From the beginning, the proceeds of the St. Charles Alligator Festival were dedicated to Rotary charities, parularly the scholarship program.
In 1980, Sharon Mecum was awarded the first scholarship of $250 per year. Since she would study for four years, that was a $1,000 commitment. Every year since that time it has grown, mainly due to money made at the yearly Alligator Festival. Since Katrina took care of last year’s festival, a Gatorganza was organized to help with the funding and this year an amazing $34,000 commitment was made for scholarships. To date some 160 students were helped with $339,500 in scholarship money.
This year’s scholarship winners are Kyle Anderson, Callie Anderson, Lauren Fogarty and Emily Rangel from Destrehan High School; and Alyse Granier, Courtney Soudelier, Rebecca Ory and Kristen Killen from Hahnville High School. The two Vo-Tech Scholarship winners are Catherine Landry and Sean Malbrough. Rotarian president Jim Hooper presented the awards at a banquet last week Past president Jennifer Luquette chaired the scholarship committee. Rotarians are proud of their motto, “service above self,” and are grateful to the St. Charles Parish community for their generous support.
The beginning of scholarship funding started back in 1979 when charter member Archie Mollere who was also a school board member decided to donate his school board member salary as seed money for a Rotary Scholarship Fund.
Bob Rice, the superintendent of St. Charles Parish served as The West St. Charles Rotary Club’s charter president from 1977 to 1979. George Hull served as Rotary’s second president and then Mollere had a term as president. It was during this time that the state of Louisiana removed the alligator from the endangered species listing.
During a Rotary meeting Vince Matherne wrote that the members were discussing how the club could support the state’s move to use the alligator as a resource. Bob Becker, president of Rathbone Lumber Co., suggested that his company had lots of swamp land with lots of alligators. Mollere thought that an activity with the alligator theme may well be supportive of the state’s new resource. The meeting ended with Mollere and Becker’s ideas melding into the Alligator Festival. “It’s difficult to give sole credit to these two...but that’s the way it happened,” said Matherne.
|Rotary President Jim Hooper is shown at left with this year’s scholarship award winners. They are Emily Rangel, Lauren Fogarty, Callie Anderson, Alyse Granier, Catherine Landry, Courtney Soudelier, Kristen Killen, and Rebecca Ory. Award Chairman Jennifer|