They're the frontline workers – the first to respond when someone is injured or sick. They take control of emergency situations, provide immediate care, calm fears and often block the door between life and death.
With the ongoing pandemic, emergency medical technicians are needed more than ever. Many communities rely on volunteer EMTs to work with fire and emergency service departments in their areas.
McCook Community College is doing its part to help meet the demand. The college has options available for EMT classes that teach the basics of emergency care - such as how to check vital signs and how to assess, splint and transport patients.
Upon successful completion of the classes, students can take the EMT certifying exam administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Licensure is good for two years.
Three standard courses, completed over two semesters from August through May, will be offered beginning Aug. 24. Classes will be from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at MCC with instructor Steve Yager.
Classes can also be taken from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday evenings at MCC with instructor Marc Harpham or from 6-10 p.m. Monday and Thursday evenings at the Imperial EMS station with instructor Billie Hayes.
Additionally, the college will offer a one-semester accelerated EMT class with instructor Todd Hovey beginning in January and ending in May. Sessions will be from 6-10 p.m. Monday and Thursday evenings and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. one Saturday per month.
More information about any of the classes is available through Joy Molcyk, EMS/paramedic program director, at (308) 344-8035 or email@example.com.
Information about classes in the North Platte area is available through Alex McConnell, EMS/CPR coordinator, at (308) 221-6419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A joint effort between several local entities aimed at improving childcare access in the area received another boost this week with the grand opening Tuesday of BlessEng's Childcare at 1233 Norris Avenue, the location of a former church and parsonage.
In January the McCook Economic Development Corp. launched the New Childcare Provider Jump Start program, which provided scholarships to take an online eight-week course in March through McCook Community College on how to run a childcare business. After completing the course, individuals were eligible to apply for a $3,000 grant to start a childcare business in the McCook area with the condition that they stays open for at least two years or a portion of the money must be paid back.
Chelsy Eng of BlessEng's Childcare and Amanda Mullin, owner of Young Bison Childcare, are two entrepreneurs who took the classes at MCC and have been working with the MEDC, the City of McCook, the planning commission, and the Mid-Plains Community and Business Education Department to jump start their childcare ventures.
Mullen purchased Kingdom Kids Christian Daycare at 409 West Q, with a revolving loan fund for GAP funding through the MEDC for the purchase. The GAP financing and Jump Start Program allowed Mullen to fill the childcare void with previous owner Kim Tietz retiring.
Both Eng and Millen also worked with the city council and McCook Planning Commission to get approval for zoning, which for Eng, included adding additional parking spaces. Eng, who has room for 30 children, is also using the former church's parsonage as her residence.
Andy Long, McCook Economic Development Corp said he believed this is a fantastic use of the revolving loan program for an area childcare.
"It's something we desperately need," he said.
The first 11 students in McCook Community College's Bridge To Success Class arrived on campus Thursday for an orientation weekend and began their two week English preparatory class Monday.
This year's class included three students from McCook, with the others from Maxwell, Beaver City, Alabama, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Wyoming and Kansas.
These students moved in to Brooks Hall Thursday, had a welcome picnic in Kelley Park, and spent Friday on a "whirlwind" tour of McCook as well as meeting with several departments on campus including Information Technology, Library and Career Services, where they got student IDs, set up devices for internet technology, learned how to use the campus web, library data bases, printing, tutoring, Zoom, athletic study hall and more.
Weekend activities included an outdoor yoga session with Julia Kotschwar on campus and free time options like swimming.
For the next two weeks, students will spend four hours each morning in the English class, as well as a 90-minute session afternoon as well as study halls and guest speakers. The group will also establish a group service project they will be involved with this semester.
Nighttime activities for the next two weeks include: a "Dream Night and Pizza," "Movie Night," "Game Night," suppers at local restaurants and homes, and more.
Students will then help with New Student Orientation Aug. 21, and move-in day Aug. 21-22.
Sunday classes begin Aug. 23 and these students will begin their freshman English class Aug. 24.
Mid-Plains Community College is offering two of the classes needed to obtain a substitute teaching certificate from the Nebraska Department of Education.
Issues of Unity and Diversity fulfills the human relations training requirement while Intro to Professional Education can be applied to the professional education course requirement.
The classes are available through any MPCC campus location on Mondays, Aug. 24-Dec. 14. They are hybrids, meaning they contain a distance learning or in-class experience in addition to an online component.
