‘Macon North’ Rotary Club holds its first meeting

lfabian@macon.comJanuary 9, 2014 

The new year brings a new beginning for one local Rotary Club.

With the unfurling of a royal blue banner Thursday afternoon at Idle Hour Country Club, the Macon North Rotary Club was born.

The club is a reincarnation of the Uptown Macon Rotary Club that formed nearly eight years ago.

“I think it better identifies us,” said Mark Rowland, president-elect of the new club. “Unless you’re in Manhattan, where is uptown?”

In 2006, some members branched off from the Downtown Macon Rotary Club and started meeting at the Goodwill Conference Center in west Macon before moving to the country club in north Macon.

After Max Wood became president last year, he pitched the idea of changing the name.

“When you’re the third club in a medium-sized city, we felt the geographic location was important, especially for people coming into town looking for clubs,” Wood said.

Nearly 40 Rotarians gathered for the lunch assembly Thursday when the new club was launched.

At each place setting sat a small Uptown Macon Rotary Club blue banner trimmed in gold fringe.

“Take those home. They are collector’s items,” Rotary District Governor Gary Smith of Fitzgerald told the members.

Smith had to sign off on the change, which officially took effect Dec. 31 after a two-thirds vote of the assembly Nov. 7.

“I certainly support their decision,” Smith said last week. “Clubs have their own personality, but they all do such great work.”

Smith also thanked the Macon North club for helping grow membership in his district where the rolls have dwindled in recent years.

At the next meeting, Realtor Andy Greenway is expected to officially join the new club.

“I just felt like I needed to get back involved in the Macon community,” Greenway said.

Not only did he have friends in the club, the meeting location was closer to his office, he said.

Downtown Macon Rotarian and Assistant Governor Elizabeth Hardin presented Wood with a certificate bearing the new name.

“A new club with an old identity,” Hardin said. “The club has a great history.”

More than 100 years ago, prominent Macon business leaders formed the Macon Rotary Club, which had its first official meeting in January 1914. That group now meets Mondays at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

The Rotary Club of Downtown Macon followed in 1994 and meets Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. at the Monument Room of the Macon Coliseum.

Club members often attend other clubs if they have a scheduling conflict during their regular meeting.

Thursday, photographer Horace Holmes from the Downtown Macon club visited Macon North and took pictures of the historic occasion.

“We are one club in three different locations, is what I like to say,” Holmes said. “We are all guided by the same four-way test.”

Rotarians pledge to consider the following questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Cal Hays, a charter member of the Uptown Macon Club and its first president, was a little sentimental about the change.

“I’m fine with it,” he said. “Things change and you have to keep moving up.”

Wood, who will remain president until Rowland takes over in July, hopes the change will give Macon’s newest club a boost.

“We thought this was a way to kind of stand out and have our own identification compared to the older, more established clubs,” he said.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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