October 2019 Central Connection

October 2, 2019

Early learning matters: Initiative involves six Nebraska cities

By Joni Ransom
Communications Assistant to the President

Grand Island and five other Nebraska communities – Gothenburg, Norfolk, Red Cloud, Schuyler and Wood River – are now part of a national effort to prioritize programs and policies that will improve the well-being of children. Except for Norfolk, the selected communities are located within Central Community College’s 25-county service area.

The effort involves the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation working with the National League of Cities (NLC) as part of the City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative.

The foundation will use NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) Early Learning Communities Action Guide and Progress Rating Tool with local Nebraska leaders to assess their progress and continue to develop action plans. This initiative will also include in-person and virtual opportunities for learning from peer cities and national experts.

In Grand Island, the initiative will build on efforts already being made by H3C, which stands for the Hall County Community Collaborative. The organization’s diverse membership consists of people who work with kids from birth to 20 years old, such as educators, social workers, juvenile workers and representatives from businesses, nonprofit organizations and the health department.



As part of the initiative, two members from the H3C Early Childhood Education Subcommittee – Barb Beck, an early childhood education instructor at CCC-Grand Island, and Celine Swan, youth and family services librarian at the Grand Island Public Library – have been selected to attend the Early Childhood Success Summit Nov. 18-19 in San Antonio, Texas. They’ll have the opportunity to share what is happening in Grand Island and to learn about what other cities are doing to build an equitable early care and education system.

Beck and Swan are quick to point out they are only part of a larger group of people committed to improving early childhood education opportunities in Grand Island. This group includes Robin Dexter, assistant principal at Grand Island Public Schools; Amy Richards, early childhood education coordinator at Grand Island Public Schools; Deb Ross, a lead agency chair for the Head Start Child and Family Development Program; Jennifer Worthington, GIPS chief of strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement. Former Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen signed off to be a partner and current Mayor Roger Steele is also supportive of the initiative.

“Ninety percent of a child’s brain forms before the age of 5, and yet 40 percent of children in Nebraska aren’t ready to succeed when they start kindergarten,” Beck said. “This initiative is designed to narrow the achievement gap, improve academic success and increase the graduation rate.”

“We want more children entering school ready to learn,” Swan said. “One of our first steps is to seek leaders in the community who want to address this issue. They could be elected officials, school board members, city council members, home child care providers and individuals from area child care centers and businesses.”

Both Beck and Swann said that an engaged community will lead to a Grand Island where all children can reach their potential in a safe and healthy environment.

Investing in early childhood learning also is an investment in economic development because it helps build a better workforce. “For every $1 invested in high-quality early care and education programs, there is a return of 7 to $10,” Beck said.

The City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and is part of the Bezos Family Foundation’s vision to create an Early Learning Nation by 2025. It builds on previous work within the National League of Cities’ YEF Institute to strengthen and build local early learning systems.

Other cities receiving technical assistance from NLC as part of this initiative include Brownsville, Tenn.; Hopewell, Va.; Milwaukee, Wis.; New Orleans, La.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Pablo, Calif.; Walla Walla, Wash.; and Waterbury Conn.

Board of Governors passes 2019-20 budget

By Scott Miller
Public Relations and Marketing Director

The Central Community College Board of Governors has approved an operating budget for 2019-20, which includes a decrease in the property tax levy for the 25 counties served by CCC.

The property tax levy was set at 9.3117 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down from 9.5956 cents in 2018-19. The decrease will result in a $2 million tax savings across the 25-county service area. The decrease comes at a critical time following massive flooding this year in several Nebraska counties and lower agriculture commodity prices. CCC will cover the difference through cash reserves, additional state aid and tuition sources.

“Our first priority is the stewardship of public revenues that address the needs of students and the communities in our service area,” said CCC Board of Governors Chair Roger Davis. “Our hope is that today’s actions will help address the unique needs of this time, while maintaining our support for students and the community.”

