Guest Speakers: Lieutenant Mercado & Sargent Morris | Corona, CA

Speakers for  Wed. May 1st. were none other than Corona’s finest, Lieutenant Mercado and Sargent Morris from Corona Police Department.  These two gentleman are part of  the department’s  UAS team.  This stands for unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones.  This enhancement for the department started this past Feb. 2019.  Sargent Morris is a drone pilot.   The UAS pilot’s were chosen from patrol and are highly trained in UAS technology.  It requires 56 hours of highly specialized pilot training.  The team is called in to assist with special ops missions, and emergencies.  They also assist in searching for suspects, missing persons and help with the mapping of accident scenes.  Drones are also used in search and rescue missions.  They will be partnering with the Corona Fire Department in the future.  It is more cost effective to use drones rather than a helicopter. The drones use battery packs for fuel.  The length of the battery packs vary, some are 10 min only while others can operate for 38 min.  These packs, while being less expensive than fuel, can add up. The drones can be flown at night, but they require a light kit per FAA rules. They can also be flown in inclement weather.  Drones help in real time intelligence gathering which helps the officers on the ground with their planning.  This was a very exciting talk and the officers brought in a number of different drones that they use in the UAS team.  At the end of the talk Sargent Morris took one of the drones outside and flew it a bit for us and showed us thermal imaging of our little group. Thank you both, this was a very informative talk.  Good to know our CPD is advancing with new and exciting technologies to keep our community safe.

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Guest Speaker: Sue Nichols | Corona, CA

Wed. April 24th our speaker was Sue Nichols from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Eastvale. This is the school where we donate all our signed books each week. Sue is the school’s librarian.

She truly appreciates all of our book donations because she says she has zero budget to purchase new books. Rosa Parks Elementary School is the largest school in the CNUSD. The library contains 52% books that are fiction and 48% that are nonfiction. It is a very large library. Sue has great support from her family. Her late brother built her a castle in a corner of the library for story time and the students can actually sit up in the turrets. Sue also keeps live creatures in her library. She currently has tiger salamanders and crawdads. She shares a lot of her interesting personal collections in the library. Her school is very culturally diverse, so Sue likes to do different themes and talks a lot about the multiple cultures. We could tell that Sue loves her job because of the enthusiasm she shared with us in speaking about her library. We thought her library was extremely cool. It also seems like a mini hands-on museum as well. What lucky children who attend that school and get to enjoy Sue and that very awesome library! Thank you Sue, so happy our donated books are being loved and used at your school.

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Guest Speaker: Jane Moore | Corona, CA

This past Wed on April 17th our speaker was Jane Moore from Pencils and Dreams. Pencils and Dreams is a fundraising partner with vetted organizations and schools that improve educational options for children in Tanzania. Jane visited Tanzania with her family in 2005. She went to see the country and the wildlife in person, not just on a documentary, but she fell in love with the people. Jane was an educator for 40 years, and she was overwhelmed by the children’s desire to learn. When she returned home from her trip, she had a dream about building schools for the children they had met. And over the past 9 years that is exactly what this organization has been doing. And it is all done through donations. Presently they are partnering with two incredible schools, these schools are having a tremendous impact on the students. These students will be the future leaders of Tanzania. Pencils and Dreams has a goal of giving each school $10,000 every year. And Jane knows they will reach it thanks to the generosity of all the donors. Thank you Jane for your generous heart, and vision we enjoyed your talk today.

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Guest Speaker: Cyndi Monroe | Corona, CA

Our Rotary speaker for Wed. April 3rd. was Cyndi Monroe. Cyndi is the founder and director of CATS, Christian Arts Theatre, group. She started the theatre 20 years ago. She says she had no clue on how to start a new business, but she was able to recruit people to help her start the theatre company. It’s a nonprofit organization for children. They offer all sorts of classes besides theatre arts. The theatre is a magnet for all types of kids. Besides acting classes, they teach make-up, set design and how to make costumes. Not all the kids that join necessarily wish to perform. And those that do, need to audition for the roles. Cyndi says valuable life lessons are being learned. Not everyone that auditions gets a part. The kids learn that we don’t always get what we want. Parents of the students build the sets for the plays. There are a lot of team building activities. In the past 20 years they have had 20,000 kids go through their program. Less than 1% are still performing, but most grow up to be amazing human beings. Thank you Cyndi for coming and speaking to our club about your wonderful theatre company.

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Guest Speakers: Michele Nissen and Mark Allert | Corona, CA

Former Acting Corona City Manager Michele Nissen and fellow Rotarian Mark Allert were our guest speakers today.  They came to speak about the workshops the city has been conducting with Mayor Jason Scott, councilmembers Yolanda Carillo and Jim Steiner about our city’s homelessness problem.  Mark pointed out that there is a temptation to turn to despair amongst the homeless. We have a team in Corona made up of two police officers and it’s called the HOPE team.  They work 4 days a week for 10 hour shifts.  They interact with our homeless population to try to steer them in the direction they need to go to receive services.  Homelessness is a problem that has been around for centuries.  The city of Corona has contracted out to an outreach service called City Net.  They are a nonprofit and they are getting a count of how many homeless residents live in our city.  A lot of Corona’s homeless population grew up in the city and still have family members that reside here.  About 75% of the homeless in Corona have drug and alcohol addictions.  About 20% have mental illness. There are a lot of organizations in Corona that want to help the homeless, but they lack a coordinated effort.  The homeless need a wraparound type of service.  Thank you Michele and Mark for this very informative talk today. We as Rotarians have a lot of compassion for our fellow man and would love to see this terrible issue resolved.

