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Kiwanis celebrate 90 years

April 9, 2011
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - For the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, Saturday night was a time for reflecting on many projects, fundraisers and good times over the years and for looking to the future.

The club was joined by many area Kiwanis leaders and members at a dinner celebrating their 90th anniversary and held at the Serbian American Cultural Center.

Jacie Ridgley, the club's president, said the club was begun in 1921, when a group of Wheeling Kiwanians contacted about 50 business and professional men in Wellsburg about forming a chapter there.

Article Photos

Warren Scott
90 YEARS?OF?SERVICE — Members of the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club celebrated 90 years of service at a dinner Saturday at the Serbian American Cultural Center attended by Kiwanis District Governor Kevin Dean and many other Kiwanis leaders and members. Current members of the club included, from left, front: Marilyn McGowan, Carol Churchman, past president; Jacie Ridgley, president; Janice Smith, secretary; Linda Caldrone, president-elect; and Audrae Bryant; and back: Phil Consalvo, Sean Jackson, treasurer; Leon Cox, vice president; Bill Shannon, Dean, Nat “Sonny” Marino, Bob Wall and Bob Haas.

The club has been involved in establishing equipment and shelters at area parks, helped to launch Wellsburg's Fourth of July celebration and the former Oil Can Derby and has participated in the Wellsburg Applefest since its first year.

Bob Haas, a 36-year member, recalled the club initially served chicken dinners at the Applefest before switching to apple pies.

"We started with 400 and we were scared to death (that) we had too many," he said, adding not only did the club sell all of the pies, but it also has increased the quantity each year since.

"I think the most we sold was 2,400. That's a lot of pies in one weekend," Haas said.

Asked what he enjoys most about the club, 52-year member Phil Consalvo said, "All of the projects, which were a lot of fun and a good money-maker for the community."

Ridgley noted the club has supported such causes as Special Olympics, Boy Scouts, Easter Seals, the Salvation Army and the Brooke County Opportunity Center through funds raised by such annual events as its chicken barbecue, pancake supper and rose sale.

The club also sells luminaria at Christmas as well as placing hundreds of them along state Route 2 in Wellsburg, the Wellsburg Town Square and outside local churches and schools.

At Saturday's dinner State Del. Tim Ennis, D-Brooke, presented state House and Senate resolutions introduced by state Sens. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, and Orphy Klempa, D-Wheeling; state Del. Roy Givens, D-Brooke; and himself recognizing the club for its many years of service to the community.

Ridgely said the club's success is due to the efforts of many members over the years. She noted in 1987 female members were accepted, and Becky Bell of Wellsburg became its first woman president in 1991.

Past president Susan Churchman, who joined the club six years ago, said it was the first time she had led such a group, but the job was made easy by her hard working fellow members.

"It was very easy being president because the jobs were always done. It's a very well oiled machine. Everybody has their event to chair and everybody works," she said.

Also on hand was Annie Parsons, a fourth-grader at Hooverson Heights Primary School, one of many youth who have been influenced by the club through its formation of several school community service clubs.

They include K-Kids chapters at Wellsburg and Franklin primary schools and this year, Hooverson Heights Primary School; the Brooke High School Key Club and a Circle K chapter at Bethany College.

Beech Bottom Councilman Greg Sheperd said the positive experiences he had as a member and leader of Key Club and Circle K led him to become Circle K district administrator now.

His wife, Tara, joked that Greg wouldn't marry her unless she became a Kiwanis member. She now serves as Kiwanis' lieutenant district governor.

Leon Cox, who joined the club in 1969 and served as the Key Club's adviser for 32 years, said he's pleased when he hears of former members becoming involved in Kiwanis.

Bill Shannon, a 42-year member of the club, said he has enjoyed serving as chaperone, with other Kiwanians, on field trips by Wellsburg Primary School youth and setting up luminaria with the help of the Key Club.

All of the youth clubs were formed to encourage children and teens to become involved in Kiwanis in the future but primarily to promote an interest in community service.

Janice Smith, a 23-year member who oversees two K-Kids clubs, said the three chapters are collecting pop can tabs to be redeemed at a recycling business for funds to help Austin Powell, a Colliers boy who has suffered from a brain tumor.

"It shows how kids can band together to change the life of one child," she said, adding it's in keeping with Kiwanis International's motto, "Serving the children of the world."

Attendees got a look at Wellsburg Kiwanis history through a display of photos and memorabilia provided by Ruby Greathouse of the Brooke County Museum; and were entertained by the Brooke High School Madrigal Choir.

Serving as keynote speaker, Kiwanis District Governor Kevin Dean encouraged members to become involved with Project Eliminate.

A joint venture with UNICEF, the program aims to eliminate the occurrence of neonatal tetanus, an infectious disease that kills an infant every nine minutes in any of 39 countries that lack the medical resources to fight it.

Dean said it costs about $1.90 for three vaccinations against it, and Kiwanis International and UNICEF have set a goal of raising $110 million over the next four years to eradicate the disease, hoping to repeat the success they have had in eliminating iodine deficiency throughout the world.

He applauded the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club for its support of projects both local and international.

Dean told the group, "You have raised the bar for yourself and the next 90 years starts tonight. I can't wait to see what you do."

(Scott can be contacted at

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