February 2020 Central Connection

February 3, 2020

O’Brien honored for outstanding service

Ronnie O’Brien of Shelton has received the 36th Annual Outstanding Service Award at Central Community College-Hastings.

The award is presented annually to a Hastings Campus employee who demonstrates exemplary service to the college.

Nominators describe O’Brien, a hospitality management and culinary arts instructor, as an entrepreneur, visionary and quiet giant in her field. They noted her positive and constructive interactions with coworkers, her ability to handle multiple duties smoothly and efficiently and her willingness to try new things.

“She never passes up an opportunity for students to have an extra learning experience outside of the traditional classroom, no matter how much time and effort it takes to coordinate,” said one nominator.

One example is having her students select, plan and execute a project for the community. “The students learn firsthand about personal accountability, the value of teamwork and the importance of communication and attention to detail,” another nominator said.

O’Brien joined the CCC staff in 2014, bringing with her experience as assistant and general manager at Wingate Inn and American Hotel and Suites in Kearney and at Midtown Holiday Inn and Best Western Riverside Inn in Grand Island.

Just prior to coming to CCC, she was education director of the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney. While there, she decided to start a Native American educational program, which led her to become involved in a corn revival project with the Pawnee Nation.

The project has its roots in the 1870s when the Pawnee were forcibly moved from Nebraska to a reservation in Oklahoma. They brought the corn they used in their diet, rituals and ceremonies, but the crops didn’t thrive in Oklahoma. By 2003, when O’Brien contacted them, the Pawnee only had 50 kernels of their most prized variety left. Although it was a difficult decision to share their corn with an outsider, the tribal leaders gave the seeds to O’Brien to plant in Nebraska. The crops thrived in their native soil and climate so, thanks to O’Brien and the other Nebraska gardeners involved in this project, the Pawnee now have a sizable store of seeds.

She continues to plant the corn on the Hastings Campus. Because of funding secured by her Pawnee Nation contact and friend, Deb Echo-Hawk, she sometimes has paid interns to help monitor and record the crop production. She also has hosted events on campus with the Pawnee Nation to increase awareness of Native American culture. Last year, the tribe gave her a Pawnee name, Irahci-Kiripue-Rikisu (Sister Little Corn). This is a high honor that has never been given to a female outside the tribe. 

O’Brien is a member of the Kool Aid Board and Daughters of the American Revolution and is involved with the Lincoln Highway Association. She is active in her church where she is director of religious education and leads classes for new members.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and is working toward a master’s degree in religious communication. 

She and her husband, Pat, have a son, Shea and two daughters, Erin and Mary Catherine.

Show to feature art, photography

Image by Joseph Ackerman (See the fly?)

The creative work of six students at Central Community College-Hastings will be on display in the media arts program’s 18th annual Student Photography and Art Show.

This year’s theme is “Vision’s Edge.” The show is presented by the exhibit preparation class. It gives them an opportunity to learn how to mat and frame their artwork, promote a show and host a reception.

The opening reception will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 1 in the new graphic arts lab in the Platte Building. The students’ work will be on display in the same location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through April 3.

The reception and show are open to the public free of charge.

Students who will be displaying their work are Joseph Ackerman of Clay Center, Mario Aguayo of Lexington, Nicholas Devore of Wood River, Matilyn Kershner of Hastings, Yessenia Serrano of Minden and Allison Smiley of Kearney.

Employees complete special anniversaries

The following Central Community College employees celebrated special employment anniversaries in 2019:

Full-Time Employees

Administrative Office

Forty-five years: Lupe Valderaz, accounts payable specialist.

Fifteen years: Tracy Watts, instructional design consultant.

Ten years: Michelle Setlik, grants compliance officer.

Five years: Cyndi Hayes, purchasing office technician; Joel King, vice president of administrative services; Krista Niemoth, purchasing office buyer; Jessica Rohan, grants manager; and Lauren Slaughter, equity and compliance manager.

Columbus Campus

Forty years: Mary Speicher, extended learning services (ELS) administrative assistant.

Twenty-five years: Dee Johnson, resource center director.

Twenty years: Ed Ballweg, facilities management assistant director; Michelle Bentz, sociology instructor; Lisa Gdowski, financial aid director; Willy Kilgore, ITS specialist; Brenda Licari, information technology instructor; Beth Przymus, dean of student success; and Ronda Ryan, registration and assessment director.

Fifteen years: Janis DeHaven, business technology instructor; Kathy Ewers, English instructor; and Glen Wiemer, building maintenance technician.

