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HHS on fire PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Students at Holyoke High School caught the Dragon spirit during their “Fuel the Fire” Homecoming festivities last week.

Pictured above, sophomores Brook Prottsman and Norman Mendoza head to the Homecoming Dance, one of the silly class competitions during Olympic Day Thursday, Sept. 25.

At left, cheerleaders Lori McWilliams and Lynnette Stark cheer on the Dragons during the pep rally Friday, Sept. 26.

HHS won all of its varsity athletic competitions during the Homecoming weekend.

—Enterprise photos

Holyoke Enterprise October 2, 2014
Appointment of Tharp rescinded; Bishop to fill school board vacancy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

After a four-hour executive session of the Holyoke School Board Wednesday, Sept. 24, board president Kris Camblin rescinded his appointment of Jeff Tharp to fill the board vacancy created with the resignation of Kim Killin in June.

Camblin then appointed Nici Bishop, who will be administered the oath of office at the Oct. 7 board meeting.

Tharp served two full terms as a board member and finished his service last November. He was appointed by Camblin to fill the board vacancy Aug. 19.

Camblin noted that a call to him on Sept. 17 indicated there was a concern about the legality of Tharp’s appointment to the board with regard to term limits. The school attorney looked into the issue, and preliminary information was sent to Camblin and forwarded to the rest of the board Sept. 18.

“It was at this time we determined a special meeting was necessary so each board member could hear the opinion of our attorney and ask questions,” said Camblin.

The only agenda item for last Wednesday’s special meeting was an executive session with two purposes.

For the first 65 minutes of the closed session, the board held a conference call with attorney Jim Branum of Caplan and Earnest to receive legal advice on the specific legal question of Tharp’s appointment to the board, considering the term limit law. Superintendent Bret Miles was included in the first 45 minutes of the session.

The second part of the executive session involved personnel matters to discuss the evaluation/employment of Miles. This portion of the closed session lasted just short of three hours, with Miles present for the last hour.

At the conclusion of the executive session last Wednesday evening, Camblin said, “We have had the opportunity to review the complex term limit law. There is no case law to rely on in this situation, only some opinions that we can use to inform our decision.”

“We have even learned that different attorneys have taken different positions on this very term limit question,” added Camblin. He noted that although there is ambiguity in the law, the board does not wish to risk pending board action should the qualifications of Tharp be challenged by someone down the road.

Camblin emphasized that each board member has a great deal of respect for Tharp and his outstanding record as a board member and board president, as well as his willingness to serve in this vacancy.

However, he said the most prudent route to pursue is to change the appointment.

Because the board vacancy had exceeded the 60-day time period within which the full board had to make a decision, Camblin appointed Tharp at the Aug. 19 meeting.

Still being beyond the 60-day time limit from when the vacancy occurred, Camblin pointed out that it is still the board president’s duty to make the appointment to fill the vacancy. He then announced he was appointing Bishop.

Holyoke Enterprise October 2, 2014

Local 4-H mentors share joys of making lasting impact on youth PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

Pledging head, heart, hands and health may seem like a heavy load to handle. But without empowering the whole self, a person cannot expect to reach one’s full potential.

These are the four leaflets of the 4-H clover, and local mentors and project leaders are, in essence, the stem that supports the clover, helping it to grow from cloverbud into a flower of fortune.

Oct. 5-11 is National 4-H week. Mentors are the glue that holds the whole project together. They complete the 4-H vision of “a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.”

“The most significant experiences that I have had as a 4-H leader were not the big things like winning the purple ribbon at state,” said Gloria Bergner. “They were the little things, like witnessing the willingness of other adults in this community who voluntarily mentor our youth. And being humbled by the generosity of businesses and community members who always come through for the kids. These things are huge to my family and me.”

Bergner has been an integral part of the local 4-H organization for a long time, as a Challengers club leader, child development program leader, judge, mentor, parent and overall supporter. She and her husband Ohlee have raised their four children through 4-H and are glad they got involved early on.

4-H was unfamiliar territory for Bergner, but she decided to enroll her oldest son Clifton, who is now 33, for a trial year to see if it was something their family would find valuable.

