2010-11 Qtr 3 (Jan-Mar)
January 5, 2011 – Today’s guest speaker was Rusty Cloutier, President and CEO of MidSouth Bank (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”).
Traditionally, our club has Rotarian Gene Fortier line up the guest speakers for the first few weeks of each year giving our members their take on the economic outlook for Lafayette. Rusty spoke to the club saying our economy looks good and getting better because our new government (new House of Representatives elected this past November) will do less resulting in no new cap and trade and no new banking regulations. Regarding the Louisiana economy, “things are going to be pretty good here” he said. There will be no alternative fuels at a reasonable price, “they just don’t work” he said. Wind turbines don’t work and they kill over 10,000 birds a year (the BP oil spill killed and estimated 2,000 birds). The sugar cane industry is doing well and the seafood industry is coming back (only the oyster and crabs were affected by the oil spill).
The bad news we still have to tackle is Obamacare and the death panels. 60-70% of national healthcare costs go to the people with less than 6 weeks left to live.
The housing industry is a tough issue. It’s an American thing to own your home (not like that in other countries). For many reasons, some people don’t need to own and should rent.
The problem we face is GOVERNMENT SPENDING. The teacher’s pension fund is $17Billion in the hole and we’re broke. We have too many state universities. The TEA party wants to cut federal spending. The new majority of Republicans in the State Legislature will cut the state budget. It’s not a revenue problem, it’s a spending problem. There are states, counties and cities that are broke. California will go bankrupt. With too much spending, there are deficits. New taxes will come up. In Louisiana, there is talk of a new inventory tax that will result in companies leaving. New taxes will not solve the problem. We’ll see more toll roads like in Texas. Rusty said “we better start making the tough decisions in this state”.
January 12, 2011 – Today’s guest speaker was William “Bill” Fenstermaker with CH Fenstermaker and Associates (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Bill spoke about Lafayette and Blue Prints Louisiana. He said “the Lafayette community has high standards”. It has the largest number of members in LABI (Louisiana Association of Business and Industry). The Lafayette community is somewhat entrepreneurial, conservative and “the people here care” he said. The Blue Prints Louisiana had creditability throughout Louisiana because it was sold by Lafayette and Lafayette is a leader. They raised more than $10 Million because ethics is number one in Louisiana and to do business, you need trust.
“Fiber to the Home” is complete. No city in the United States has the quality of fiber to the home like Lafayette. Now, Lafayette can be a model for other cities. The Da Vinci project called Lafayette “The city of the future” because of our fiber connectivity.
January 5, 2011 – At today’s meeting we inducted a new member, Salvation Army Capt. August Pillsbury (see his picture in the Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). August moved from Nashville and has been living in Lafayette for the past 6 months. He says the people here have welcomed he and his wife with open arms.
Today’s guest speaker was Don Briggs, President of Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Don spoke of the world supply and demand of oil has increased to around 88-89 Million barrels per day with the US demand remaining flat at 23 million barrels per day and China and India increasing their demands on oil. The increase in price today is not about our use here in the U.S. but because China/India have increased their usage, not because of speculators.
Here in Louisiana, the Hanesville shale area is booming. “Many from here are working up there” Don said. Natural gas price is down because of the supply. With oil prices increasing and natural gas decreasing, we’ll see a shift more to natural gas usage. Our Louisiana companies service all over the U.S. The great part of Lafayette is that we are in the industry, we have the gulf and 50% of all the fuel flows through Louisiana.
The tuff part is the Obama administration’s feelings about natural gas and the process to get it. “They do not like our industry” he said, “one man shut down billions of dollars in investments in the industry.” Today, the process of fracturing the shale to retrieve the natural gas is under attack by extreme environmentalists who want it regulated not by the state but by the EPA. Also, horizontal drilling will stop if the drilling companies lose their severance tax exemptions. 51% of deep water rigs are owned by independent oil companies, not BP/Shell/Exxon (the big companies). Big oil companies can relocate to other parts of the world, not like the independent companies. The service and independent oil companies are hanging on, waiting to see what the Obama administration will do next. Nothing will change until the administration attitude changes. Until then, we’ll see more rigs leave.