Ten years: Kathy Margheim, fine arts and student services administrative assistant.

Five years: Kathy Fuchser, campus president; Carrielynn Peace, admissions generalist; Brenda Preister, Academic Success Center (ASC) coordinator; Benda Smejkal, ELS administrative assistant; and Elizabeth Wess, student services administrative assistant.

Grand Island Campus

Thirty years: Kathy Boehler, mathematics instructor, and Linda Wilke Heil, history instructor.

Twenty-five years: Jim Kosmicki, English instructor; Jody Luce, academic education administrative assistant; Donna Moore, nursing administrative assistant; and Margaret Williams, ELS administrative assistant.

Twenty years: Donna Anderson, printing and administrative support technician, and Peg Radke, nursing instructor.

Fifteen years: Courtney Lamberson, biological sciences instructor.

Ten years: Tiffany Eggleston, nursing instructor; Mike Garretson, college media producer; Emily Gildersleeve, assessment coordinator; Janice Hill, human services instructor, who has since resigned; and Marcie Kemnitz, campus president.

Five years: Dixie Codner, resource center librarian; Jeff Lewis, enrollment specialist; Amy Marshall, paramedic academic coordinator; Meghan May, academic transfer specialist; Joan McCarthy, career and employment services director; Kelly Patterson, custodian; and Kristina Pearson, ASC coordinator.

Hastings Campus

Forty-five years: Steve Eisele, shipping and receiving clerk, and Charles McGimpsey, custodian.

Thirty years: Brad Lang, agribusiness instructor.

Twenty-five years: Dan Gompert, information technology and systems instructor.

Twenty years: Gene Friesen, drafting and design technology instructor, and Randy Manning, diesel technology instructor.

Fifteen years: Sherrie Dux-Ideus, resource center supervisor; Ju Hall, mathematics instructor; Brian Hoffman, ITS technology services director; and Reba Skalka, skilled and technical sciences administrative assistant.

Ten years: Troy Davis, advanced manufacturing design technology instructor, and Susan Kuta, recruiting systems coordinator.

Five years: Amber Braun, building control operator; Shannon James, ITS specialist; Ashley McCarter, admissions recruiting coordinator; John Oberheide, automotive technology instructor; Ronnie O’Brien, hospitality management and culinary arts instructor; Amber Smart, custodian; Lacritia Spanel, English instructor; Vicki Verbeck, custodian; and Erika Wolfe, ASC coordinator.

Kearney Center

Five years: Martha Bergquist, nursing instructor, and Jordan Eisenmenger, financial aid services associate director.

Lexington Center

Ten years: Kory Cetak, employee training director.

Part-Time Employees

Columbus Campus

Fifteen years: Jami Olson, English instructor

Five years: Bob Becker, ASC consultant; Susan Schoenhofer, Opportunity Central program assistant; Scott Schwalenberg, ASC writing coach; Michelle Watson, community education instructor; and Adam Whitmore, community education instructor.

Grand Island Campus

Twenty years: Judy Kosmicki, resource center library clerk

Fifteen years: Shirley Hughes, community education instructor, and Connie Madison, learning center manager.

Five years: Janet Hollman, community education instructor, and Mary Hubl, early childhood education instructor;

Hastings Campus

Twenty years: Vicki Buss, community education coordinator, and Dale Ray, community education instructor.

Ten years: Anne Cannon, adult education coordinator, and Margaret Wendt, community education instructor.

Holdrege Center

Ten years: David Barker, substitute clerk.

Kearney Center

Fifteen years: Peggy Frost, nursing assistant instructor.

Hahn, Keber begin their retirements

The following Central Community College employees have retired:

Cindy Hahn

Cindy Hahn of Grand Island had served as disability director at the Hastings Campus since 2010.

She previously worked at Grand Island Public Schools from 1992 to 2010 where she ran the Central Nebraska Support Services Program in GIPS and area schools, helping disabled students who were transitioning out of school as well as their parents.

Her work experience also includes serving as a vocational educator and case load manager for Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation in Grand Island and Hastings, program manager at a residential facility for adults with developmental disabilities, and a teacher at the Youth Development Center in Kearney.

After graduating from Axtell High School, she attended the University of Nebraska-Kearney where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education. She also has taken many hours of graduate-level special education courses.

She is an active member of Peace Lutheran Church in Grand Island. She is now a former member of the Nebraska Transitions Advisory Committee and Western Iowa and Nebraska Association of Higher Education and Disabilities (WINAHEAD). She also served for three years as president of WINAHEAD.

