Alumni & Friends Magazine Volume 5 | Summer 2019

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VOLUME 5 | 2019

Eric Schramm NPCC Alumni empowering students to build more than structures (p7)

FROM THE PRESIDENT Greetings Alumni of Mid-Plains Community College,


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Transforming lives through exceptional learning opportunities for individual student success. This is our mission; it guides our decisions and reflects on who we are and what we do. In 2018-19, 396 students graduated with 453 certificates, diplomas, and degrees. Ninety percent of those graduates rate the quality of instruction they received as good/very good. Eighty one percent rate the usefulness of their training good/very good. In December, we said thank you to two Board of Governors for their combined 16 years of service as they both decided to not seek reelection for third terms. Dr. Mike Owens represented the four counties of District One. Garry Lawyer represented the five counties of District Two. Both members represented MPCC to their constituents with passion and served during administrative leadership transition in 2012 and also during several new facility projects amongst our campuses during their tenure. In January, we welcomed two new Board of Governors to fill the vacant seats in Districts One and Two. Alexis Davison was elected to fill the seat previously held by Dr. Mike Owens. Alexis is an attorney and resides in McCook. Pam Abbott was elected to fill the seat previously held by Garry Lawyer. Pam is a selfemployed farmer/rancher and former educator and resides in Ogallala. In 2018-19, Mid-Plains Community College partnered with North Platte Public Schools on a building construction career academy. Students spent their afternoons at North Platte Community College-North Campus during their senior year. At the end of the year, if successful, they received a certificate in building construction and will complete an

Associate’s Degree with one additional year in the program. In the classroom, 31 Mid-Plains Community College student-athletes were named to one of three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) all-Academic teams. Seven members of the Rodeo Team qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo and the top performer finished third in Steer Wrestling. All seven sophomores of the McCook Indians Volleyball team earned scholarships to continue playing volleyball at four-year colleges. The McCook Men’s Golf Team earned their second straight appearance in the National NJCAA tournament. A former McCook Men’s baseball player was taken in the third round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Yankees. The North Platte Lady Knights Women’s Basketball team qualified for the NJCAA Division II National Tournament. The North Platte Knights Men’s Basketball team finished the season with an impressive 24-5 record. During the 2018-19 year, MPCC sought input for the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. MPCC’s vision for this strategic plan is to be “First Choice for our Region” for education, partnerships, employers, and employees. Ten strategic objectives have been identified from the input gathered at 12 community input sessions, and several employee and student input sessions during the fall and spring of 2018-19. Be watching for the release of the strategic plan to see where we are headed for the next three years based on the input of our stakeholders. Thank you all for your support of Mid-Plains Community College. We take pride in serving our communities and desire to continue to improve in all areas to sustain and grow westcentral and southwest Nebraska.


Dear Alumni and Friends,





The women and men who have graduated from Mid-Plains Community College are living examples of the power of an MPCC education. I’m constantly struck by how everyone in the communities we serve seems to know someone who is attending or has graduated from MPCC. Our graduates are teachers, healthcare professionals, electricians, firefighters, entrepreneurs - the backbone of a prosperous, healthy workforce and great ambassadors for the college, whether they realize it or not. Additionally, the college is deeply appreciative of the support alumni and friends of MPCC have provided, through contributions to the McCook and North Platte Community College Foundations, so that future generations of MPCC students can realize the benefits of postsecondary education. An investment in MPCC, whether it’s for student scholarships, academic program support, athletics, or facilities, will ensure that MPCC honors its mission of transforming lives through exceptional learning opportunities for individual student success. There are numerous ways to support MPCC. I personally invite you to drop us a line, send an e-mail, or give us a call. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about how your investment will ensure a brighter future for our great institution and the students we serve. With gratitude,

BONNIE KRUSE, Area Director of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director, NPCC Foundation


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Message from the President

Compassion leads to profession



18 Mid-Plains wraps up

Empowering students to build more than structures

summer renovations on new Learning Commons

as springboard for artwork


10 Arkansas man uses MPCC 13 Custer County sheriff

named MPCC distinguished alum

connect with us!