“I agreed to take the leap, and here we are 28 years later, still 4-H parents,” Bergner said. “I guess you can see that we have never looked back. It has been a valuable experience for my children and for me!”

Working with 4-H meant she got to learn right alongside her children, who dabbled in many different projects. She also feels privileged to have witnessed significant measurable growth among the program’s youth from year to year, as she described numerous alumni and what they have become in their lives and careers.

“I am richer because I got to be a 4-H parent and leader. I got to work with these kids. I got to watch these members develop the confidence and skills to mature into people who really do ‘Make the Best Better.’ They were role models for my children.”

Other project leaders were 4-H members when they were younger. The understanding of having been mentored in the program has instilled in them a helping heart, leading them to become mentors themselves.

Joan Bogan was a home economics 4-H leader in Adams County before coming to Phillips County, where she has been a volunteer for seven years. She started volunteering to allow others the same chance she had in her 4-H youth career.

“I loved the opportunities it gave me as a kid,” Bogan said. “I’ve never come across another place where kids and families can be rewarded like in 4-H.”

Bogan spoke of her passions for teaching and sewing and how it is very rejuvenating and thrilling to watch how kids grow through the years, keeping their focus on developing their skills and not on winning a prize.

“It’s how they use what they’ve learned after 4-H that impresses me, as they pursue their skills and the many other possibilities out there.”

Bogan pointed out that being a mentor is a lot of work, but it is greatly rewarding. And there is a need for more volunteers in the local 4-H program.

Local veterinarian Darrell Tomky has worked with horses and other livestock for many years and has now been a 4-H project leader in the horse category for two years.

Tomky described how he was at a 4-H horse show and saw a few aspects that could use some assistance.

“I thought to myself, ‘I would like to help,’” Tomky said.

The ability to help multiple youth members develop their passions and teach important life lessons that will help them to be a better person in any future capacity was a significant draw for Tomky to become a 4-H leader. It is also right in line with the 4-H mission to “empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.”

Tomky talked of his experiences with Kaitlyn Kent, a 4-H member who trains with and shows his horses.

“She truly has a natural God-given gift that some people don’t have with animals,” Tomky said. “I have a measure of it, but not like she does.”

Darrell Tomky and Kaitlyn Kent greet the crowd as they ride two of Tomky’s horses through the fair parade in 2012. Tomky has been a 4-H mentor to Kent and has helped her pursue her love of working with horses.  

—Enterprise photo

He said Kent plans to make a career of working with horses. Kent has worked with Tomky and his wife Debbie and Denise Smith and her daughter Janna.

“I really appreciate all the help and the advice that they give me,” said Kent, speaking of her mentors. “They have made my dreams of being in 4-H and being very successful happen through the program.”

Tomky also said he is happy to help lead Kent and other 4-H youth into lives where they’ll enjoy what they love.

“I can help them with the horses’ discipline, and I can help with the kids’ discipline.”

Ron and Carrie Anderson are also mentors who have to stress the importance of discipline in their 4-H groups. Ron has been a project leader in the .22 caliber rifle category for many years, and Carrie is a rabbit leader.

“Learning to shoot isn’t quick and easy,” Ron said. “It takes lots of practice and is learned by repetition.”

Patience is highly important, for both the kids and the leaders, according to Ron.

Raising rabbits requires lots of discipline as well, and Carrie Anderson said she has had lots of fun watching kids learn what they have to do when they take rabbits and care for them.

She described working with kids as they grew from day one to seeing judges have trouble deciding who had done the best work.

“4-H really lives up to the motto, ‘Making the best better,’” Carrie said. “The kids’ growth potential and know-ledge is astounding. It is one of the best programs kids can be a part of.”

The development of connectedness in the community was something all of the mentors agreed upon.

“We get such a wide variety of thoughts and attitudes,” Carrie said. “The camaraderie among parents and kids as we watch projects we’ve planned out come together is really touching.”

4-H mentors provide self-less, loving guidance, and the life lessons shared through 4-H are things that stick in the forefront of members’ memories throughout their lives. The experiences go far beyond winning and losing in each respective category.

