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WINTER 2019

YOUR ALUMNI NEWS

ISSUE 7

THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE CVTC ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

SHARP-EYED TREASURER

CVTC alumnus praised for catching public thieves Eau Claire County Judge Jon Theisen had harsh words for the defendant at a sentencing hearing in January 2016, but also took time to address another person in the courtroom in an entirely different tone. “Thank you for doing your job to the degree that you caught this,” Theisen said to Eau Claire County Treasurer Glenda Lyons, a CVTC alumni. Theisen said it was Lyons’ thoroughness in checking county financial figures that led to the investigation that uncovered years of embezzlement by her predecessor, Larry Lokken, and former Deputy Treasurer Kay Onarheim. Becoming the hero in a very public crime drama is not what Lyons expected when she decided as a student at Chippewa Falls Senior High School that she wanted to become an accountant. She chose CVTC’s two-year associate degree program for her training. Lyons was able to graduate from high school in January 1987, a semester early, because she had finished all her credits. “I finished high school on a Friday and started at CVTC on Monday,” Lyons recalled. She finished early at CVTC too, graduating in Spring 1988. “I was very aggressive with the number of credits I was taking each semester. I had to speak to the registrar

about it every semester. I said I could handle it. I graduated with high honors,” Lyons said. “Going to a four-year school and becoming a CPA didn’t interest me,” Lyons said. “At CVTC, the classes were focused and I was going to be done in a short amount of time. With my degree from CVTC, I was able to stand on my own.” Lyons stood on her own with accounting jobs at a rental service, a paper mill in Cornell, and at PDM Bridge in Eau Claire, where she rose to the position of accounting manager. Her first job in government accounting was as the clerk-treasurer for the Town of Seymour. When Lokken retired as county treasurer, the Eau Claire County Board appointed Lyons to replace him in 2015. “Thank you for doing your job to the degree She has retained the position by election that you caught this.” since. When Lyons took over, – JUDGE JON THEISEN she had to deal with the auditor’s request for a reconciliation. “We couldn’t make much sense out of accounts based on the records that were left for us from the previous treasurer,” Lyons said. “So we just dug right back into all the details and recreated months of records and found where the deception was made.” Lyons contacted the Sheriff’s Department. After months of further investigation, Lokken and Onarheim were arrested. Lokken was ultimately sentenced to nine and a half years in prison and Onarheim to 13 years. “My deputy and I were both very shocked and saddened that they would choose to do this with taxpayer money,” Lyons said. “And we knew this was going to ruin their lives.” Lyons’ accomplishments at the treasurer’s office go beyond her role in uncovering the crime. “We have streamlined many processes and been able to decrease staff because of the efficiencies. We’ve been able to work with the municipality treasurers to get them on our system to make their work easier, our work easier,” Lyons said.


As part of an effort by the Alumni Associations board of directors to further develop engagement with alumni, we have developed the all-new CVTC Alumni Market. This online resource found at cvtc.edu/alumni/alumni-market provides a one-stop shop for those interested in purchasing products and services from fellow CVTC alumni business owners. In addition, the site also offers an opportunity for you as a CVTC graduate and business owner to gain valuable exposure! The listing contains direct links to business websites. Registration of a CVTC alumni-owned business is free and can be done through a link on the website. We’re proud of you!

LIST YOUR BUSINESS HERE. cvtc.edu/alumni-market

CVTC TAKING STEPS TOWARD SPRING REFERENDUM

CHIPPEWA FALLS IS A GREAT PLACE TO WORK, LIVE AND PLAY

A final decision from the CVTC District Board is expected in January, but preliminary steps have been taken toward holding a spring referendum to fund facilities projects and address regional workforce needs. The CVTC Alumni Association invites alumni to be involved in the process by keeping informed of the proposals. After a community survey to gauge support for various projects, the District Board passed a resolution Dec. 5 stating its intent to issue $48.8 million in bonds to fund projects. The next step is a public hearing on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the Business Education Center. Following the outcome of the public hearing, the District Board may decide to proceed with a ballot resolution that would be considered at a January meeting. If a $48.8 million referendum passes, the tax impact would be spread over the 11-county district, resulting in an average property tax increase of $13 per year on $100,000 of equalized property value. At the Dec. 5 meeting, the board was presented with a preliminary plan calling for construction of a Transportation Education Center for $28 million, an addition and remodeling at the Emergency Service Education Center for $9.2 million, the addition of a robotic welding lab for $3 million, and purchase of land in River Falls for $2.5 million. Also included are lower-cost projects of development of mobile labs, remodeling at the Menomonie Campus, a storage facility, new labs, and razing of the West Annex. The projects would be completed over a three-year period, with much of the construction taking place in 2021-22.