15 Returning home through


19 We Remember - MPCC In CREDITS Editor JoAnn Lundgreen

Designer Jessica Epting

Story Contributors Brent Cobb Heather Johnson

Photo Contributors Brent Cobb Heather Johnson

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leads to profession Tiffany Hoaglund (‘11) doesn’t sleep much these days. She doesn’t have time. As a large animal veterinarian in a state where cattle outnumber residents nearly four-to-one, Hoaglund’s nights are filled with pulling calves, prolapses and C-sections. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tiffany Hoaglund takes a selfie with “Sal,” her nineyear-old steer that she bottle fed as a baby.

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“Despite the long hours, this is my favorite time of year,” Hoaglund said. “I love baby calves, and I really like working with ranchers. They are some of the best people in the world.” Hoaglund works for Ward Veterinary Services in Valentine, Nebraska. Caring for others is her dream come true. “When I was in high school, I toyed between becoming a vet and becoming a doctor,” Hoaglund said. “I grew up on a ranch at Brady, so loved working with cattle. I was also really interested in the sciences, so being a veterinarian was a great way to put them both together.” Mid-Plains Community College was her first choice after she graduated from Brady High

Science degree in 2011. Her credits transferred seamlessly to Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, which she attended for half the price thanks to academic scholarships. Hoaglund went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan in 2013 then entered the Nebraska/Iowa State Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine. She spent the first two years of the program taking classes at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and the last two at Iowa State University. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 2017. “After that, I knew I wanted to be back in a small town that was moderately close to home,” Hoaglund said. “Valentine is about the best place in the world for what I do.”


School in 2009. Not only were the class sizes similar to the ones she was used to, but her education was paid for with a volleyball scholarship. “I think living in Lincoln would have been a little stressful for me as an 18-year-old,” Hoaglund said. “I was a farm kid who liked to be able to go home on the weekends. MPCC eased me into the idea of being further away. Plus, I knew that I was going to school for eight years total. If I could get two of those years paid for – that was great.” Hoaglund got all of her prerequisites, chemistry and physics classes out of the way before leaving Mid-Plains with an Associate of

Valentine is located in Cherry County – the nation’s No. 1 beef cow county with nearly 166,000 cows. That’s more than enough to keep Hoaglund in business during calving season. “I’m really happy with where I ended up and with the start I had,” Hoaglund said. “I would recommend Mid-Plains to anyone. I think some people want to do all four years of college in one place, but now that I’m in debt from vet school, I’m very thankful I’m not in debt from undergrad, too. I wouldn’t have traded my time at MPCC for anything.”

Hoaglund floats a horse’s teeth during a lab in vet school.

Hoaglund holds on to a twin calf during calving season. Calving season is her favorite time of the year.

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EMPOWERING STUDENTS TO BUILD MORE THAN STRUCTURES He’s handed families the keys to their first home. He’s led mission work in Guatemala. But for Eric Schramm (‘09), nothing compares to the feeling of watching former students find success – and knowing he somehow played a part in it.


chramm is an architectural design and building construction instructor at Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, S.D.

He is originally from North Platte, which is where his love for the building trades developed and where he became inspired to pursue his current career path. “I had a very strong mentor at North Platte High School,” said Schramm. “Butch Lehmkuhler was my shop teacher, and he’s the one who really got me excited about the field I chose. He was a very positive person and never played into the stigma of a blue-collar worker. He looked at success as being happy as a person and doing what you want to do. My time with him was a huge turning point in my life. I decided I wanted to have an impact on people they way he had an impact on me.” Schramm graduated from NPHS in 2008 and subsequently enrolled in Mid-Plains Community College – just across town. He was familiar with MPCC because of the numerous dual credit classes he had taken through the college while still in high school and the SkillsUSA applied technology competitions he had participated in on campus. The scholarships he won through SkillsUSA, as well as others he earned to attend Mid-Plains, also had a huge impact on his decision to attend MPCC. “It just made sense,” Schramm said. “I originally wanted to go straight to a fouryear college or university for elementary education, but couldn’t fathom paying for school when I had scholarships to MPCC.” Instead, he set his sights on building construction.

