noon Club member and Grand Forks County State’s Attorney Haley Wamstad. “We worked very closely with the staff at the city of Grand Forks to secure funding to make this new gazebo an even better gazebo than the previous one, so first I’d like to say a big thank you to the city for their help and contributions to make this happen, as we certainly couldn’t have done it without them.”
The date the official charter of the Rotary Club was recognized was June 10, 1919, as reported by the Grand Forks Herald at that time.
In a speech to the gathered members, former Grand Forks Herald publisher Mike Jacobs noted: “The decision to found a Rotary Club, of course, brought a uniquely American tradition to Grand Forks, a local service club. Rotary was among the first of those sorts of inventions in the United States, and the Grand Forks club was a fairly early club in the organization.”
The particular focus of the Grand Forks Noon Club has been on education and for decades has sponsored a scholarship in music, helping many young people pursue that vocation.
“It would be hard, in fact impossible, to quantify what Rotary has done, just in this community, over its life here,” Jacobs said.
In addition to the scholarship, the group holds an annual fundraiser to buy coats for kids.
“They’re not chilly, well, they’re not cold -- they don’t freeze on their way to school in the winter,” said Jacobs in his speech, as he referred to the club’s “Rotary Wraps” service project.
Continuing with the club’s emphasis on education, the Grand Forks Rotary club also buys and distributes dictionaries to all the fourth-grade students in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. "Just last year, I made a specific note of it, as my daughter Emma attended fourth grade, we received in the mail, our dictionary," said Pete Haga, community and government relations officer for the city of Grand Forks.
“You know it’s a good day for our club and for the community, I think, there’s a lot of importance the Greenway has to the community, and our club wants to be a part of improving the community and making things a little bit better any way that we can,” Wamstad said.
As the rededication of the gazebo and unveiling of the stone plaque came to a close, some members went to Joe Black’s Bar and Grill at 118 N. Third St. in downtown Grand Forks, for drinks and dinner.
Rotary is a worldwide organization with about 30,000 clubs and nearly 1.2 million members. The Grand Forks Noon Club has a little over 30 members and meets at the Townhouse Motel at 710 First Ave. North in Grand Forks, on Tuesdays for lunch.