With the unemployment rate at an all-time low, companies are feeling the heat as they work to fill open positions. In cooperation with seven business sponsors, the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is working to answer the call for skilled workers in our area. In May of this year, a marketing campaign was launched telling young professionals about many attractive reasons to live in our community such as: • 8 percent lower cost of living than U.S. average • 17-minute or less commute times • $119,600 median house prices As a CVTC alumni, your skill sets make you the ideal candidate to fill many of these career openings. If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited, check out this link to be refreshed on why we’re proud to call Chippewa Falls home.

chippewachamber.org/live-and-work/living-in-chippewa-falls/


CVTC MARKETING GRAD BECOMES ENTREPRENEUR

Jeremy Goss has operated two businesses As a Chippewa Valley Technical College Marketing program graduate, Jeremy Goss knows how to promote a business. And he has experience running a business. He just needed to learn a few things from his dad to develop a second successful business venture. “I’m the owner of Goss Appliance Sales and Service,” said Goss at the business’s 2106 Cameron St. location in Eau Claire. “I’ve been doing that since 2013. I also started a cleaning company in 2005 right out of college. My wife, Stephanie, runs that now.” Jeremy says the appliance services has been doing great, now with both new and used lines on the sales floor. “I provide service to in-home customers, as well as in the shop. We’re growing and I’ve only had it six years.” Serving in the U.S. Army after high school, Jeremy returned to Eau Claire when he was honorably discharged in the mid-90s. He worked a couple of jobs, then went back to school, with CVTC his first choice. “I liked the convenience of being close to where I live,” Jeremy said. “Also, I liked that it was a flexible schedule, because I still needed to work full time and I could schedule my classes around that. “One of the big reasons I like CVTC is the professors are more hands on with you,” he continued. “You’re typically not in a huge auditorium with 200 other students where the professor doesn’t have time to get to you.” It involved hard work at the time, but Jeremy was ready. “I was working full time, going to school, plus doing all the homework after I got home. Being in the military, I had a lot of discipline instilled in me. I knew how to focus and do what I had to do.” He graduated in 2003 and soon found another advantage of CVTC. “I went on to double major in business and marketing at another college. It was nice that CVTC credits were transferable, so I was able to finish with a few more credits. I went right into business afterwards and was able to apply all of it.” Jeremy and Stephanie established their cleaning business, Absolutely Taylor Maid, and were raising a young family when Jeremy’s dad needed some help at Goss Appliance, a business he started in 1998. “I just took a couple extra hours every other day or so

to come in and give him a hand. I was helping him out a little with repairs and then it just turned into more time. He could see that I was taking a hold of everything and running with it,” Jeremy said. Having learned the appliance repair part of the business from his dad, Jeremy was able to take it over full time. “I continually use the marketing skills I learned at CVTC. Whenever I’m doing any advertising and social media, I use it a lot. The sales part of the program was really helpful. I use that constantly, whenever I’m in a house, talking to a customer or in the store.”


CVTC ALUMNI FLYING HIGH IN NEW CAREERS Respiratory therapists serve on pediatric medical transport flights

A little more than two years after their 2017 graduation from the Respiratory Therapy program at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Megan Wermske and Samantha Gruen help care for some of the most vulnerable patients imaginable. They do it not just in a hospital setting, but on board an aircraft or in an ambulance while the patient is being rushed to the hospital for urgently needed care. Wermske and Gruen are registered respiratory therapists with training as flight therapists at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. “We still work at the university hospital, but part of the opportunities we have at the university is that we can be part of a transport team,” Wermske said. “We work in all units of the hospital, and have joined the transport team,” Gruen said. “When a transport is called for, we can either transport patients from our facility to outside hospitals, or go and stabilize patients from outside hospitals and bring them to our facility for care.” “The majority of our calls are NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) patients,” Wermske said. Most often that means premature babies, including “micropreemies” born after just 22 weeks gestation. For Wermske and Gruen, the training to provide therapy to neonatal patients came from their CVTC associate degrees. “Every Respiratory Therapy graduate who leaves our college has neonatal training,” said Theresa Meinen, director of clinical education for the CVTC Respiratory Therapy program. “It really gives them a leg up in job searches. Our graduates typically have multiple job offers.” Wermske said they needed two years of experience as intensive care unit therapists and completion of simulation exercises to qualify for a flight team. “We work regular shifts at the hospital, but if an air transport team needs to be gathered, one of us may be put on the team,” Wermske said. “If it’s a helicopter transport, we leave from the helipad at the hospital. If it’s a fixed-wing transport craft, an ambulance picks us up and takes us to the airport in Blaine (Minnesota). A flight crew typically consists of the pilot, a respiratory therapist, a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner. Wermske noted that sometimes a team is sent to a hospital before a baby is born, in anticipation of a premature birth and a high level of care needed. “Then we’re waiting around for the birth and rapid transport,” Wermske said. “A flight can be less than four hours, or it can be an entire shift or more.” Flights can go

CVTC Respiratory Therapy program alumni Samantha Gruen, left, and Megan Wermske sit inside a helicopter ambulance holding a medical simulation mannequin when they trained to become flight therapists with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. They are trained to help premature babies during emergency medical transports.

as far out as the Dakotas, sometimes farther. Such calls are literally life-and-death situations in which a very young life hangs in the balance. Only highly competent, level-headed people who can work calmly under pressure need apply. “You never know what you’re walking into on a transport,” Wermske said. “It can be more challenging than regular RT work. Everyone’s concern is heightened. But it is so rewarding to see them get better and go home to their parents.” Wermske and Gruen say their CVTC education prepared them for their work at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and the extra responsibility of being flight therapists. “Everything went really well at CVTC. The teachers really worked hard to get to know you and made everything personal,” Wermske said. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the RT program,” said Gruen. “Don (Raymond) and Theresa, my instructors, prepared me for my career. It’s a great program, and I am proud to have graduated from CVTC.” “Megan and Samantha were exceptional students who were a delight to have in class,” Meinen said. “They were compassionate, cooperative, diligent workers who worked well with a team.”

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