Classroom sessions are scheduled for 4-6:30 p.m. MT in Ogallala and Imperial and from 5-7:30 p.m. CT at MPCC's campuses in McCook, North Platte, Broken Bow and Valentine.
Substitute teaching certificates are issued through NDE and are valid for three years. They allow for 90 days of teaching per school year.
Those interested in pursuing the classes offered through MPCC can contact email@example.com, (308) 535-3701 in North Platte, (308) 345-8110 in McCook or any community campus for more information or to register.
Dr. Kathy Harrison will receive the 2020 Western Regional Faculty Member Award from the Association of Community College Trustees. Harrison is the director of nursing and a nursing instructor for Mid-Plains Community College.
The award is the second of its kind Harrison has received in the past year. She was also honored with the Nebraska Community College Association's Faculty Member Award in November.
"Dr. Harrison is very deserving of this honor, and I could not be prouder that she was selected to receive this award," said Dr. Jody Tomanek, area vice president of academic affairs and NPCC. "She truly believes in what she does and goes above and beyond for our students and faculty. She works tirelessly and is the epitome of what this award is all about."
Harrison's recognition stems from her leadership, demonstration of excellence in teaching and development of innovative programs at MPCC. Her service on local and state committees, support of community colleges and previous awards and honors were also taken into consideration.
"This award came as a complete surprise to me, and I am truly honored to receive it," Harrison said. "I could not have accomplished any of this if not for the support of my family, administration and the nursing faculty, students and staff. It has taken a lot of teamwork, and I have my nursing faculty and staff to thank for that."
In her nomination letter, Harrison is touted for always putting her students first.
"It's extremely important to Harrison that the students who come through her doors are successful – not just in college, but afterward as well," the nomination letter reads. "She goes above and beyond to make sure they receive the instruction and resources to prepare them for anything life throws at them."
The letter goes on to applaud Harrison for constantly seeking new and innovative ways to present material that will make students utilize their critical thinking skills.
The nursing department's implementation of success coaching, test taking strategies, HESI preparation and remediation assignments under her leadership are also acknowledged.
"The development and coordination of a paramedic to Associate Degree Nursing bridge program, a concept-based nursing curriculum and an online course for contact hours for IV therapy - in addition to the expansion of nursing courses at MPCC's community campuses - are just some of the many projects she has taken on," the nomination letter reads. "[Harrison's] demonstrated passion and commitment to those she serves as well as to the field of higher education are what make her more than deserving of this award."
The award ceremony will take place during the 51st Annual ACCT Leadership Congress Oct. 5-8. This year, the ceremony will be virtual.
North Platte Community College will bid farewell to longtime diesel instructor Kent Beel later this month. Beel has worked in NPCC's applied technologies division for the past 35 years.
"I didn't really know what I wanted to do after I graduated from Hershey High School in 1971," Beel said. "I ended up touring NPCC with a friend who wanted to go into diesel. I grew up on a farm near Hershey, so diesel seemed like a natural fit for me, too. At the time, however, the program was full."
Beel started out in automotive instead. He took classes at a warehouse downtown because the diesel and automotive shops were just being constructed at their current North Campus location, 1101 Halligan Drive.
By his sophomore year, his classes had transitioned over to the new buildings. Beel ended up earning an associate degree in automotive and also received a diploma in diesel after taking a series of night classes.
"Mechanical work was a good fit for me," Beel said. "I've always liked working with my hands. I also enjoy the critical thinking aspect. I like taking something and figuring out how to make it work.
After college, Beel became a general mechanic for John Hertz Chevrolet in North Platte. He spent a couple years there before returning to his family's farm where he opened his own repair shop.
"I worked on all the neighbors' equipment," Beel said. "Trucks, tractors - I saw it all."
His pathway morphed back into education in 1985 when Beel's former auto instructor asked if he would consider subbing for him.
"I did for a couple days, and that was my first experience teaching at NPCC," said Beel.
Beel was then asked to fill in for the first-year diesel instructor, who had cancer and was no longer able to be in the shop. Eventually, the cancer progressed to the point that the diesel instructor couldn't teach at all.
"Ken Aten, who was the campus president at the time, asked if I would take over for a year," Beel said. "They didn't want to replace the instructor entirely in case he got better and came back."
One year turned into three. Eventually, the college decided to rehire for the position, and Beel applied for it.
"At that time, Curtis was shutting down part of its diesel program," Beel said. "The university called and asked that NPCC hold open a job for one of its instructors who had been teaching for 20 years. He got the job instead of me."
A year later, that instructor fell off a barn and broke his back. Beel was asked to fill in again. He officially became the full-time instructor in 1988, and by that time, classes had relocated to another new building.
"The current diesel shop was constructed in 1988 because the old one had been outgrown," Beel said. "First and second-year diesel had been sharing a space up to that point and each had 10-15 students every year. It was a good problem to have."
Evolving facilities were just one of the many changes Beel witnessed during his time at NPCC. Another, and probably the biggest, was technology.
"Everything is about electronics anymore," Beel said. "Fuel systems – you name it – it's all computer-controlled."
One thing that hasn't changed is the need for good critical thinking skills.
"The foundation still has to be there," Beel said. "In the repair world, you can't always just rely on a scanner because there could be multiple reasons why something is showing up on the scanner. It's still important to know how to use a shop manual and to know how to take something apart and put it back together."
Beel has enjoyed the many aspects of teaching over the years – especially helping students grasp new concepts and grow as individuals. He also enjoyed learning more about the inner workings of the college through his appointment to applied technologies division chair in 1999.
"I started going to the Board of Governors meetings and learned all kinds of things I wouldn't have otherwise known about," Beel said. "A lot goes into running a college, and it was interesting to hear about all of it."
Beel is appreciative of the freedom and independence he experienced working at the college, and he will miss both his students and coworkers as he enters retirement.
"I've made a lot of friends here, but the timing just felt right," Beel said of why he decided to retire now. "I want to have some years left to travel and do other things with our grandchildren."
Beel's final day at the college will be Aug. 31.
McCook Community College has announced its three top academic awards for 2020. These awards are normally presented at Honors Convocation, but were postponed this year because of the coronavirus. The announcement came Friday at Commencement.
Karleigh Kleinknecht, Cozad, was announced as the winner of the MCC Presidential Award. Ethan Wilcox, McCook, received the Vice President of Instruction Award and Adelina Wilcox, McCook, received the Vice President of Student Services Award.
Karleigh Kleinknecnt, who was a pitcher on the softball team, received MCC's top award, the Presidential Award, given annually to an outstanding student who has excelled in academics, leadership, and service to the college and community.
"Karleigh is not only an outstanding student who has maintained a high grade-point average for both years at MCC, but she is just a great person to be around," said a letter of nomination.
Because of her high GPA, she was eligible to join Phi Theta Kappa and jumped right in to help with the annual Purple Out for Epilepsy Awareness hosted during one of her team's softball games. She also took on roles as a student ambassador, tutor in the Learning Commons and student worker for her biology teacher, and Residence Hall Assistant. As a Student Ambassador, Karleigh encouraged recruits to get involved and was always happy to help answer any questions they may have had.
"While Karleigh had set tutor hours, she was always willing to be 'on call' as well. She came to the Learning Commons on less than an hour's notice to help a student who was asking for her," said a Learning Commons staff member. "She also took on remote tutoring in the midst of the changes on campus due to the Covid-19 outbreak. She was willing to help any student with any subject."
When an MCC faculty member had health concerns arise about the time that remote learning was implemented, Karleigh stepped up to help the instructor and even attended class zoom meetings to keep her on top of what students were working on.
Karleigh was also a student worker for the MCC Biology Department. This connection allowed her to start a Friday morning biology study group. She came to the Learning Commons every Friday morning, spread the word to students, and talked to the instructor about what students were working on each week.
"Karleigh has been an important member of the residence hall staff team, providing guidance and support for all students (on and off campus). She was committed to building community, fostering diversity, and living the MCC mission," said a nomination letter.
Karleigh took the lead coordinating a dodgeball tourney as a fundraiser for her Lady Indian softball team and also participated in Fellowship for Christian Athletes.
Ethan Wilcox – was named winner of the Vice President of Instruction Award, given to an outstanding student who has excelled in the classroom and demonstrated a commitment to continued academic achievement.
Ethan, majoring in molecular and biomedical biology, was also a regular in the Learning Commons.
"He wasn't just there for social time or to drink coffee; he was there to study! You could count on him to be there every morning by 8:30 a.m.," said his letter of nomination.
When Ethan wasn't busy with his own homework and studying, he would tutor his peers and eventually became known as "the guy who's really smart at math and science."
He was one of two representatives at MCC for the PTK All-USA Nebraska Team. This program is widely recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students seeking an associate degree or credential. Students are selected for their intellectual rigor, academic achievement, leadership, and civic growth, and for extending their educational experiences to better themselves, their schools, and their surrounding communities.
"Ethan is an outstanding student who has excelled in the classroom and demonstrated a commitment to continued academic achievement."
Adelina Wilcox received the Vice President of Student Services Award, which is awarded each year to an outstanding student leader who has demonstrated a commitment to co-curricular achievement.
"I strongly believe that you would struggle to find a student more deserving of the VP of Student Services Award than Adelina. I can vouch for her academic dedication as well as her role as a valuable member in volunteer work, campus activities, and community functions," said a letter of nomination.
Adelina impacts the PTK chapter of Eta Omicron and MCC both inside and outside the classroom. She is an excellent student, often bringing insightful questions to the PTK members regarding the PTK Hallmark writing projects and campus activities.
"More than getting work finished and out of the way, she strives to understand and apply the material to daily life while keeping the chapter on track. She is always prompt and insightful with her duties as the PTK President – duties she takes very seriously with great follow-through skills."
In that role, she attended every chapter and officer meeting, while spearheading committees for the annual Pink Out for Breast Cancer awareness, the campus Trunk or Treat event, planning fundraisers for national convention, and most importantly, ensuring a strong commitment to the other officers and chapter members in chapter projects and activities.
She was also one of two representatives at MCC for the PTK All-USA Nebraska Team. On a community level, she leads a group of about 15 youth which includes weekly lessons, a mission trip to Parmalee Indian Reservation, and directing a Christmas program.
"She fully embodies all the traits you are looking for in a scholarship recipient. Adelina carries over the communication skills learned from youth group leader to PTK President with flexibility and creativity."
Turnout was good for commencement ceremonies at North Platte Community College on Friday.
More than 120 graduates were recognized in the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium in an event that was pushed back from May to August as a result of COVID-19.
Associate Degree Nursing and Licensed Practical Nursing students graduated during a pinning ceremony prior to the regular commencement to allow for social distancing. Guests were encouraged to wear masks and had their temperatures taken prior to entering the gym.
This year's student speaker was Haiden Kreber, of Sutherland.
The President's Award was presented to the family of Tom Gorman, former area dean of economic development and training.
A McCook Community College instructor who is known for his passion about his program, his students, his college, and his community, has been named winner of the Dr. Gene Budig Outstanding Faculty Award for 2020.
Art Instructor Rick Johnson, who began teaching in the fall semester of 2004, was nominated by several colleagues and fellow staff and ultimately selected by the Budig Award selection committee and submitted to the Mid-Plains Community College Cabinet. Budig who was an MCC graduate, provides a $1,000 award each year to recognize and honor outstanding educators.
"Rick Johnson epitomizes what it means to be a community college teacher. He is entirely focused on meeting the needs of his students and the community," said one nomination letter.
There is little doubt among those on campus that Johnson is one the most personable teachers and colleagues at MCC.
"He seems to know every student's name whether he has had them or not," said one nomination letter. "Rick has always made me feel welcome by always stopping to say hello and ask how things were going. With all the responsibilities that he has, his positive and caring attitude is all the more remarkable."
"Anyone that knows Rick, cannot doubt his passion for art and for McCook Community College. He bleeds MCC blue and will defend MCC, his program and his students to no end," said another nomination letter.
Johnson's Division Chair Jean Miller said Rich is a leader by example when it comes to hard work.
"He is very good at finding extra duties for his division chair, whether she likes it or not or whether or not she has the time to complete said duties," she jokes. "However, he pushes us all to go above and beyond in our duties to help make our students more successful, while continuing to strive to ensure MPCC is a first choice."
Johnson was instrumental in creating a unique degree program, the Associate of Fine Arts. This gives artists the opportunity to explore several facets of the fine arts and prepares them incredibly well for a four-year fine arts degree and beyond. His AFA candidates show their work their last semester and give artist talks. They also participate in an oral defense of their work in order to obtain their degree. This program implements rigorous elements of a graduate degree to fully prepare students for continuing their education and beginning their careers as artists.
"Rick is absolutely a dedicated employee and instructor. He loves and is extremely dedicated to MCC and his students," said another nomination letter. "He has been and continues to be a role model and a source of support for his students and fellow faculty."
Fellow colleagues also noted how hard Johnson works to recruit students to MCC and to his program. His annual high school paint-in attracts hundreds of area high school students who create large murals in three hours. He also features area high school artists' works in the Wrightstone Gallery leading up to the paint-in competition.
