The Vermillion Rotary Club met for its first weekly meeting of 2006 on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at the Neuharth Center on the USD campus. President Mercy Hobbs presided and the invocation was provided by Rev. Ed Nesselhuf. Two seniors from Vermillion High School were welcomed as guests and each spoke briefly about themselves and their plans for the future. They were Amy Mart and Patricia Merrigan. Other guests included Angela Ericson, the assistant dean at the USD School of Law; and Laura Jenski, vice president for research at USD.
Barry Vickrey, the dean at the USD School of Law, introduced Chad Ericson at the program speaker for the meeting. Chad is the president of Legacy Financial, LLC in Akron, IA. Legacy Financial is a full service investment firm servicing individuals and businesses. In addition to Chad's business he is vice president of both the Akron Area Chamber of Commerce and the Akron Development Corporation. In November of 2005 he was elected office of city councilman for the city of Akron.
Mr. Ericson spoke on two topics: the economic development of Akron and the investment environment in 2006.
Akron, a town of about 1,500 people, has seen a great deal of success in the past year in terms of economic development. Akron has seen the start of four new businesses which is significant in a town its size. Mercy Medical Clinic has recently opened a larger medical facility and has a new doctor on staff which now has a total of three doctors and a physicians assistant. The cost of the clinic project was $85,000. Akron has also spent about $500,000 on a new sewer and landscaping project with more to come. This has already been paid for by the community.
In the last three yearsAkron has seen the opening of a new child care center as well as a new fire station and a new pumper fire truck. Akron fire district is the largest in Iowa. They also have a Senior Center where one meal a day is served and a Senior Care Center. Akron also has a golf course, a baseball field and a swimming pool for its citizens.
Mr. Ericson also spoke about the investment environment for the coming year. He has a degree in economics from St. John's University in Minnesota and enjoys talking about economics. In 2006 he feels that the economic headwinds such as oil prices and uncertainty in the Middle East will fade away. Prime interest rates have been increased 13 times in a row by the Federal Reserve and now stand at 4.25 percent. We will probably see another 1/2 percent this year.
However, the Federal Reserve has hinted that it is about ready to stop raising interest rates which has already boosted the market this year. The Fed is not worried about inflation because it doesn't think oil prices will stay where they are. Natural gas prices have fallen by 33 cents this month. We could jump in gas prices because of the blend change-over for summer, but they won't stay that way.
Speculation has driven up the price of oil but hoarding will soon come to an end which would drop demand. He also feels housing prices will moderate in 2006. The financial services industry will do well because interest rates will stabilize. He also feels that health care should do well because of the baby boom bubble.
With regard to fixed income he is cautious during the first quarter but feels that bonds will see more stability as interest rates stabilize. He also predicts that stocks in 2006 will see a 7 to 9 percent return overall.
Juno chapter meets Jan. 9
Worthy Matron Fran Moore and Worthy Patron George Kneebone presided over the regular Jan. 9 meeting of Juno Chapter. The following officers were installed: Chaplain-David Hussey; Marshall-Dona Dee Peterson; Organist-Agnes Sealey; Ruth-Gloma Kneebone and Martha-Mercy Hobbs.
The regular business meeting was conducted. South Dakota Worthy Grand Matron Ellen Helming granted the following grand representatives: Susan Lyman, grand representative of Arizona in South Dakota and George Kneebone of Bolivia in South Dakota for two years.
Evening refreshments were served by Dona Dee Peterson and Jean Ann Prosser.
An abbreviated past matrons meeting elected Susan Lyman, president; Betty Larson, vice president; and Jean Ann Prosser, secretary-treasurer.
Annual official visit meeting is planned for March 11.
Juno's next regular meeting is Feb. 13. All Eastern Stars welcomed.