The total tax supported budget for 2019-20 is $72,360,913 which is $377,628 less than the 2018-19

“My parents taught me that savings or reserves should be kept for a rainy day and we have certainly had some rainy days in central Nebraska this year with 24 of our 25 counties part of a FEMA declared disaster zone,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “Thankfully, the College did not sustain any significant damage to any buildings, but we know many in our communities are still suffering from their losses. We hope this relief helps in their rebuilding efforts.”

Revenue for the operating budget is estimated to come from the following revenue sources:

  • Property tax, $36,972,089, down $1,057,777 from 2018-19.
  • State aid, $9,623,041, up $46,134 from 2018-19.
  • Tuition, $9,760,868, up $242,693 from 2018-19.
  • Other sources of revenue will provide $400,000.
  • Cash reserves will provide $2,000,000.

Additionally, the college has budgeted spending $9,490,525 in the capital improvement fund, a $1,464,357 decrease from 2018-19, and $4,114,390 in a fund for removal of hazardous materials and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (HazMat/ADA), a $34,772 decrease from 2018-19. The HazMat/ADA and capital improvement funds are also supported entirely through property taxes from CCC’s 25-county service area.

Property taxes are based on property valuations for the 25 counties served by CCC, which reported a decrease in total valuation of $463,623,745, or a decrease of nearly one-percent.

Total budgeted disbursements and transfers for Central Community College for 2019-2020 will exceed $120 million.

You can have as much fun as this girl did last year by
stopping by this year’s Manufacturing Day Open House
at Central Community College-Columbus.

CCC-Columbus plans Manufacturing Open House

Central Community College-Columbus will open the doors of its North Education Center to the public from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 17.

The Manufacturing Day Open House is open to people of all ages. Activities will include a hotdog cookout; face painting; cotton candy; snow cones; tattoos; and the opportunity to drive robot cars, see demonstrations of flying ag drones and other cool technology, and grab fun giveaways and free volleyball game tickets.

The main purpose of the open house, though, is to showcase CCC’s skilled and technical programs, which prepare people for high-demand, high-paying STEM careers in advanced manufacturing, agricultural sciences, business administration and accounting, business technology, criminal justice, mechatronics, plastic injection molding, quality control and welding. Visitors will be able to visit with CCC faculty and representatives from local businesses about their products or services, their STEM positions and how CCC programs can prepare them for those positions.


Katy Ayers built her Myco-noe mushroom boat by bending pieces of oak lattice into an inner frame, wrapping the frame in plastic sheeting, using Papier-mâché to create an outer and inner mold, and building a hammock to provide extra support during the packing process. The next step was to pack the Reishi spawn (myceliated pallet wood) tightly in between the molds with the frame in the middle. After seven days of growing, the Myco-noe was ready to be unmolded. She let the boat grow for another week before the first signs of green mold showed up, which was the sign to take it outside to bake in the sun.

State fair features sustainability projects

“Thanks to the support of the CCC mini-grant and the Nebraska State Fair, students and interns were able to develop and build sustainable interactive projects,” said Ben Newton, environmental sustainability director. “They worked very hard on these projects over the summer and came up with some very unique and innovative sustainable projects.”People visiting the J-Tech Solar Sustainability Pavilion at the Nebraska State Fair had the opportunity to participate in a variety of interactive projects created by Central Community College students, interns and graduates.

Project creators (listed by hometown)

  • AURORA: Kazia Podraza, a former Grand Island Campus student and environmental sustainability intern.
  • GRAND ISLAND: Liang O’Brien, a Grand Island Campus graduate and current environmental sustainability administrative assistant; Dayana Rodriguez, a former Grand Island Campus student; and Jordan Zaugg, a Grand Island Campus student.
  • HASTINGS: Leah Wagoner, a Hastings Campus student and environmental sustainability intern.
  • KEARNEY: Katy Ayers, a Columbus Campus student and environmental sustainability intern.
  • SHELTON: Cynthia Garcia, a former Grand Island Campus student and environmental sustainability intern.


