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History of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg

The Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg was formed on February 1, 1997 through the merger of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County (K#096496) and the Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg (K#02811). Under the terms of the agreement all funds of the clubs were merged and all projects of both clubs were continued for the remainder of the year. It was agreed that the Circle K Club of Virginia Tech, which had been sponsored by Blacksburg, would continue to be sponsored by the new club. It was decided that the club would meet at noon at Ryan's Steakhouse House on Thursday's. The Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg elected to retain the charter of the Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg since it dated back over fifty years. After approval by both clubs, John C. Lipsey, President of the Montgomery County Kiwanis, and Don W. Linkous, President of the Blacksburg Kiwanis, signed the merger agreement.

Election of new officers and directors of the Montgomery County-Blacksburg Kiwanis Club was completed by May 15, 1997. Officers were Sue Bentley, President, Don Linkous, President-Elect, Marty Muscatello, Vice President, Tom Murphy, Treasurer, and Carl Burke, Secretary. Initial elected directors were Herb Alcorn, Beany Butt, Walt Davis, Jim Lyons, Jim Palmer, and Davis Walker.

The history of Kiwanis in this community extends back for over fifty years through the two clubs-Montgomery County Kiwanis Club and Blacksburg Kiwanis Club. To understand the background of our club, the history of the two clubs that combined to form this club needs to be understood.

Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County

In January, 1979, a Steering Committee consisting of Harland Little, Mile Olsen, John Cathey, Bob Lecky and Ben Crawford (Chairman), was formed to solicit potential members and to work with the Capital District to form a new Kiwanis Club in Montgomery County. The Steering Committee decided that the club would be a day club, meeting on Thursdays from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm. They also decided that the club would be open to any qualified individual and that the club would strive to maintain a healthy mix of university and area citizens.

Co-sponsors of the new club were the Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg (President, Blackie Blevins) and the Kiwanis Club of Princeton (President, Dean Kenny). With 26 charter members, the charter meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County was held on April 21, 1979 at the Holiday Inn in Blacksburg. Charter officers, who served until October elections, were Bob Lecky, President and Harland Little, Secretary. The first elected officers were Ben Crawford, President, Mike Southern, 1st Vice President, John Cathey, 2nd Vice President, Dick Patton, Treasurer, and Glenn Valentine, Secretary. The first elected directors were Richard Duffner, Jim Dymock, Dennis Lamm, Dave Nunley, Mike Olsen, Dick Phillips and Merv Timberlake.

Weekly luncheon meetings in the Wallace Hall Dining room on the Virginia Tech campus begun in the fall of 1979. In addition to conducting club business, priority was placed on securing informative speakers from the community and the university. The location of the weekly meetings later changed to Hillcrest Dining Room where it remained until 1993 when it was moved off campus. The club met at the Western Sizzler Steak House in Blacksburg for a couple of years before moving to Ryan's Steakhouse, New River Valley Mall, Christiansburg where meetings are currently held.

The Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County quickly became involved in a number of community projects. One of its most timely and successful projects begun soon after the club was organized, was its "Glass Recycling Program". At a time of great public concern about litter, the club stepped forward and initiated a countywide recycling program. The club opened a recycling center for glass that operated five days a week. Grants were obtained from government and private sources to help acquire needed facilities and to conducts education programs to encourage recycling. Several recognition and expressions of thanks were received from governments and private groups for the club's leadership in starting this program. A 1981 Certificate of Appreciation from the Commonwealth of Virginia cited the club for "distinguished leadership in glass recycling for Montgomery County and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg". The club operated the recycling center until around 1984 when the responsibility for operating the recycling program was transferred to local governments. The club became involved in several other community projects such as the raising of $10,000 to establish a children's reading room for the Blacksburg Branch of the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library.

The Gunnar Teilmann Layperson of the Year Award was begun in 1984 to recognize individuals who made outstanding contributions in time and service to their churches. This recognition continues to be awarded annually.

A major fundraising project, which began in 1984, was a Bar-B-Q sale conducted at the Brush Mountain Craft Fair ever spring. The sale of Bar-B-Q, with other foods being added in later years, was expanded to at times include the fall YMCA Craft Fair and other events. Bar-B-Q/food sales were continued until the late 1990's when the club began sponsoring a carnival and circus in cooperation with the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg as fundraisers.

Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg

The Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg held its organizational meeting on October 1, 1946. The 26 member club was chartered on October 23, 1946 with George L. Guilette being elected President and Everett Lott elected Secretary. The club spent most of the fall of 1946 educating themselves about the objectives of Kiwanis, but they did distribute Christmas baskets to 30 needy families. C. R. Woolwine was elected President and C. H. Duncan Secretary in 1947 as the membership increased to 29.

During its first few years the Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg became involved in a number of fundraising projects to support its community programs. One of the earliest was the 1947 project sponsoring an amateur show, and event netting over $200.00 for underprivileged children. The club set up 60 gum machines around town in 1948 to raise funds to support its community programs. The club began sponsorship of a donkey baseball game in 1949 and cleared more that $200.00 that was donated to support high school sports. In 1950, A Kiwanis auction was held on National Kids' Day that netted over $200.00 to support youth work, continue work with the Key Club, and help support the annual Christmas party. Kiwanis sponsored two concerts to raise funds for the Community Recreation Center in 1953. That Christmas, 75 bushels of food were collected in cooperation with Blacksburg Theaters, Inc, for distribution to needy families. Many of these early fundraising projects were continued annually. As time went by, some of these projects were discontinued and new fundraising projects were introduced.

One of the club's first service projects was to work with Blacksburg High School to organize a Key Club in 1948. The Key Club was assisted in setting up a Safety Patrol later that year. During that year, the club also decided to sponsor three Brownie troops and to send a boy to Boy's State. Activities sponsored for youth included a Tri-County Golf Tournament for boys under seventeen, a Halloween Party for youth, and a movie for children. The agricultural committee initiated a plant-growing project so local gardeners could get the recommended varieties of plants. In the 1950's, Kiwanis made several donations to help purchase lighting for the high school athletic field. The club worked in cooperation with other civic organizations on several community projects and made many smaller gifts to organizations during these early  years.

An organizational meeting for a Circle K Club of VPI was sponsored by the Blacksburg Kiwanis Club in 1954. When the Circle K Club of VPI was organized in 1955, the Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg sponsored the Charter Night program at a cost of $125.00. Also, arrangements were made for the Kiwanis magazine to be placed in the VPI library that year. The Kiwanis Club of Blacksburg has maintained a close relationship with Circle K since it was organized. Kiwanis representatives have attended most Circle K meetings and, in turn, Circle K representatives have attended most Kiwanis meetings. In addition, the two clubs have been involved in many joint projects and events. That relationship continues with the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg.