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Oct 26
Applications open Nov. 1 for next Hormel business competition


Applications officially open Nov. 1 for the next round of the Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition and a chance at a share of $25,000.  This competition is open to residents in seven area counties who have business ideas or plans to expand an existing businesses.

"One of the best ways to keep southwest Nebraska economically sustainable is to help support and develop the people and businesses we already have," said Sharon Kircher, Mid-Plains Community College Business & Community Education Coordinator.

Thanks to donation from the Hormel family and many area sponsors, MPCC is offering a new edition of the Hormel Business Plan Competition this year.

Over the years the competition has changed to allow for more economic growth in southwest Nebraska. The winner no longer receives a prize in the form of a small business loan. Instead, $25,000 is available to competition finalists with no strings attached.

After the November application process ends Nov. 30, judges will chose semifinalists to compete in the Spring Hormel Business Plan Competition. They will receive a scholarship, valued at about $336, to attend a mandatory eight-week online Entrepreneurship Business Plan writing class offered through Mid-Plains Community College during the 2021 spring semester.

After successful completion of the class, semifinalists have until April 2, 2021, to comprise and submit their business plans to the MPCC office of Business and Community Education. Judges will choose finalists to present their business plans and make presentations on April 23, 2021.

In April of 2019, Tyler McCarty's idea to bring a shrimp farm to the area won him $18,000 through this program, to help establish "Saltwater Hills" south of McCook near "M" Hill. Six other finalists earned $2,000 to help infuse area business startups and expansion in the area. Past winners also include: Citta' Deli, Game On Games, and The Loop Brewing Company.

Kircher said the main objective of the Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition at McCook Community College is to stimulate entrepreneurship and support business expansion in southwest Nebraska.

Participants have to be a new startup business or an existing business that has been operating no more than five years, who are looking to expand in southwestern Nebraska (consisting of Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, and Red Willow counties.)

A complete set of rules, and more information about the competition is available on the Mid-Plains Community College website at:

The Hormel Family Foundation was founded in 1999 by the late Ben F. Hormel, a McCook entrepreneur, to support McCook Community College. Among his many business ventures, Hormel operated the Chevrolet dealership in McCook. When he passed away in 2002, he passed on the torch to his children and grandchildren, who operate the foundation today.

Their foundation is committed to education, entrepreneurship and business development in the McCook and southwestern Nebraska economic region. They believe that education and entrepreneurship are the strongest weapons against the population loss.


Oct 26
Rebranded MCC Club aiming to 'Be The Change'

A McCook Community College club, organized several years ago to bring social awareness to campus is back again this semester under a new name. The Social Justice Club, formerly the Gay-Straight Alliance, has changed names to broaden its focus on a wider range of issues.

The group will meet the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at room 222 in Barnet Hall at 2:15 p.m.

According to Faculty Advisor Sheri Hink-Wagner, a sociology/criminal justice instructor, the MCC Social Justice Club will strive to build equity and understanding at MCC.

"We work to raise student awareness around relevant cultural issues with a goal of giving students a platform for change and action through justice education, consciousness raising and activism," she said. "The club's goal is to give students tools to make lasting changes in their lives and their communities."

Sophomore Destiny Davis is president of the group, Terasa Emmons vice-president, and Jessika Espinoza is secretary.

The next meeting is set for Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. in room 222 of Barnett Hall.

Oct 26
NPCC to host blood drive Nov. 9


North Platte Community College will host an American Red Cross blood drive Nov. 9 on its South Campus. The drive, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. outside McDonald-Belton Gymnasium. 

All blood, platelet and plasma donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Test results will be available within seven to 10 days through the Red Cross Blood Donor app or donor portal at 

A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. 

The Red Cross estimates that about 20 percent of blood donations each year come from young donors, such as college students. The need is urgent as hospitals resume surgeries and treatments that require blood products. 

Individuals must be at least 16 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to donate. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger must also meet certain height and weight requirements. 

Those interested in making an appointment or receiving more information can do so through the American Red Cross Blood Donor app, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

Donors are encouraged to complete the RapidPass online health history questionnaire at to help speed up the process. A blood donor card, driver's license or two other forms of identification will be required at check-in. 

Blood drive safety precautions 

To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation. 

Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance. 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks and social distancing – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. 

Oct 21
NPCC softball/historical museum team up for movie night


The North Platte Community College Knights Softball Team is joining forces with the Lincoln County Historical Museum to offer throwback horror movies Oct. 30-31 at the museum. 

The event takes the place of the haunted village fundraiser the organizations typically cohost, which was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. 

The movies will be offered in a drive-in format. They will begin at 7 p.m. each night. The movies will include, "House on Haunted Hill," "Nosferatu" and "Hitch Hiker." 