January 26, 2011 –Today’s guest speaker was Don Bacque of Van Eaton & Romero (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Don spoke of the housing market in the Lafayette area. News reports on the state of housing says that the reason the stock market is down today is because the average price of a home is still down…Don says, “that is not relevant at all.” “Housing is not subject to interstate commerce, it’s local” he said. The number of home sales here in Lafayette parish have leveled off at around 2265 homes per year. It had increased in the three years after Hurricane Katrina, but returned to the overall trend in the past three years. The average sale price of a home in 2010 decreased from $194, 844 to $192,771 partly because people have become more frugal with their home purchases, “the McMansion phase is over” he said. People are now buying what they can afford and what the mortgage companies will lend them. The number of new listings dropped from 3633 in 2009 to 3583 in 2010 with 4 out of 10 homes selling under distress and fewer homes coming on the market. It was a seller’s market back in 1991-1999, but it became a buyer’s market from 2000 to today because buyer’s have more to choose. This was because new developments started around 2000. In 2010, there were 3583 new listings compared to 2265 houses sold. Today, they are building lower value, smaller homes. The smaller the home value, the quicker the sale and homes with a value of over $1Million may take over 3 years to sell. In the end, 2011 will not be much different from 2010, and 2012 could be a breakout year depending on what happens in the oil industry.
February 2, 2011 – Our guest speaker today was Stewart Clark from Merrill Lynch and past president of our club(see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Stewart spoke to the club last year and gave us the results of the predict the Dow contest. The winner gets free club dues for one month. But first, he reported on the economics of the past year…”new home sales are down from 1.7 million to 500,000 along with going from 17million auto sales to 9 million and now up to 12million” he said. “Things are turning around…unemployment is at 9.7%, corporate earnings are up and new claims for unemployment is down.” It’s a slow recovery, the money market is depressed, interest rates to stay around 3-4% on a 10 yr bond. Debt as a percentage of GDP is close to 100% (Greece is at 120%), to increase taxes now is not a good idea.
Municipal bonds may have trouble…states/cities must cut back and many may default on bond payments….”therefore, there are some headwinds to look out for in 2011” he said. The key is to be diversified, in high quality investments.
As for the top stock picks…”energy, financial, healthcare, utilities(had struggled some)” he said. “The biggest thing to worry about is fear in an industry (like the financial market crash or state/city/country defaults…things like this cause people to go to the sideline with their money.” To get things going better, we need no negative surprises but positive surprises like unemployment less than 8%.
At the end of his talk, Stewart awarded Rotarian Lee Womack for predicting the Dow better than 20 other Rotarians last year. Lee predicted a Dow of 11,500 and as of the first of the year, it was 11,578.
February 9, 2011 – Our guest speaker today was Bud Barrow, CEO of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”).
Bud spoke to the club about the permit to build a $250+million new facility located on Ambassador Caffery Parkway across from St. Thomas More and down the street from Women’s and Children’s Hospital. He also spoke on the basics of healthcare reform…”it’s very political” he said. “We have a real problem and a real need for healthcare reform.” One third of the cost is due to government regulation. 16 to 17% of GDP goes to healthcare. Doing nothing is a terrible decision. Life expectancy in the early 1960’s when Medicare began was 64 ½…now it’s 74. We can’t sustain government spending towards healthcare. An unpopular approach is to increase the eligibility age to 70 or 70 or 72 or 73…. Our government set up a system that’s bound to fail.
Doctors make more money by seeing more patients. Hospitals are the same…the more they do, the more money they make. We all need to focus on wellness and take care of ourselves.
The new Our Lady of Lourdes hospital will be opening June 25th …they are taking ownership in mid April to train and familiarize the staff on the new facility.
Six Franciscan nuns started the first hospital in Louisiana when they opened St. Francis Hospital in Monroe. They later built Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge and then built Our Lady of Lourdes here in Lafayette. They now have over 10,000 employees and start every meeting with a prayer. “That’s pretty cool to do that” Bud said.
They will be selling the old facility. But there is some interest in the old facility…local veterans hospital? Or a UL Nursing facility?
February 16, 2011 – Today’s guest speakers were our very own Rotarians Ted Hoyt and Wynn Phillips (see their pictures in the Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Ted, an Estate Tax Attorney, spoke first about the changes in this year estate taxes. At the state level, there were two taxes that were repealed. At the federal level the estate tax is zero for the first $5 Million per person and $10 Million per couple. The gift tax is now tax free for the first $13,000 per year per person with a life time exemption that was $1 Million and now $5 Million. Ted advised the members of good estate planning that includes a “durable power of attorney” for each spouse of a couple…for example, if one spouse has a debilitating stroke, and the other spouse needs the funds from the stroke victim’s IRA…without the durable power of attorney, they would have to interdict which would incur legal fees, court costs, CPA fees, etc. But with the durable power of attorney you can save a lot of money.