“We got to watch many kids as they grew into calm, cool and collected public speakers, role models and leaders in our club, our community and beyond,” Bergner said. “When my family reminisces about 4-H, our conversation almost always involves the social and community things we participated in and rarely involves what ribbons were won.”

Holyoke Enterprise October 2, 2014

Hospital emphasizes focus on benefits to local community PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

Community support and engagement were held to high importance at the East Phillips County Hospital District board meeting Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Hospital administrator John Ayoub discussed the price transparency efforts the hospital is making to be as open and clear as possible with the community.

“Our prices are ultimately driven by the consumers,” Ayoub said. “We strive to offer a fair, reasonable rate and a fair, reasonable price.”

Ayoub also noted that early next year a new online metric will be available that will allow people to compare prices for services at various health care facilities. He hopes that MMH’s focus on quality care will keep patients from going elsewhere, even if MMH’s price on a procedure is slightly higher than another provider’s price.

To further the push toward quantitative community benefits, Ayoub told the board that discussions have been ongoing with regard to utilizing a program that will offer medications at lower costs to community members.

“The two pharmacies in town are in favor of the program and would like to move forward with it,” Ayoub said.

A beginning date for the program is not set, but Ayoub is confident that it will be implemented in early 2015.


Federal funding down, local funding up

Current federal funding for MMH in 2014 is only at around $10,000. This is approximately a 50 percent decrease from last year’s federal funding total. The good news is that at the Sept. 14 MMH Foundation’s Legacy of Thanks event, it was announced that 32 new $1,000 or more additions were made to the donor wall in the hospital lobby.

Board members reverberated Ayoub’s sentiment that executive director Nancy Colglazier and the MMH Foundation are doing excellent things in the Holyoke community.

MMH Foundation president Steve Young announced that the $20,000 raised at the April Legacy Event was placed into a CD account. The Foundation is on track to disperse the funds it has accumulated from past Legacy Events after next year’s event, which will mark the end of the set accumulation period.

Other hospital grant totals for the current year to date are sitting around $90,000.


Meaningful use stage 2 attestation to begin soon

MMH has been undergoing a lengthy attestation process concerning the meaningful use of electronic medical records. The hospital is wrapping up stage 1 of the process, and stage 2 will begin Oct. 1.

On the clinic side, the process only looks at eligible physicians’ meaningful use. Dr. Alison Lauber and Dr. Aaron Wilson are still in the stage 1 period. But Dr. Dennis Jelden begins his stage 2 attestation Oct. 1.

“During stage 2, we are needing 50 percent of patients to sign up to access electronic records on the patient portal on the hospital’s website,” Ayoub said.

More community engagement through the patient portal website will help the hospital overall, as well as during this attestation period, according to Ayoub.

“In the future, we will have a lot more useful things on the portal that will benefit patients.”


Other business

In other business Sept. 23, board members:

—were made aware that the ambulance grant request was successful, and the hospital is in the process of purchasing a new one.

—announced the retirement of Bette McCormick after 55 years in the medical records department.

—noted Kelsey Salimi from the hospital’s dietary department is the Employee of the Month.

—heard from Holyoke City Council member David Churchwell as he presented the council’s term limit ballot question information and detailed the benefits of removing term limits for city council positions.

—were informed that, if in a scenario where hospital administrator Ayoub is ever incapacitated, a leadership team, made up of Pat Notter and Sharon Greenman, has been delegated to provide interim leadership until the board can meet to appoint a new administrator.

­—approved credentialing of Lorin Brandon, DPM, podiatry; Brian Lyle, M.D., cardiology; Cecilia Hirsch, M.D., cardiology; Paul Hurst, M.D., cardiology; William Ketcham, M.D., radiology; Deana O’Gorman, FNP, family medicine; David Reed, M.D., OB-GYN; Peter Webb, P.A., cardiology; Lin-Wang Dong, M.D., cardiology; Alison Lauber, M.D., family medicine; and Judith Weimer, FNP, family medicine.

—held a 40-minute executive session following the meeting to discuss personnel matters.

—announced the next board meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m.

Holyoke Enterprise October 2, 2014