"This is a huge recruitment event for the college as well a great opportunity for young artists to have their work judged by a professional artist," said one nomination letter. "Rick consistently thinks outside the box in his effort to attract students to the arts."
Even when the coronavirus prevented this year's annual paint-in exhibition on campus, Johnson worked with area high school art teachers to still showcase local art. He worked with teachers to put up more than 300 works of art up on MCC's Facebook page in MCC's first-ever virtual gallery. Likewise, when COVID-19 prevented MCC from hosting the annual portfolio exhibition of graduating art students in the Wrightstone Gallery, Johnson once-again shifted focus to create a virtual gallery showcase which also linked to each graduating sophomore's home studio art page. Almost every semester Johnson will take students to area art exhibitions which gives them opportunities to view renown works by artists like Claude Monet earlier this academic year at an exhibit in Denver.
"Rick Johnson is constantly working to grow and improve as an instructor and a mentor to his students. Rick is always willing to schedule time to help his students complete their projects or help them with personal issues so that they may always be successful." said one colleague.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Johnson manages the Wrighstone Gallery and installs several great shows each semester. He brings in exhibits on loan from larger museums and highlights local artists as well as world-renowned artists and exhibitions.
"It is a privilege for our college and community to have access to such a well-curated fine gallery," said a fellow faculty member.
"Rick also deeply rooted in the community," said one fellow employee. "He takes his passion for art and MCC, and interjects it into McCook public schools, the local community arts associations and area art organizations, outside of McCook, as well."
It is not uncommon to see Johnson at three or four MCC sporting events each week. One colleague notes that "Rick probably owns every sport's cap, hoodie, sweatshirt and t-shirt (long and short sleeved) in every color and style, cheers them on, and is on a first-name basis with not only student-athletes but even with students who are not in any of his classes."
One MCC employee noted that Johnson's "outstanding teaching and assessment of student learning" was evident after the death last year of former MCC Instructor, Clay Grizzle.
"Rick stepped in and talked to all his students about their options to continue their coursework, offered them solutions to their concerns about their classes and thoughtfully rearranged his own schedule to accommodate the students who were lost," said yet another letter of nomination.
"Rick is quite simply one of the most successful and invaluable instructors of this educational system."
Budig Award Winners
2008 – Loretta Hauxwell
2009 – Sue Watts
2010 – (No winner)
2011 – Megan Friesen
2012 – Janet Stalder
2013 – Becky Meyers
2014 – Rob Bogardus
2015 – Jim Hall
2016 – Lorrie Mowry
2017 – Tyler Esch
2018 – Susi Curl
2019 – Clay Grizzle
2020 – Rick Johnson
Mid-Plains Community College recognized graduates of its Associate Degree Nursing and Licensed Practical Nursing programs during a pinning ceremony Friday in North Platte.
The following students were honored:
Associate Degree of Nursing
Broken Bow – Emily Gottschalk
Brule - Emilia Pacheco
Indianola – Ashlee Morosic
Sutherland – Josiah Barmore
McCook – Neyva Flores, Jasmyn James, Taylor Matson, Baylie Simmonds
Merna – Andrea Wilder
North Platte – Kylin Brooks, Shayla Hecht, Abbey Jones, Allison Kramer, Amanda Mays, Madelyn Peters, Mindy Schmadeke, Mara Wardyn, Emma Young, Jenna Young
Ogallala – Kelsie Medina
Julesburg – Derek Farmer
Licensed Practical Nursing
Bassett – Michael Clay
Hershey – Thomas Derr, Amanda Reiber, Brooke Sheets
Long Pine – Emily Draze
Mullen – Lindsay Fay
North Platte - Karen Anthony, Ashley Barnhart, Andrea Clouatre, Xiaofei Croutcher, Cristal Gonzalez, Jordan Goodall, Samantha Gutherless, Skyler King, Scarlett Mijares, Jessica Owen, Jessica Owens, Nicole Schmit, Tylan Silos, Kaylee Yonkers
Oconto – Kaela McDaniel
McCook – Brenda Aguirre, Shelby Rowe
Valentine – Heidi Edington, Brittni Hoffman
Heather produces and distributes press releases for the college. She began work at MPCC in 2014. Prior to that, she spent five years as the news director/web manager for Eagle Radio in North Platte. From 2009-2014 she worked as a reporter/photographer for The North Platte Telegraph. Heather has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Chadron State College.
Area Communications Specialist
Brent L. Cobb
McCook Community College News Bureau Coordinator