The "Manhattan Optimist Club Bulletin": Vol. 2024 #4: 10-25-23

Posted October 27, 2023

                                      VOLUME 2024          October 25, 2023         NUMBER 4

President Bill Wisdom welcomed the membership and guests, followed by a reflection and the Flag Salute.

David Starks, Sr. District Executive, Coronado Area Boy Scouts of America
Program: Mike Fincham introduced Manhattan Optimist member David Starks, our speaker today.  David was born in Hutchinson and raised in Kingman, Kansas.  He graduated from Kansas State University in 1993 with a degree in Agricultural Resources Management, then took a job with Professional Tree Care in Enid, Oklahoma in 1994 and stayed there for 10 years.  David started his own company in 2005, called Starks Tree Care.

In January 2019, he began working for the Cimarron Council of the Boy Scouts of America.  During this time, he served the council as District Chairman, Den Leader, Cub Master for Pack 1 (for 5 years), and Scout Master for Troop 27 (for 7 years). During this time, David mentored 12 young men who earned the rank of Eagle Scout, including his son Logan.  In December of 2021 David accepted a position as Senior District Executive with the Coronado Area Council and moved back to Manhattan.  His topic today is “Boy Scouts of America, an Overview.”

David thanked the Optimist for having him speak.  He noted there have been many famous people who were Eagle Scouts, including President Gerald Ford, and many locally known individuals were also Eagle Scouts.  General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a British Army Officer, found boys were using his military handbook for a camping guide and rewrote it for boys to use and founded the world-wide Scout Movement, and with his sister Agnes, cofounded the world-wide Girl Guide/Girl Scout Movement.  Chicago publisher William Boyce was in England and lost the fog when a Boy Scout came to his aid. After guiding Boyce to his destination, the boy refused a tip, explaining that as a Boy Scout he would not accept payment for doing a good deed.  This anonymous gesture inspired Boyce to organize a national U.S. scouting organization.  Incorporated on February 8, 1910, the Boy Scouts of America soon had chapters throughout the country.  In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah, Georgia.

The Coronado Area Council is comprised of 272 separate Councils that operate under the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).  It services 32 counties from its main office in Salina, with satellite offices in Manhattan and Hays.  Over 600 registered adult volunteer leaders serve 1,500 youth annually and 60 community organizations charter 82 scouting units.  The Council receives approximately $1,000,000 in income from multiple sources, including investment in character leadership, project sales, special, events, popcorn sales, scout related store sales, camping activities, investment income from endowments, and foundations and trusts.

Scouting units in Manhattan include Cub Scout Packs 75, 76, 277, and 284.  Boy Scout Troops include 74, 75, 223, and 284.  Girl BSA troops are 275 and 284.  Currently there are no Exploring scout programs for older youth. 

The Manhattan Optimist chartered Pack 277 and Troop 223 in January of 2023.  Cub Scout Pack 277 recruits from Northview and Oliver Brown Elementary Schools and currently has a membership of 25 youth.  Scouts BSA Boy Troop 223 is small, but hoping to expand in early 2024.  Both units are always looking for leaders and new scouts.  Cub Scouting is Kindergarten through 5th grade, BSA boy’s and girl’s troops aged 11 to 18.  Exploring units are aged 14-21.

Since 1910, Scouting has developed: character, moral fiber, participatory citizenship, integrity, ethical decision-making, service to others, community service, mentoring, and volunteerism to millions of young men and women.  Scouts with five years or more experience are likely to assume leadership roles, make honest decisions, protect the environment, graduate from high school, graduate from college, and earn incomes of $50,000 or more.  Scouts enjoy many activities, such as high adventure, hiking, canoeing, and leadership opportunities on their way to learning the life skills scouting provides.

For more information on scouting and the Coronado Area Council:

Thad Hall presented today’s Member Spotlight, T. J. Vilkanskas.
Member Spotlight: Thad Hall presented today’s Member Spotlight, T. J. Vilkanskas.  T. J. is one of those people who grew up in Manhattan and pretty much stayed here.  T. J. said he left Manhattan twice.  First, he took a golf scholarship at Butler County Community College, but a guy named Michael Bishop showed up to play football at K-State, so he transferred back to cheer on the Cats.  Second, after graduating from K-State and earning a degree in business administration with an emphasis on finance.   Commerce Bank offered him a position in Kansas City, so he went there.  Two years later they offered to transfer him back to Manhattan and he jumped at the opportunity.

From banking, he transitioned to financial planning and then eventually into real estate development.  He founded his current company, back 9 Development, in 2012.  Back 9 is currently the lead developer for the proposed Midtown Aggieville project.  His wife, Lori, is the broker of the family realty business.  They have four children, Kaitlyn, 10; Davis, 9; Vivian, 6; and Lillian, 4.

T.J. enjoys spending time with his family and coaching his children in various sports.  His family are avid K-State fans and attend most games.  T.J. said his family bought Christmas trees from Optimists as a kid.  He also watched Jim Franke coach Optimist teams for a few years and observed the time Jim put into the facilities.  Now that T. J. has girls who are getting into softball, he has gotten involved in coaching two Optimist teams, and he wants to give back to the community.

Bill Wisdom inducted T. J. into the Optimist Club
Bill Wisdom inducted T. J. into the Optimist Club.

Guests:  Bill Wisdom and Mike Fincham introduced Oscar Montenegro.

Club Stuff/Announcements:

Christmas Tree Update: Jim Franke outlined the Tree Lot preparation work sessions and the Tree Lot sales.  Signup sheets were on the tables.  Please email Jim Franke at with your availability and questions.

Tree Lot Prep Days  Unloading Trees  Unpack Trees & Setup Lot  Special Schedule  Regular Schedule

Bill Wisdom thanked all who volunteered to make the Chili Crawl a success.

Thad Hall provided a Hoop Holler ‘N Shoot update. They are halfway through the grade school shoots and will be completing them next Friday.  Signup sheets were on the tables for the semifinals and finals and we need a number of volunteers for those. 

Tom Claman reminded everyone that the Bewitching in Westloop Oct 31, 3:30-6:00.  Help is needed to hand out candy.  Contact him to volunteer. 

Bill Wisdom shared there were business cards on the table and each member should take a couple to give one to anyone who they may meet who might be interested in joining Optimist.  

Membership dues are due starting October 1, 2023.  The dues for Regular members is $135.00 and the dues for Life members is $105.00.

Give them to Clyde at the Wednesday meetings or mail to:

    Manhattan Optimist Club

    PO Box 623

    Manhattan, KS 66505-0623

Adjourned with the Optimist Creed

Next Weeks’s Meeting:

November 1st 7:00 AM Meeting: Program - Youth of the Month Presentations, Frank Bergman & Marlatt Elementary Schools. Sharon Fincham

November Meeting Schedule:

November 8th Noon Meeting: Program - Student of the Month Presentation & Mike Dodson, “Veterans Day Recognition.” Jerry Banaka

November 15th 7:00 AM Meeting: Program - Jim Franke, “What’s Happening with the Christmas Tree Lot.” Bill Wisdom

November 22 10:00 AM at Optimist Park:  Jim Franke/Bruce Bidwell, “Working the Christmas Tree Lot” – Lunch Catered! Bill Wisdom

November 29 7:00 AM Meeting: Bill Wisdom, “Business Meeting.”