People of Rotary | Bill Norris

Bill Norris - Dedicated Service to Club and Community 

This is a story of one of Rotary 14’s long-time members and a look at how he played a part in a number of ways in serving people in our community. It’s a story of how the people of Rotary work together to do good things. Bill Norris joined Rotary 14 in 1981, which means he’s been involved in our club and community for more than 40 years. When we asked about his involvement over the years he talked about selecting the name “NEOS” for new member orientation, helping establish an award that our Foundation has offered for many years, his role in some significant community projects and even helping our club celebrate the Rotary International centennial and our club’s 100th anniversary. Here’s Bill’s story in his own words:
“My leadership contributions were minor compared to many others who have devoted hundreds of hours to the Rotary organization. Thanks to them Rotary Club 14 continues to serve and grow in Lincoln. The past four years, because of declining health of Jan, COVID, and personal health issues, I have not been able to attend meetings, but have (with accommodations) maintained my membership in the Club.
Of the projects I described to you when we had coffee, my role in those activities was to create and get them started. President Steve Glenn (1991-1992) asked me, as Education Committee Chair, to develop an annual award to recognize Past President Don Miller (1986-1987). In the spring of 1987, the Don W. Miller Math Award was started and has continued ever since. The award is given to all levels of Lincoln Math teachers for outstanding teaching of Math. Dr. Martin Massengale has been the coordinator of this award for years! He deserves recognition for his stewardship.
In 1992-1993 President David Livingston asked me to develop a New Member Orientation Committee to provide an introductory activity for newly introduced members to the Club. Using many synonyms for NEW, the Greek word NEOS was picked to describe the purpose of the Committee. Over the years the Club Board of Directors and the NEOS committee developed the Red Badge and other criteria for new members to learn about the Club.
In 2001-2002 President Arlen Beam assigned me the task of beginning the planning process for Club 14’s Centennial Project for the year 2010.  Surveys were sent to community leaders, organizations and Club 14 members asking for suggestions for our Centennial Project. Letters were also sent to the first 13 Rotary Clubs asking what their plans were for celebrating their 100th anniversary.
In the interim, President Phil Heckman (2002-2003) assigned Jim Mastera and me, in partnership with Lincoln East Rotary Club, to find a project to honor Rotary International’s 100 Birthday.  We picked the Sunken Gardens Pavilion or Gazebo, which became and still is an icon for promoting the City of Lincoln. Clark Enersen Partners did the creative design work on the Gazebo. TMCO Metals did the lazer creation of the Gazebo roof.       
2007-2008, The Centennial Committee solicited additional project ideas for our 100th Anniversary Project. The first project picked was the Tower Project on the corner of 13th & P Street, which had been submitted by the Downtown Lincoln Association. Our decision was that it had to be started within our time frame of our Centennial of 2010. Eventually they could not meet this timeframe. Out of 30+ projects offered for our consideration, the Committee selected the Elliot Park and Playground Project. Jo Ann Kissel and Clark Enersen provided a decision matrix that which could be used in the decision in selecting the project. Rotary 14 had designated $100,000 for the project and we were able to leverage that contribution by 3 times. The project became a $400,000 project. A
Coordinating Committee was developed to facilitate the project with JoAnne Kissel, Chairing, as she had the experience of being a liaison  between Clark Enersen Partners, and Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department. The Coordinating Committee included: JoAnne Kissel, (Chair) De Ann Currin, Principle of Elliott Elementary School, Scott Weiskamp, Director of Facilities Lincoln Public Schools, J.J Yost, Parks & Recreation Planning/Facilities Manager, Barb Bettin, President YMCA, Jim Mastera & I represented Rotary Club 14. 
Others included in the development of the project, Nancy Wehrbein, grant writer to achieve a grant from Cooper Foundation, Art Thompson, Cooper Foundation, Roger Larson, Jim Mastera and I helped with fund Raising.”
Bill Norris, one of the people of Rotary 14 who, in his quiet way, had a hand in a number of significant developments for our club over the years. Even though he hasn’t been able to attend a meeting in person since 2018, he’s remained a member and advocate for our club. It’s a testimony to the way the people of Rotary work together to serve our community. Thank you, Bill.