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Lions Club Celebrates 65 Years Of Service

By Staff | Mar 23, 2011

Pictured is Larry Johnson, center, keynote speaker for the New Martinsville Lions Club’s 65th Anniversary dinner March 18 at the Mollohan Center, Wetzel County 4H campgrounds. Johnson, a former director of Lions International and a former past district governor, is a 37-year member of the Parkersburg Lions Club. Also in the photo, from left, are New Martinsville club secretary Quila Utt; Larry Yoho, a past president of the New Martinsville Lions Club; Nelson Hachem; Johnson; Johnson’s wife, Rachel, also a Lion member; New Martinsville Lions Club President Don Neville; and Sandra Hachem. Sandra Hachem is a past district governor. Her husband, Nelson, is a current director of the New Martinsville club. (Photo by Bill Abraham)

The New Martinsville Lions Club observed its 65th anniversary March 18 at the Mollohan Center, with Lion Larry Johnson of Parkersburg as keynote speaker.

Johnson has been a member of the board of directors for Lions International and a 37-year member of the Parkersburg club. He and his wife, Rachel, also club member, brought greetings from LI President Sid L. Scruggs III.

Johnson commended and thanked the local club “for being a beacon of hope here in New Martinsville and Wetzel County, showing the way for 65 years.” He also outlined the club’s four major campaigns during its history: Engaging Our Youth, Sharing the Vision, Relieving the Hunger, and Protecting Our Planet.

The New Martinsville club was established in 1946 with 39 members and became active in assisting people in the community, expanding in reach over the years to include service throughout the state and around the world with ties to Lions Clubs International.

In 1988, a second club was formed–the New Martinsville Morning Lions Club–with 25 members, who worked with members of the other Lions Club on several big projects and fund raisers. The clubs united their efforts to canvass every household in the area with the “Bulbs and Brooms” sale and a trash bag sale. In addition, the clubs collected adult and children’s eyeglass cases.

Both clubs sponsored the Mobile Eye Screening Unit, collected used eyeglasses, and helped with Heritage Days, as well has sponsored golf tournaments and food concessions at local fairs. In addition, the Lions Clubs have purchased two seats in the historic Lincoln Theater in honor of two Lions Club members, James F. Fitzsimmons and Edward Baker.

After 18 years of joint service, the two clubs combined in 2006, becoming part of the New Martinsville Lions Club that continues to serve the community.

“Bulbs and Brooms” has morphed into other fund raisers, such as the annual Arts in the Park every July 4, the Chili Cook Off in October, and food concessions during Christy’s Auctions. The club belongs to ArtsLink and the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce, continues to collect old eyeglasses, and assists with Magnolia High School after-prom events.

The club also has made donations of playground equipment to the city park, sponsored eye testing and treatment at Wetzel County Hospital, scholarships to West Virginia Northern Community College, and makes up “Blizzard Boxes” for AARP several times each year.

Among its very long list of accomplishments in community service, the Lions Club also has contributed several thousand dollars to support a new ball field in New Martinsville, the Wetzel County EMS, and has even helped another Lions Club whose building burned.

Among members’ more visible efforts has been cleaning two miles along state Route 2 as part of the “Adopt a Highway” program.

The New Martinsville Lions Club also has rendered three past district governors over the years: Larry Yoho, Sandra Hachem, and the late Curtis Bohrer.

It also boasts multiple Leonard Jarrett Award Recipients (sight foundation) and Melvin Jones Award recipients (Lions International).

Current club officers are: Don Neville, president; Kenneth Sisler, first vice president; Deloris Sisler, second vice president; Quila Utt, secretary; and Don Riggenbach, treasurer. Other club leaders include Bill Barth, Lion Tamer; Carolyn Jackson, Tail Twister; Dave Hunt, membership chairman; and directors Nelson Hachem, Anke Hunt, Terrell Lee Jackson, and Kenneth Davis.