Organization is the underlying contribution for two men being honored in 2017 as Citizens of the Years in recognition of long-term contributions to life in this community.
Both Jim Haley and Roger Millar have used their skills at organizing and coordinating the efforts of others in accomplishing things which make life nicer for everyone else.
Haley was nominated specifically for his work at planning and organizing the Oxford Rotary Club’s Stars & Stripes program, in which flags are planted for subscribers on the five “flag holidays” each year.
Millar was honored for his work as executive director of the Oxford Community Foundation as well as with other local groups, serving as treasurer and leading fundraising and adding a new layer of professionalism to the operation.
A nomination from Barb Clawson said Haley’s efforts with the flag program make Oxford a more beautiful city.
“When the flags are up and I drive through Oxford, I always thank Jim for making Oxford a very special place to live,” Clawson wrote.
A nomination from Calvin Conrad credited Millar with moving the community foundation from a largely volunteer organization to a more formal status as its operation grew.
“He retired on the West Coast, moving to Oxford to make our community and the surrounding area a much better place to live,” Conrad wrote.
The Stars & Stripes program started before current Rotary Club President Pat Sidley arrived in Oxford, but he was quickly made aware of it. Now, as club president, he is part of a patriotic and rapidly growing program which Haley has nurtured.
Haley met with representative of the Centerville club and corresponded with other organizations sponsoring flag programs.
With the program, teams of volunteers set up a flag for each subscriber for each of five holidays each year – Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day. The Stars & Stripes program will be in its fourth year in 2018 in Oxford and it has grown rapidly in popularity from 300 in 2015 to 450 in 2016 and 600 flags this year.
“It became obvious in addition to sticking flags in the ground, they had to locate where they would go and there was lots of paperwork,” Sidley said. “Jim got all the stuff organized for the initial effort.”
A sleeve is inserted into the ground at each location for one of the flags, but to do that, it must be checked to make sure there are no utility lines in the ground in that location. Then, teams of volunteers were organized to deliver the flags, placing the flagpole in the sleeve.
“Jim put all the information together and assigned teams. It got tweaked about every holiday,” Sidley said.
There were other issues to face, like where to store the flags between holidays. Capitol Varsity sports provides space in their warehouse. A spreadsheet had to be developed with information on subscribers, and Sidley said a number of them pay for flags to be placed for others, which also needs to be tracked.
The poles are steel conduit cut to lengths in a machine shop, also requiring organization.
As the program has grown in three years, they have recruited other organizations to help with the delivery of flags. The Rotary Club has gotten help from the Talawanda High School Lacrosse team, the middle school athletic boosters and the board of the United Way of Oxford.
“Right now, the constraint is the ability to put the flags out,” Sidley said, noting the great growth of the program in three years. “Who knows what the market saturation really is?”
Many local streets have rows of the flags lined up on those five holidays, creating a memorable, patriotic view causing many to notice.
“What a great job he has done!” Clawson concluded in her nomination letter.
Millar’s tenure as executive director of the Oxford Community Foundation was marked by a period of growth and a transition to more detailed auditing and financial tracking, moving it to another level or responsibility.
Conrad wrote in his nomination Millar was involved in several local organizations, providing each an expanded touch of professionalism as well as his time.
“Among his many involvements, he was treasurer of the Uptown Farmer’s Market, became executive director of the Oxford Community Foundation, transitioning it from a largely volunteer organization while creating formal government and non-profit status with formal auditing and clear audits. This seems to be his forte – being able to quietly and gracefully move these kinds of organizations from one level to the next,” Conrad wrote. “He trained Jeannie (now Beck) to become executive director – as always his style to ‘empower’ those with whom he works, to encourage them to be all they could be.”
As he did with the foundation, Millar also stepped up the auditing and financial efforts of the Uptown Market and the Three Valley Conservation Trust, both of which he has served as treasurer.
Conrad said Millar played a significant role in completing the purchase of the Fryman property, which is becoming the Mill Race Park for the MeroParks of Butler County.
“Many organizations in Oxford have benefited from his financial largess as he has made significant financial gifts in addition to his constant involvement to improve our community,” the nomination read.
The TVCT efforts also raised the level of financial accounting for the organization, according to Conrad’s nomination letter, while serving for six years at the unpaid treasurer.
“During his service, he moved Three Valley from a simple bookkeeper to a professional accounting firm resulting in perfect audit results,” he wrote.
Later, Conrad elaborated on that noting Millar’s efforts are rooted in his conviction about the need for close accountability for nonprofit organizations.
“Approaching things in a very professional way, he feels there has to be accountability for any organization that is 501(c)3,” Conrad said. “He really cares about this community.”