Rotary ‘likes’ Facebook for annual Radio Auction

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Just in time for its annual Radio Auction, the Punxsutawney Rotary Club has joined the Facebook revolution.

“Facebook has been something that’s been kicked around in the club, on how to expand our presence in the community,” said Tom Chelgren, auction chairman, adding that the site is very proactive, in that if someone posts something, everyone who “likes” the page is immediately notified.

“Rotary International has also been advocating having more of a presence on the Internet,” he said.

Facebook currently has 500 million active users. Users can go to Facebook, search for “Punxsutawney Rotary,” and click “Like” to keep up with auction information or upcoming events from the club.

This year’s auction will be broadcast live Saturday on WPXZ-FM from BFG Electroplating. See the box on Page 8 for more information.

The auction was founded more than 40 years ago by the late Rotarian Charlie Erhard, general manager and owner of the former WPME, where he donated space at the studio’s former North Gilpin Street location to hold a live auction, using chalkboards and other systems to maintain calls and bids.

A former president of the Groundhog Club, Erhard is also credited with bringing Punxsutawney Phil to the radio airwaves so that rival groundhogs would not steal his thunder.

More than 400 items this year include gift certificates, U.S. Savings bonds, handmade gifts and crafts, services, baskets and more. The biggest item is a $3,000 John Deere X300 tractor.

Residents may check out the items on Rotary’s Facebook page, by logging on to or checking out the four-page supplement in today’s Spirit.

Chelgren said preparations for the annual event begin in November, when Rotarians compile a mailing list of possible donors. Members then actively seek donations in mid-January before collecting items from local businesses. Items are then inventoried in March and prepared for the auction.

Rotarians will have help from WPXZ’s Josh Widdowson on-site and Lou Jordan in the studio, but they will carry most of the on-air speaking about items and the progress of the auction, something that attracts some members but makes others a bit hesitant.

“It’s actually much like just talking on the phone, when the mic isn’t there, just as if you’re discussing it between friends,” Chelgren said. “Interestingly enough, a first-year member comes in, and we always ask who wants to do what job: Be on the radio? Some hesitate, some will be shy, and some people are just not too worried.

“A couple people who have done it their first year, they have been nervous, but all it takes is a few moments behind the mic, and they always do very well at it,” he said.

Also helping coordinate the auction has been Dave Pavlic, interim manager at WPXZ, Chelgren said.

The annual Punxsutawney Rotary Club Radio Auction will be held from 9:05 a.m. to noon, then from 12:25 to 5:40 p.m. Saturday, live from BFG Electroplating via WPXZ-FM.

An auction preview will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at BFG Electroplating, and there will be a silent auction for about 15 items. Bidders seeking these items must bid in person from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday or until 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

However, the club will accept e-mail bids by looking at the inventory at and sending an e-mail bid until 5 p.m. Friday.
Residents may check out the items on Rotary’s Facebook page, by logging on to or checking out the four-page supplement in today’s Spirit.

Rotary accepts donations toward Japanese quake relief efforts

As part of its annual Radio Auction Saturday at BFG Electroplating, members of the Punxsutawney Rotary Club will accept cash or check donations toward the Rotary Japan and Pacific Islands Disaster Fund, which will support long-term recovery projects in areas affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan March 11.

The Rotary Foundation has established the effort among clubs around the United States and the world.

One need not be a Rotarian to donate.