She and her husband, Darwin, have seven children: Sara Moody of Grand Island; Adam Hahn of Dubai, Arab Emirates, Laura Harrington of Waukee, Iowa; Jay Hahn of Grand Island; Justin Hahn of Norfolk; Cody Hahn of Grand Island and Shanna Randell of Grand Island. They also have four grandchildren.

Bernie Keber

Bernie Keber of Columbus was executive assistant to Campus President Dr. Kathy Fuchser in 2018-2019.

She joined the CCC-Columbus staff in 1992 as a part-time secretary in the facilities management department. On July 1, 1993, she was promoted to a full-time position as secretary for the campus president and associate dean of students. In 2002, she became an executive assistant to the campus president and served in that role until Dec. 24, 2019.

Her previous work experience includes employment as a clerk and typist, secretary, bookkeeper, fiscal coordinator and office manager at the Nebraska Human Resources Development Program in Grand Island and Lincoln and as a secretary and receptionist and then as an accountant for the Nebraska Department of Education in Lincoln; and as an accounting clerk and personnel secretary for the City of Columbus.          

Keber graduated from Spalding Academy in 1971 and earned a secretarial diploma from the Grand Island School of Business in 1972.

She is an active member of St. Isidore’s Catholic Church. She volunteered for Birthright of Columbus for 13 years and was also active in the Big Sisters Program when she lived in Lincoln and in the Big Pals/Little Pals Program in Columbus for about five years.

Student Veterans of America National Conference

Nine Central Community College student veterans and CCC employees attended the 12th annual Student Veterans of America (SVA) National Conference Jan. 3-5 in Los Angeles. They were among 2,000 people who gathered to share experiences and best practices for improving their student veteran organizations. These organizations help veterans make the transition back into civilian life and educate the public about the needs of veterans, service members and their families. Pictured above are the CCC participants, from left to right, back row: Erich Goldstein of Hastings; Keith Tinnell, Michael Rothe and Anthony Allen of Grand Island; Ashley Allen, outreach coordinator at the Hasting Campus Veterans and Military Resource Center; and Mikayla Havins of Hastings. Front row: Aaron Sands of Grand Island; Jeff Lewis, enrollment specialist and SVA adviser at the Grand Island Campus; and Rebecca Maring of Hastings. 

Employee news

Administrative Office

Elizabeth Anson is the new instructional design consultant. She begins full-time work on June 6, but will start her role for training purposes in February.

Shelly Mendez has resigned as executive assistant to the vice president of innovation and instruction.

Grants Manager Jessica Rohan has accepted a new position as development director for the CCC Foundation.

Columbus Campus

Two new full-time employees are Tonya Huhman, health programming director, and Alyssa Nickolite, executive assistant.

Wendy Ramaekers has resigned as a nursing instructor.

Grand Island Campus

Susan Klusman has joined the staff as the new nursing admissions technician.

Two employees have been promoted from part-time to full-time status: Sheryl Seibert-Bough, adult education coordinator, and Shelly Wragge, human services instructor.

Resigning from their positions are Gladis Zapata Hanaphy, registration technician, and Rachel Zeiger, nursing instructor.

Hastings Campus

Terry Beahm has resigned as assistant facilities management director.

New employees include Amy Jensen, residence life director, and Shannon Peterson, disability services director.

Joseph H. “Joe” Conrad, 90, of Hastings died Jan. 2 at his home.

Services were held Jan. 6 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Hastings with burial in Parkview Cemetery.

He was born March 10, 1929, in Burwell to Harry and Hannah (Boyle) Conrad. He graduated from Burwell High School in 1947 and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He married Sharon Cleveland on June 19, 1958, in Hastings.

He worked as a plumber for Hastings contractors before joining the Hastings Campus staff in 1967. He worked there until his retirement in 1991.

He was a member of St. Cecilia Catholic Church where he also served as an usher for many years. He also was a member of Hastings Catholic Activities Association, Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and past member of Elks Club.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Mary Petska; and a brother, Jack Conrad.

Survivors include his wife; sons, Chuck Conrad of Hastings, Steve Conrad of Tampa, Fla., Terry Conrad of Hastings, Carlie Conrad of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Rick Conrad of Grand Island; a sister, Margaret Walahoski or Ord; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Livingston Butler Volland Funeral Home and Cremation Center was in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be given to St. Cecilia Church. Private condolences may be sent to the family at www.lbvfh.com.

Lexington Center

Angela Elfgren has been promoted from part-time to full-time adult education coordinator.