Week of June 26, 2016


June 30 Meeting Reminder

Sergeant At Arms:  John Devlin

Thought for the Week:  Steve Jedlund

Program:  Sarah Gerdes, Youth Care

Sarah will tell us about this non-profit, multicultural organization dedicated to helping Minneapolis and St. Paul youth develop the education, employment, and leadership skills needed to make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.   One of the programs Sarah will tell us about is Camp Sunrise, which provides urban youth the opportunity to experience a residential wilderness camp at no cost.


June 23 Meeting Highlights


We welcomed Floyd Sjostrand, Dave Boedeke, and Mary Ruhme (Tommy’ Thompson’s daughter)

Thought for the Week

Jean Fox shared a variety of quotes with one central message:  "Everything has a purpose."

Honoring Anthony

Incoming President Chip Groth thanked Anthony Bradford for his year of service as Richfield Rotary President, and presented him with a Past President's Pin, badge, and gavel.  Chip noted that the Past President's Party will be in August, and will include a tour of the James J. Hill House in St. Paul.


Happy Dollars 

  • There were lots of Happy Dollars in appreciation of Anthony's service as President.
  • Chip Groth presented our newest member, Kirsten Nelson with her official membership badge.   Welcome, Kirsten!
  • Steve Larson attended a program called “Richfield Sings” at Groth Music, and said, “It’s the best event I have ever seen for young people.”  
  • John and Barb celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary.  John observed, “Most of those years have been good ones!”

Program:  Tommy Thompson - "The Minneapolis Freeway Story”

This presentation served as a dry run for a presentation Tommy will be giving to federal and state Department of Transportation officials, who contacted Tommy because he is the only person involved in the construction of the Minneapolis freeway system who is still living.   

Tommy started with a brief history of Minneapolis, which was founded in 1855.  Early influentials included Col. John Stevens, who laid out Minneapolis’ first roads.  In response to the city’s expansion, Tom Lowry built the streetcar system in 1880.  Originally the streetcars were pulled by horses, but in 1894 they were electrified.  The density of the city today follows the old streetcar tracks, which were removed in 1954 due to the growth of automobiles.  

The automobile started making an impression on the city in the 1920's and 30’s, but proliferated greatly after World War II when “the suburbs exploded” and people drove into the city to work, creating “a horrendous traffic problem.”  Tommy noted, “In just one year (1950), the number of cars in Hennepin County doubled.”

It was during this time period that Tommy started working for the City of Minneapolis.  A civil engineer, Tommy was originally hired to build a water main system but after a year was put in charge of traffic.   One-way streets were instituted to regulate traffic flow, but there was a need for a major throughway in addition to Olson Memorial Highway, the only major highway through the city at that time.  Passage of the Eisenhower Defense Bill provided $39 million to design and fund construction of the Interstate Highway System through Minneapolis.

Tommy noted that, while Eisenhower envisioned a major system to connect large cities across the country, “he didn't have any vision of what would occur within cities.”  Tommy came up with a “circle system” to keep traffic out of the downtown area.   The original plan called for the construction of 35W, 94 to St. Paul, Hiawatha, and another freeway to the southwest.  However, due to a 13-year limitation on use of the funds, and limited additional funds, the only major highway completed was 35W.  Tommy still sees a problem to the southwest and feels that “the State of MN has neglected the freeway system.”

Tommy shared a few stories from his work with the freeway system:

    • Tommy met with Polish residents of North Minneapolis to discuss their concerns about losing homes to the freeway.  After a long meeting that included a big, late night meal, they said they would back the program.
    • Residents of Prospect Park wanted to design their own section of freeway.  The section they designed only lasted 2 years before it had to be replaced.
    • Tommy had a dream of turning Nicollet Island into a type of "Williamsburg" historic village; however, the dream was never realized.
    • Numerous designs for 35W were rejected, e.g. to avoid expensive homes along Bryant Avenue, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts on 3rd Avenue, and the many large churches downtown.  The 5th Avenue route ended up being selected.
    • After time and money ran out to complete 35W, Tommy sought help from Rep. John Blatnik, who chaired the powerful Public Works Committee in Congress.  Blatnik introduced a bill, which was approved unanimously without discussion, a sign of his power as chair.  
    • Tommy learned a lot about construction techniques.  “Some surfaces worked; some didn’t.”

And about that 90 degree merge between 35W and 94?  Tommy said, “The 94/35W merge worked fine originally, but it was never improved as traffic increased.”  He added, “The biggest problem is the Lowry Hill Tunnel, which was built to avoid having to remove three major churches in the area.

Tommy ended his presentation on a cautionary note.  “We will have more problems like the 35W bridge collapse if the freeway system isn 't kept up.”  There is no doubt that Tommy will tell the DOT officials like it is!



9th Annual Nari Gunjan Dinner and Silent Auction

Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 6-9 PM

Indian Zayka Restaurant

1260 Town Centre Drive

Eagan MN 55123

  • COST:  $75.00 per person, of which $50 is a charitable contribution.  

  • Checks payable to the Bloomington Rotary Club Foundation, with Nari Gunjan in the memo space.

  • RSVP to Karen Moore via e-mail or phone (651-437-1338) 

  • If you can't attend the dinner, consider making a donation; mail to Karen Moore at 1350 Rosemary Court, Hastings MN 55033


The Richfield Rotary Foundation (RRF) Board met last week and decided to undertake a fund drive for the benefit of both the RRF and The Rotary Foundation (TRF).   

