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Smith honored by Rotary
Rotary Charles Smith Honoring 1.jpg
Pictured, from left, are County Executive Jimmy Haley, Charles Smith, guest speaker Heather Brown, and Rotary president David Mason Simpson after honoring Smith with a proclamation to celebrate his achievements. - photo by Bethany Porter

Longtime Rotary Club member Charles L. Smith was honored with a proclamation at the Rotary Club of McMinnville meeting Thursday for his career achievements as one of the pioneers in the concrete and masonry industry. 

Smith served as a soldier in combat during World War II, was the principal founder of McMinnville Concrete Products Company, and is the oldest member of the Rotary Club, being a member for 50 years. 

He was honored after guest speaker Heather Brown, PhD, concluded her presentation on concrete. Director of club administration Bill Zechman began by saying a few words about Smith.

“Something else that is amazing in our community is the gentlemen over to my right who can truly be said to be one of the pioneers in the concrete and masonry industry in McMinnville, Warren County, and in many surrounding counties,” said Zechman.

County Executive Jimmy Haley was there to present Smith with the proclamation honoring his life and his contributions. Smith was appreciative of this award.

“I’d just like to say I am very pleased to have this honor. I never expected anything like this, it’s all news to me,” said Smith.

Before Smith was honored, guest speaker Brown explained all the new advancements and achievements of concrete. She is recognized as a leader in the concrete industry and was featured in the magazine Concrete Construction and named one of the most influential people in concrete. She has also earned the American Concrete Institute’s highest honor, the Joe W. Kelly Award, based on her accomplishments in the industry. 

Her presentation was all about the possibilities of concrete.

“It continues to be the most used building material in the world,” said Brown. “I compare concrete to cooking a lot. Because it really is like cooking, you are putting together different recipes for different conditions.”

She spoke about how cement is not a long-term resource, so they are always looking for alternatives as well as looking for things better for the environment.

“Fortunately we are already doing a lot of things to help the environment inside concrete mix, but there is more to do so we are always looking for more material are going to help this embodied carbon production,” she said. 

Concrete is able to be recycled and other recycled material such as glass can be included in concrete in some situations.

They are always looking for more ways to improve concrete and scientists have even found solutions in unlikely places.

Brown also spoke about how a lot of houses in tornado and hurricane areas are starting to enforce concrete-based houses. Hotels in these areas are also following suit, because concrete is more resistant.

One of the last things Brown touched on was bendable concrete and its possibilities.

“Bendable concrete works really well, it’s just expensive right now. This concrete won’t crack. It only forms very small micro cracks that will selfheal. Bendable concrete I think is coming, they just haven’t been able to figure out the price point. If I bought it today, I would pay about four times what I would pay for a normal concrete mix, but for certain projects this actually might be a better move. Think of a bridge. A bridge is constantly moving every time we go over it. If we have bendable concrete in a bridge, then the likely hood of a major crack forming is less.”

On the final slide of Brown’s presentation, she had a picture of Charles Smith and announced that he was going to be honored.

Dr. Heather Brown expands on her remarks on concrete, science, and technology when she appears in the weekly FOCUS program on public radio WCPI 91.3. The half-hour conversation airs Tuesday at 5 p.m., Wednesday at 5 a.m., Thursday at 1 p.m. and Friday at 1 a.m.