Wynn spoke of the new items on the 2010 form 1040. He told us the Roth IRA rollovers are no longer restricted, the interest is tax free, the income from it can be spread out over 2 years. He said the self-employed health insurance is deductable. There is a new tax credit (from Obamacare) that gives a 35% credit of premiums paid and can be taken against regular and alternative minimum tax, but very few will be able to use this. You no longer lose part of your deduction for personal exemptions and itemized deductions. There is the homebuyer credit for eligible the first-time homebuyers and enhanced small business expensing to help them quickly recover the cost of capital outlays in the year they are made instead of recovering them through depreciation.
Wynn said the 2010 tax law from the lame-duck session was silly because the current tax rates will be retained for two years and it’s temporary. Therefore, it will not stimulate the economy. The Alternative Minimum Tax for 2010 and 2011 will stay at current levels. The law extends the $1,000 child tax credit is extended along with expanding the earned income credit for larger families, and the higher education tax credit is extended. Businesses can write off 100% of their equipment and machinery purchases for property placed into service after September 8, 2010 through December 31, 2011 (this is because we now own GM and so most will buy their vehicles this year).
February 23, 2011 – Today’s guest speaker was Flo Meadows, Chairman of the Board for the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce (see her picture in the Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Flo is a member of our Rotary downtown club and a GSE team member to India in March of 1988. She spoke of the Chamber’s 80th active year and the divisions the Chamber employs. The Building Community conference the Chamber is having in Lake Charles to help plan the future of Lafayette. Through the Governmental Affairs division of the Chamber, they will have input on legislation at the state capitol dealing with reapportionment this year. Lafayette parish has 5 house districts and 2 senate districts which should increase because our population has significantly grown. The Chamber is actively seeking a congressional district that includes Lafayette and Lake Charles together. This is in line with the Acadiana Regional Alliance. As for the Chamber’s involvement in education in our area, they believe in relationship building with the local school board and having Chamber members attending the school board meetings. Innovation in Lafayette is among the top 10 in the South with our LITE and fiber to the home. Flo said “we’re going to aggressively rise to the challenge to improve our community”.
March 2, 2011 – We started today’s meeting with the induction of new member Mike Gregory (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Mike is the husband of Nancy and the father of Alex and Andrew. He is the general manager of the Musson-Patout auto dealership in New Iberia and on the board of directors for Lafayette Little League.
Our guest speaker was Rotarian Dr. Pat Magee discussing his Medical Missions to Mexico. Pat has been on 14 Medical Missions to Mexico and one Medical Mission to Nicaragua. This year, he will be going to Liberia, on the west coast of Africa with Change Agent Network at a cost of $5,000. He showed us a video of the people he has encountered while on his medical missions. “These people live a simple life and they are happy” he said. They are very hard workers, making their own very colorful clothes that are unique to their areas and they are very proud of their new glasses they get from Pat. It was a very interesting video, and we learned Pat is doing a very good job on his missions.
March 9, 2011 – Today’s guest speakers were Eric Wowoh & Heather Lecky from Change Agent Network. Eric is from Liberia in South Africa. In 1989, civil war destroyed much of his country. He was separated from his parents during that time and sent to a refugee camp where he lived for 12 years. He came to the United States in August of 2006 with the help of the Catholic Church. Four years ago he started Change Agent Network to “pay it forward”.
Here, he learned about computers and then taught it to others at a school he opened in Liberia. He has collected donated computers, other hardware and software for his school. The Rotary Club of Lafayette North has donated benches for his classrooms, black boards, bookshelves and a water well. They have also donated a motor scooter for a teacher to get to and from the school. The Abbeville Rotary club donated more than 30,000 books. The Terrebone Parish Rotary sunrise club donated 200 computers.