  • Earth Wall (Cynthia Garcia and Leah Wagoner): The two-foot wall is made of upcycled glass bottles and aluminum cans and is mortared with concrete. It’s an example of those used in the construction of Earthship homes common near Taos, N.M.
  • Hay Bale Wall (Kazia Podraza and Leah Wagoner): The four-foot wall is stuffed with hay inside chicken wire with an adobe plaster finish. Hay is a great insulator and is used as a sustainable alternative to insulation. Straw-bale construction was widely used in Nebraska with the first documented use of hay bales in construction being a schoolhouse built in 1896 or 1897.
  • Homemade Solutions (Leah Wagoner): Household cleaning supplies and personal care items made from organic ingredients.
  • Hydroponic System (Cynthia Garcia): A small system where herbs are grown in water with clay pebbles used as a growing media.
  • Miniature Window Greenhouse (Kazia Podraza): Old windows were upcycled to create a small greenhouse.
  • Miniature Wind Turbine (Dayana Rodriguez): A small-scale wind turbine, similar to the larger ones seen throughout the country. It gave people a chance to see the basic principles behind wind energy.
  • Myco-noe (Katy Ayers): The myco-noe is a boat grown from Reishi mushroom mycelium and recycled wood from ground pallets. Mycelium is the buoyant, waterproof, antimicrobial root-like structure of a mushroom.
  • Solar Charger (Jordan Zaugg): This project involved taking a solar battery charger and creating a unit to go around it so that it could be housed outdoors. The solar battery charger recharges lithium batteries used in the Grand Island campus’s bike share stations.
  • Sustainaspace (Kazia Podraza and Leah Wagoner): A display room featuring household furniture and decor made from used or repurposed materials. Furniture items include a cardboard chair, tire ottoman, cardboard display shelf, and reupholstered stool.
  • Upcycled into Treasures (Liang O’Brien): An assortment of homemade projects made from discarded materials including a bag crocheted from plarn, cereal box file folders, and can decorations.

Employee news

Administrative Office

Jillian Manzer has resigned as an instructional design consultant.

Columbus Campus

New employees include Rick Grabo, electrical and mechanical trainer and coordinator, an area-wide position; Landon Hunt, welding instructor; Brenda McCarty, custodian; and Chelsa Thompson, counseling and prevention education director.

Resigning are Chris Fisher, extended learning services regional director, and Tim Hamilton, custodian.

Doris Lux was recognized at the SCORE National Leadership Conference Aug. 12-14 in Reno, N.V. She received the SCORE Service Award for 25 years and the Outstanding Client Relationship Award.

Lux retired in 2018 as entrepreneurship director and business administration instructor at the Columbus Campus.

Grand Island Campus

Denise Kingery has been promoted from part-time administrative assistant for the occupational therapy assistant program to full-time administrative assistant for the OTA program and Project HELP.

Pam Bales has resigned as associate dean of nursing.

Hastings Campus

New employees include Abbie Dishong, career coach and recruiter for Project HELP; Dylan Krings, culinary arts instructor; Janet Rasmussen, medical laboratory technology instructor; and Aaron Williams, environmental health and safety specialist.

Laura Cline has transferred as an administrative assistant for Project HELP to administrative assistant for the Hastings business division and for the health science programs in Hastings and Grand Island, except for nursing.

Sean Griffin has been promoted from residence life and housing director to associate dean of students.

Resigning from their positions are Miranda Valentine, residence life coordinator, and Lori VanBoening, medical Laboratory technician instructor.

Kearney Center

Ashley Ourada has resigned as nursing assistant and medication aide instructor and coordinator.

NDEC Conference

English instructor Kim Ostdiek was named Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Developmental Education Consortium (NDEC) during its conference, which was held Sept. 26-27 at Southeast Community College in Lincoln.

The award recognizes an instructor who inspires all students to learn, makes materials accessible to all students, works for the best interest of the students and works to empower students to advocate for themselves while modeling and encouraging success strategies.

“Kim Ostdiek’s work with students is exemplary,” said a nominator. “She is a caring professional who works to ensure positive learning experiences for her students. She regularly adjusts her teaching strategies and methods to meet the individual needs of the students and she goes out of her way to provide whatever support is needed for each student.”

NDEC is an informal network of adjunct and full-time developmental English faculty primarily from two-year Nebraska colleges. Rebecca Bartlett, an English instructor at the Kearney Center, serves on its Leadership Team.