Admission is $5 per person. Hot dogs, popcorn and bottles of water will also be available for $2 per item. Proceeds will be split between the team and museum.

Oct 21
NPCC Theater Department presents “2020: A Year of Absurdity”

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North Platte Community College's theater department will present "2020: A Year of Absurdity" Nov. 1-2. 

The play will be offered through a free livestream at 7:30 p.m. each night on the college's YouTube channel:

The production will feature six short plays from the Theatre of the Absurd as well as selections from NPCC's music department. 

The plays will include works from Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Eugène Ionesco and others. The plays are intentionally ambiguous, allowing viewers to draw different meanings from them. 

"Plays from the "Theatre of the Absurd" focus on existentialism ideas and express what happens when human existence lacks meaning or purpose and communication breaks down," said Ritch Galvan, NPCC theater instructor. "They are purposely nonsensical. Logical construction and argument give way to irrational and illogical speech and uncertain conclusions. I thought because of the events of the year, presenting these works could give an insight into our experiences." 

The cast members for the production consist of Dylan Rogge, of Fairbury; Desaray Schwarz, of Cozad; Chris Terry, of Grant; Allison Thalken, of Ringgold and Wendi Stover, of North Platte. 

Oct 20
Harrison awarded 2020 Western Region Faculty Member Award


Dr. Kathy Harrison receives the 2020 Western Region Faculty Member Award from Mid-Plains Community College President Ryan Purdy. 

Harrison is the director of nursing and a nursing instructor for MPCC. She earned the award from the Association of Community College Trustees based on her leadership, demonstration of excellence in teaching and development of innovative programs. Her service on local and state committees, support of community colleges and previous awards and honors were also taken into consideration. 

Harrison was recognized for her efforts during the 51st annual ACCT Leadership Congress, which was conducted in a virtual format Oct. 5-8. 

Oct 19
Accelerated Paramedic training scenarios keep students thinking ‘outside the box’


Accelerated Paramedic students at McCook Community College recently responded to simulated ATV accident staged on campus with multiple patients, but they were dispatched to a scene where only one injury was reported.

In this training scenario, students were dispatched to a rural accident and discovered a conscious but "intoxicated" individual who had rolled an ATV during the night. Scenarios are a regular part of the students' training and in this one, it took several minutes to discover a second, unreported individual, who was hidden on the back side of the ATV, wrapped around a wheel.

EMS/Paramedic Program Director Joy Molcyk (who played the role of second patient in this scenario) said in this exercise it can take students up to 20 minutes to find the second patient, and one year, the students didn't find the second patient at all. She said she continues receiving positive feedback for the way the instructors are teaching students to "think outside the box" and to not make assumptions, through exercises like this one.   

MCC's Accelerated Paramedic Program is designed to provide the required classroom training and education to develop competent Paramedics. The accelerated version of the paramedic training consolidates the didactic training into a 12-week session. Students attend class 40 contact hours per week for 12 weeks, after which, they complete clinical rotations and field internships at contracted sites across the United States.

In this fall session of the course – one of three sections held each year -- students have come from Kansas, California, Oregon, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Washington.


Oct 16
MPCC marketing and public information team wins Medallion Awards


The efforts of the Mid-Plains Community College Office of Marketing and Public Information have been recognized at the regional level. 

MPCC's marketing team was honored with three Medallion Awards during the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District 5 virtual awards ceremony Friday.  

The Medallion contest is the only regional competition of its kind that honors excellence exclusively among marketing and public relations professionals at two-year colleges. 

Jessica Epting, MPCC area webmaster and graphic designer, earned a bronze Medallion for the college's 2018-19 annual report. 

Brent Cobb, news and sports information coordinator, also earned a bronze Medallion in the Original Photography (Unmanipulated) category. 

The office, as a whole, earned a bronze Medallion for a series of television advertisements created to promote MPCC and its program offerings. 

Mid-Plains competed against community colleges throughout Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Canadian province of Manitoba, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Oct 14
Electrical students help Habitat for Humanity


Electrical Technology students from North Platte Community College dig a trench for service conduit Wednesday. It was part of a North Platte Area Habitat for Humanity project that allowed the students to gain real world experience while also giving back to the community that supports them. 

Oct 14
MPCC alum finds variety/fulfillment through career in nursing

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Nearly 30 years into the nursing profession, Michelle McNea continues to be amazed by all the opportunities the field has to offer. 

"The variety is part of what I love about it," McNea said. "Nursing is different for everyone because there are numerous avenues you can pursue. I've been fortunate to do so many things that fall under that nursing umbrella and involve working with patients. That's what my personality lends itself to – helping others and building relationships." 