Eric showed us a video of Heather and others on a visit to the school in Liberia. The school is free of charge to the students in classes with 70-75 students. “There is one book for the teacher” he said. They now have over 40,000 books donated to the school and they are currently building a library. They were able to donated some computers to the Liberia’s national police who were very grateful to receive them. They also have an adult literacy program and are in the process of building a high school with 13 classrooms. This high school is being built by locals so that they may build a sense of ownership and pride. It cost $80 per month for one teacher in their school (the average minimum wage there is $100/month). All of this is funded by donations from the United States. You can go to www.changeagentlive.org
to learn more about this wonderful organization.
March 16, 2011 – We started today’s meeting with the induction of new member Adam Lofton (see his picture in the Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”).
Today’s guest speaker was Rotarian Dr. Russell Romero who discussed his Medical Missions to Mexico (see his picture in the Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Dr. Russell showed us a video of what goes on when putting together a mission trip. The video is a Medical Dental Optical Trip to Mexico showing the medical group, giving a sense of the local people and the area, the facility and operating rooms, patients, nurses, children and babies, pre-op and post op, dental students from the United States, and the eye clinic (started by our very own Rotarian Dr. Pat Magee). The video even showed the cooks in full commercial kitchens.
For almost two decades, volunteers in healthcare from different parts of the United States return year after year to a small town in the state of Guerrero in Southern Mexico. There is clearly a “mysterious something” that draws them like migratory waterfowl year after year to serve their neighbors to the South. The care they offer to the poor of the Atoyac de Alvarez is as priceless as the love and appreciation they receive from their patients as well as from one another. There exists an uncommon commitment and comradery that has no bounds. Some are hesitant to go or to return and all are sad to leave. For most, mere words would be quite inadequate to describe this experience as well as their long distance friendships. As Reverand Larry Myers once said, “the cause is so much greater than the sacrifice”.
Non of this could have been done without the help and support from several Rotary clubs starting with the Rotary Club of Lafayette South in which we are proud to have Dr. Russell as a member.
March 23, 2011 – Today’s guest speaker was Rotarian Robert Daigle (see his picture in Photo Gallery under “2010-11 Meetings”). Robert started by saying the documents to purchase the land that eventually became River Ranch was signed 14 years ago. At that time, they were discussing with the Bayou Vermillion District the idea of not privatizing some river front…to have it mix use and accessible to the public.
Today, they are working on the newest phase of River Ranch called The Banks…a 1500 feet of water front property zoned BT (Business Transitional). It is an area located on both sides of Camellia Boulevard at the Vermillion River. It will include a park area with walking/jogging track on both sides of Camellia Boulevard going under the bridge. The Banks will also have two restaurant sites. Cochon’s Restaurant of New Orleans has agreed to open a restaurant at the Banks and will open on or about September 1st. Robert is hoping to announce the 2nd restaurant with the right “fit” for this new area in the next 3-4 months. . On the housing side, the Banks will have small cottages and 5 live/work units. “These days, people are looking for smaller lots with smaller houses” he said.
Future housing projects include senior housing (critical to mixed use), professional/living units behind American Bank and Burger Smith with about 90 units with 1/3 consisting of assisted living, 1/3 senior living and 1/3 commercial.
March 30, 2011 – Today’s meeting was a “Club Assembly”, a refresher for all members and great for our new members to see what our club is all about. We watched a slide show on “Building Communities, Bridging Continents”. Club President Jerry Carlson and President Elect Brandon Hyde then went over the 5 Avenues of Service for our club:
· Club Service – building fellowship ensuring the effective functions of the club which includes our meetings, thanksgiving baskets, our Special Olympics participation, and our Christmas Party
· Vocational Service – members serving others through their professions aspiring to practice high ethical standards. Our members believe we should work more on this area to recognize someone for outstanding service to or in our community.
· Community Service – club projects and activities that help improve life in the local community. Here we assist in projects like…The Game, DREAMS and shoes for the homeless school students (just to name a few).
· International Service – to expand Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the world and promote world understanding and peace includes our club’s two medical Missions to Mexico, our member’s donations to Polio Plus, matching grants for water well in Africa and the shelter boxes for Haiti.
· New Generations – focuses on the youth to recognize and change implemented by the youth and young adults involved in leadership. Our club participates by recognizing the top students from all the Lafayette area high schools, participating in Camp RYLA, offering three scholarships to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, assisting the Rotaract club at the college level, newspapers in the classroom to promote literacy and many other projects.
After going over the club’s list of committees and their chairs, President Jerry offered any member who was interested in any area of service to contact him or President elect Brandon for more information.