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Luncheon Meeting of Rotary Club of Cleveland; Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC) Meeting

On Thursday, March 24th, we went to a luncheon meeting of the Rotary Club of Cleveland that was held at Windows on the River in the Flats because our friend Mr. Ramesh Shah of the Association of Indian Physicians of Northeast Ohio (AIPNO) was giving a presentation on the progress of his organization which owed a lot to the IMG_9377contributions of the rotary clubs in Cleveland as well as those in India. Mr. Shah recalled visiting a rotary conference in India that was attended by almost 5,000 people. During his presentation Mr. Shah, who journeyed to India in January as part of a medical yatra (humanitarian mission or pilgrimage) with AIPNO, talked about the projects that AIPNO is involved with which included combating diarrhea diseases by providing for toilets for familes, distribution of sanitary pads to women, giving eye checks to 2,160 poor people and eye surgery to 200 of those. Indeed, AIPNO provides all sorts of services in areas concerning primary care, pediatrics, dental, ophthalmology, cardiology, oncology, and education.

Accompanying Mr. Shah on this day were many of our friends from the Indian community who are involved with AIPNO including his wife, Dr. Jaya Shah, M.D.; Mr. Pravin and Dr. Priti Mehta, M.D.; Dr. Gita Gidwani, M.D.; Mr. Surinder and Dr. Shanta Kampani, M.D. and Dr. Vijay and Brijmala Patel. IMG_9419AIPNO, we got to hear excellent speeches from three high school students who placed first, second and third in the Rotary Club's 4-way speech contests in which they spoke about various topics in light of these rotarian principles: is it the truth? is it fair to all concerned? will it build goodwill and better friendships? will it be beneficial to all concerned?

These young people were Mr. Anthony Harris from the Whitney M. Young Academy speaking about "the economy"; Mr. Anthony J. Pilla from St. Ignatius High School speaking about "troublesome words"; and Mr. Kevin P. McGrath, Jr. (who made it there despite having suffered a concussion last weekend) from IMG_9417St. Ignacius High School speaking about "a place for religion."

Before the program started, we talked for a moment with Mr. Ed Thomas, retired from the faculty of CSU, who recalled meeting with Ms. Margaret W. Wong back in 1981 regarding the start-up of a worthy non-profit and has been happily receiving holiday cards from her ever since then. On this day Mr.Thomas was recognized for his authorship of a book, "The History of Rotary District 6630: The "Home" of Arch C. Klumph" which was both quite ambitious and quite accomplished. Ms. Beverly Grant-Skrzynski, the rotary club president, said that his book was "a masterpiece and a true labor of love."

We commend Mr. Thomas just as we commend AIPNO, the Rotary Club of Cleveland, and its three young honorees.

On Thursday night we went to a meeting of the  where we were addressed by Mr. Richard McQueen, the President and CEO of the Akron Canton Airport (CAK).

He was introduced Mr. Christian Bernadotte, Founder and Chairman of SACC, who told us that tonight's program was part one of a trilogy of programs that SACC plans to do with the other two concerning lakefront development and the Cleveland-Hopkins Airport.

During his presentation Mr. McQueen talked about customer growth and the airlines making use of CAKIMG_9423 who are Allegiant, Southwest, American Airlines, Delta, and United as well as the destinations that they fly to.

He then talked about the master plan for CAK which involves spending $240 million over 20 years to get CAK ready to take advantage of future opportunities. This involves projects concerning the runways, ticket wing modernization, boarding gate upgrades and replacements, and parking improvements including some covered parking.

Lastly, he discussed the $502.3 million economic impact of CAK. It has been estimated that by the existence of CAK has created 3,086 jobs for the surrounding area resulting in a total payroll of $150.2 million and a generation of $50.7 million in total tax revenue.

To be sure in the course of the Q and A there was a question of the Brussels terrorist attack/tragedy. Mr. McQueen said that TSA has not raised the threat level here and he was comfortable with the security precautions already in place at CAK. He did say, however, that now just might be the safest time to travel to Europe because one can be sure that everyone and everything is on high alert for trouble over there.

In terms of international flights coming to CAK, Mr. McQueen did not seem very optimistic because CAK would have to pay themselves for customs operations and he wasn't sure that the demand for such flights was strong enough to make them worthwhile for this particular airport.

We talked to Mr. McQueen before the program started and found him to be a very engaging man. As it turned out, we were both at the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce dinner the night before and we both talked to Mr. Louis G. Berroteran from the Mayors' Association.

IMG_9420We also got a chance to visit with Ms. Marianne Bernadotte (the wife of Christian) who does community relations for SACC along with her son, Mr. Philip Bernadotte who does accounting for film production companies and would eventually like to get into the production end of it himself. We had a good time talking about movies with him.

Another person who was there was Ms. Gaye G. Ramstrom, Underwriting Account Manager at Ideastream who has attended the holiday party of Margaret W. Wong and Associates for the last three years.

What was really funny was when we talked to Mr. David Murrell because about two years ago we were working in a storage area and needed help moving a particularly heavy object. Mr. Murrell just happened to be there and he gave us a hand. We gave it other a big hug and agreed that our moving adventure was quite an experience and it was a glorious surprise to encounter each other again!


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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