The O'Neill native narrowed her career choices down to two at an early age but didn't choose nursing as much as it chose her. 

"I always kind of toggled between teaching and nursing and actually have enough teaching credits to be a sub," said McNea. "I enjoy working with children – especially lower elementary level, but that draw of the medical field and patient care was ultimately too strong to pass up." 

During her high school years, McNea spent summers working at a local clinic, and the doctors and nurses there were some of her earliest mentors. While that played a part in her decision to become a nurse, much of her desire was fueled by an experience she had when she was 16. 

"I nannied for a certified registered nurse anesthetist, and he took me to watch an open gallbladder surgery," said McNea. "That cemented the deal. I knew immediately I wanted to go into a medical profession."

McNea graduated from O'Neill High School in 1984 and subsequently enrolled at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. 

"My intent was to go into nursing, but after I got there, I had a bunch of friends in education, so I made the switch – thinking maybe I wanted to take the teaching route after all," said McNea. 

Plans changed again when she followed her then fiancé, Mel McNea, to North Platte in 1987. 

"I couldn't finish my teaching degree there at that time, but I could become a nurse," said Michelle. "I talked to the nursing instructors at Mid-Plains Community College, and they told me to just be patient because, while they already had a [Licensed Practical Nursing] program, they were just getting ready to start an Associate Degree Nursing program." 

Michelle took the advice and hired on with the medical records department at what is now Great Plains Health. She worked during the day then attended classes at night to get her nursing prerequisites out of the way. She was accepted into the college's first ADN class in 1990 but waited to start until 1991. 

"I was trying to balance being a young mother while working on my prerequisites, and by the time I got done with them, there was another baby on the way," Michelle said. "By 1991, I had a 5-year-old, 2-year-old and was pregnant with our third. We had to buckle down and concentrate on what was important. Mel was still doing radiology for the hospital, and I quit my job to focus more on school. For two years, our lives consisted primarily of work, nursing school, the kids and church on Sundays." 

The dedication paid off, and Michelle earned an associate degree in nursing from MPCC in 1993. 

"Mid-Plains was such a blessing," Michelle said. "It definitely prepared me for the real world. I did clinicals at the hospital as a student, which came full circle when, later on in my career, I got to work with other MPCC nursing students who were at the hospital for clinicals." 

Seeing them in action made her appreciate the high standards her instructors had held her to even more. 

"It wasn't just the nursing skills, but how to be professional," Michelle said. "They taught us honesty, integrity, accountability and to have pride in what we did – the whole package that it takes to be a nurse. I don't always see that in graduates of other programs." 

Michelle took on three part-time jobs immediately after entering the nursing profession. She worked as a caregiver for Home Health and was an office nurse for both North Platte Surgical Associates and Internal Medicine Associates. She became full-time at Internal Medicine when more hours opened up and stayed there for seven years. 

"I learned a lot from every job I had," Michelle said. "Each prepared me for the next step." 

Her career with Great Plains Health began in 2000 when she took a job as a staff nurse in the Cardiac Rehabilitation department. From there, she worked her way up to Occupational Health coordinator, house supervisor and transitions of care registered nurse. 

It was while working as the Occupational Health coordinator, that Michelle decided to go back to school by taking online classes through the University of Nebraska Medical Center. 

"The timing was right," Michelle said. "By then, my youngest was getting ready to finish high school, and I was at the point in my career where I was leading a department, crafting policies and taking on more administrative type responsibilities. Because the classes were online, I was able to take them at my own pace over about three years, and that degree led to me getting the house supervisor job." 

Michelle's daughter was pursuing a nursing degree at the same time. They both graduated with bachelor's degrees in May of 2012 and were both inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. 

"That was a tremendous honor – made even more fun by the fact that I was experiencing it with my daughter," Michelle said.

Although still officially a PRN and fill-in house supervisor, Michelle has temporarily taken a step back from her work at the hospital to take on another role – grandma. She's currently nannying for her daughter, who is pursuing anesthesiology in Omaha, while also doing continuation of care remotely for Great Plains Health. 

"It's just another example of how nursing has evolved over the years," Michelle said. "I can do discharge calls from across the state." 

She's grateful for the opportunity and for the path her life took. If not for MPCC, she could have easily ended up in another profession. 

"Having the college and it's nursing program in North Platte was the key to everything," Michelle said. "It's a great asset for the whole region because nurses are able to advance without having to go far from home. That's a game changer for a lot of people with families, and it strengthens the entire health care community by having highly skilled workers. I'm a big patron of community colleges." 

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Heather Johnson
Area Communications Specialist

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.

Brent L. Cobb
McCook Community College News Bureau Coordinator​