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Guest speaker: Kimberly Davidson | Corona, CA

Last week’s speaker was Kimberly Davidson the City of Corona’s Economic Development Director.   Kimberly gave a very lively presentation.  We have a population of over 168,000 residents, and a very low unemployment rate.  While that’s generally a good thing, it’s tough for our local manufacturers to find employees. We have about 400 manufacturers in the city. It is a very tight labor market not only nationally but locally as well.  Kimberly also talked about the changing face of retail.  It’s become a national trend that most stores are either closing or going to on line sales.  But while this is occurring, this also allows for more mom and pop stores to develop.  Our Corona Mall will be getting a facelift soon.  The new destination will be called The Union.  It will be focused on restaurants and entertainment.  Bedford Canyon is being developed into new homes along with a commercial property.  The City of Corona also works closely with Norco College. The students learn the skills needed to compete with the available jobs in the area.  Kimberly says there is a plan called Corona 2020 and that is to create 7,000 new jobs within the city limits by 2020.  This would help to greatly  reduce commuter traffic.  Kimberly has developed weekly and monthly meetings and workshops based on various topics for employers as well as employees.  Thank you Kimberly for an enthusiastic talk. We were all interested in learning about the economic development of our city.

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Guest Speakers: Jo Dee Slyter and Thoibi Rublaitus | Corona, CA

Our speakers today  March 14th, were Jo Dee Slyter and Thoibi Rublaitus from Corona-Norco Adult Education School. Jo Dee is the principal of Adult Ed. and Thoibi is the vice principal. Both speakers  were very passionate about their jobs. Adults need educational classes but also technical classes.  The adult school mission is to provide adult learners educational opportunities and services, promote transitional readiness, and prepare each individual to become a productive member of the community. They offer English as a second language course. They also offer certification courses. These classes are short term and can be completed in 8 weeks. This is a very doable program. All students that complete the program go either directly into the workforce or they go onto higher education. Thank you both for this informative talk.

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Guest Speakers: Diane McDonald, Ruth Olson and Jill Wakefield | Corona, CA

Our speakers for March 6th, were Diane McDonald, Ruth Olson and Jill Wakefield. These women along with fellow Rotarian, Elaine Harris, provide support groups at local Corona schools for adolescent grief and loss. Jill Wakefield spoke about how grieving causes some people to get depressed. And in turn can lead to drinking and drugs to deal with their depression. She helps students to process grief through art. She has her students draw a happy memory, or an object to remember their lost loved one in a happy way. She says boys tend to get angry, and girls turn inward. These sessions help them to cope with their grief. At the end of their therapy sessions, they have a party and everyone is asked to bring their loved ones favorite foods.

Ruth Olson is a counselor and  works with Elaine Harris at Santiago High School. She says the kids in the therapy sessions feel connected to each other because they are all experiencing grief. They learn from one another.   They try to get the students to focus on the positive. A grieving student tends to miss a lot of school. The number one reason is due to anxiety. Diane McDonald works at Corona Regional Medical Center hospice program. A typical session group are 8-10 students for 8 weeks of therapy. She asks the students at the end of the sessions if they are helped with the counseling. A lot of the kids only come to school on counseling days because they know they will be seeing their friends in therapy. They learn that their depression is part of the process. They know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.   Diane does a lot of grant writing to get funding for the program. Many thanks to all these women for the invaluable service they provide to our youth who are grieving.

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Guest Speaker: Kevin Fleming | Corona, CA

Our speaker for Feb. 27th was Dr. Kevin Fleming. His topic was Redefining the Goal: The Changing Climate of Education, Career Readiness, and Economic Development. Dr. Fleming is the Vice President of Norco College. Norco College has been in existence for 28 years. It is no longer a satellite of Riverside Community College. They service about 15,000 students a year. There seems to be a disconnect between formal education and being employable. At Norco College, they believe that work experience, combined with industry credentials, give the students a competitive edge. There are 15 career clusters in the state of California. Norco College offers courses for 10 of these clusters. Norco College also partners with Corona-Norco Unified School District, by providing college credits for students enrolled in their courses while attending the local high schools. There is also a huge savings in first attending Norco College, then transferring to a either a Cal State, UC, or a private institution. Norco College plans on offering a 4 year degree in the near future. Thank you to Dr. Fleming for a very enthusiastic talk.

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Fire & Ice Chili Cook-Off & Craft Beer Festival 2019 | Corona, CA

On Feb. 23rd  Circle City Rotary had our 5th Annual Fire and Ice Fundraiser. It was held once again at Dos Lagos. The event was a HUGE success!!! Thanks to all the committee members who planned the event, fellow Rotary members who participated in the event, along with our wonderful volunteers from various non-profits and local high schools. This event wouldn’t be a success without our fabulous sponsors and all the lovely people who came to sample chili and vote for People’s Choice, and taste the beers donated by awesome micro brewers. A very heartfelt THANK YOU to ALL!! The weather was perfect, snow on the mountains in front of us and behind us! Great music by The K-Tel All-Stars! They were a huge hit once again. Lots of fun for all ages!! Be sure to come and join us next year on Sat. Feb. 29th 2020. Leap Year!

To find out more about our annual Fire & Ice Chili Cook-Off & Craft Beer Festival, please visit our website at