The last joint fund drive was conducted in the spring of 2015, with contributions extending through the 2015-2016 program year.   This fund drive is intended to extend and build upon contributions made in 2015-2016.

The Rotary International website highlights the importance of contributions to TRF, including Polio Plus:

The Rotary Foundation transforms your gifts into projects that change lives both close to home and around the world. As the charitable arm of Rotary, we tap into a global network of Rotarians who invest their time, money, and expertise into our priorities, such as eradicating polio and promoting peace. Foundation grants empower Rotarians to approach challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition with sustainable solutions that leave a lasting impact.

While TRF’s reach is broad in scope. our own Richfield Rotary Foundation (RRF) supports charitable projects and activities of the Richfield Rotary Club, which has been serving our local community for the past 65 years.  A gift to the Richfield Rotary Foundation will help our club continue its legacy of service to the Richfield community.   

As noted in an e-mail from incoming President Chip Groth, members are encouraged to complete and return the attached pledge form to either Chip or RRF President Lynne Alexander at your earliest convenience.   Questions may be directed to either Lynne or Chip.




Richfield Rotary Embraces "Service Above Self"




Approximately 1,000 blind and visually impaired people from across the United States and several foreign countries are coming to Minneapolis for the 2016 conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind, scheduled for June 30 - July 10 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

Rotarians are invited to be among the many sighted volunteers needed to assist with the conference.  Volunteers should be able to work a three to four hour shift (7-11AM, 11AM-3PM), 3-7PM, 7-11PM)

Individual Rotarians can sign up online to volunteer throughout the 10-day conference at  However, because of our proximity to the airport, Richfield Rotarians are encouraged to help welcome / guide conference attendees arriving at MSP (June 30 – July 3) and/ or to return conference attendees to the airport (July 8-9).  

Click here for more details.  Note:  If you volunteer to help out at MSP, please notify Barb Devlin so she can arrange for security clearance.  Thank you in advance for your help!


Bread of Hope

The Bread of Hope initiative provides unsold bread from Lakewinds Cooperative to Hope Presbyterian Church for the Loaves and Fishes evening meal.  The Rotary, Optimists and Lions Clubs along with Headway Family Services each deliver bread one day per week, with Rotary delivering on Thursday morning following our regular meeting.  
Following is the list of delivery dates and volunteers through July:

June 30 - John Devlin 

July  7 - Kirsten Nelson

July 14 - Jean Fox

July 21 - Anthony Bradford

July 28 - Barb Devlin

Please let Barb Devlin know if you can volunteer on August 4, 11, or 25.  (We have a volunteer for August 18.)

Click here to review the Bread of Hope procedures.  
Support Richfield Rotary Foundation through Amazon Smile

Richfield Rotary members and friends - here is a great way to help support our foundation and its good works as you do your online shopping.  You do not need to be a member of Richfield Rotary to participate.

  • Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the Richfield Rotary Foundation Inc whenever you shop on AmazonSmile.
  • AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.
  • Support the Richfield Rotary Foundation by doing your shopping at

Please click here to get started, and share this information with your friends so they can start supporting Richfield Rotary as well!

Meeting Assignments through August 2016
Thought for Week
Sergeant at Arms
NOTE:   Please notify Barb Devlin of your program topic and speaker, for inclusion in the e-Spokester.  If you cannot cover your assignment, please exchange with someone else and let Barb Devlin know.  Thank you.
Upcoming Programs and Thought for the Week
Upcoming Programs
There are some wonderful programs coming up!  Be sure to attend, and bring guests with you!!


July 7 - Rob Williams, Executive Director, The Sheridan Story, a non-profit that leverages community and school partnerships to fight child hunger by providing a weekend's supply of food to hungry children.

July 14 - Kirsten Nelson - "Movement" - In her new member vocational presentation, Kirsten will tell us about the importance of movement from a chiropractor's perspective.  

July 21Alicia Siemens, CEO and Co-Founder of Shema GBC, a non-profit working to address and alleviate extreme poverty and human trafficking through ethical textile manufacturing and by documenting the work and those involved globally through film.  

July 28 - Club Assembly

Thought for the Week
(In preparation for our program on Youth Cares)
Instead of locking people up and throwing away the key,
it's important to invest in them and show them another way -
show them what they can do,
instead of telling them what they can't do.
Because by investing in youth,
we're investing into the future of this great nation
of the United States of America.
Q'orianka Kilcher
Window on Rotary


It is tremendously important to Rotary's future that our role in the eradication of polio be recognized.  The more we are known for what we've achieved, the more we'll be able to attract the partners, the funding, and, most important, the members to achieve even more."


John Germ, 2016-2017 President, Rotary International

The Four-Way Test of the Things we Think, Say or Do

 1.  Is it the truth?

2.  Is it fair to all concerned?

3.  Will it build good will and better friendships?

4.  Will it be beneficial to all concerned?


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Barb Devlin

Club Information
Welcome to our Club!
Service Above Self
We meet Thursdays at 7:15 AM
Richfield Bloomington Honda - Use service entrance on east side of building
501 W 77th St
Second Floor Conference Room
Richfield, MN  55423
United States
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Venue Map

Russell Hampton
National Awards Services Inc.