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Eric Schramm’s students stand by a home they built for an impoverished family in Guatemala as part of a mission trip.

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“...I REALIZED MY REAL ROOTS WERE IN EDUCATION AND THAT I COULD COMBINE MY DREAM OF BEING A TEACHER WITH MY BUILDING CONSTRUCTION SKILLS AND TEACH FOR AN INDUSTRY THAT I TRULY DO LOVE.” “I like working with my hands,” Schramm said. “I enjoy starting with nothing and seeing an end product. I also like seeing the satisfaction of the people I’m building for.” Schramm was in MPCC’s building construction program the final year that a one-year option was offered. He graduated from Mid-Plains in 2009 then transferred to South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. to pursue a degree in construction management. “That lasted a semester until I realized my real roots were in education and that I could combine my dream of being a teacher with my building construction skills and teach for an industry that I truly do love,” Schramm said. “I could help other young adults find their passion in the trades.” Schramm graduated from SDSU in December of 2012 with a teaching degree in career and technical education. Two days later, he began teaching building construction at the McCrossan Boys Ranch in Sioux Falls, S.D. “McCrossan is a non-profit organization that helps about 70 troubled boys year-round,” Schramm said. “I worked with a lot of kids who had been in and out of the system and were really in need of a strong role model. It was definitely a different dynamic, but vital in helping me become the teacher I am today.”

Eric Schramm’s students attended the SkillsUSA national conference in Louisville, Ky. this past summer. They placed fourth in the competition.

They do a six-week internship in the summer and work with an industry partner, Morton Buildings, to create two 26 by 30-foot pole sheds. They are active in SkillsUSA, thanks in part to the fact that Schramm is South Dakota’s SkillsUSA board of directors president. Schramm’s students also make a point to give back. This year over spring break, he took nine of them and an alum to Guatemala where they spent a week building a home for an impoverished family as part of a mission project. The students had to raise $35,000 for the trip and materials, which they did by collaborating with the college’s foundation office and other departments.

By the time he left the ranch, two years later, Schramm was also teaching middle school math and science.

“The foundation office gave them some tips about asking for money, and the English department taught them the writing skills they needed to write letters to potential sponsors,” Schramm said. “The kids learned an enormous amount about themselves throughout the experience. We went to Central America to help a family, but the real growth happened in my students.”

His next challenge came in the form of restarting an architecture and construction program at Mitchell High School in Mitchell, S.D.

Schramm credits MPCC for a good educational basis and for providing him with an understanding of how to best influence individual students.

“I worked closely with the state to use grant money to equip a shop and get the program rolling again,” Schramm said. “I think any college instructor should experience the high school side of education to get a feel for why students act the way they do and to help them understand why students make certain decisions in picking a college.”

“Not all students are the same,” Schramm said. “I wasn’t the same as the kids down the aisle from me, but through that, I picked up on how I can be the best educator possible by being available to those students and explaining a technique in a variety of ways so that everyone can understand it and be successful.”

Once they are in college, Schramm believes it’s just as important for the students to learn the soft skills and business side of building construction as it is to master the technical skills.

Some of his students have gone on to become draftsmen and carpenters while others are on a fast-track to becoming superintendents running multi-million dollar jobs.

The students he teaches at Mitchell Technical Institute are responsible for drafting, building a house from start to finish using the drafted specifications, pouring a basement, creating a foundation, then moving the house onto the foundation and completing the finish work.

“I try not to pigeonhole my students into any particular area and instead play into their strengths,” Schramm said. “No matter what they choose to do, I want them to know they are the creators of their own paths and hold the keys to their own destinies. If they put in the hard work and effort, anything is attainable.”

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Dec 6-8, 2019 Child’s Christmas in Wales Production

Nov 8-10 & Nov 15-17, 2019 Into the Woods Production

Dec 2019 Winterfest Band & Choir Concert

Nov 19, 2019 Student Recital Dec 3, 2019 Winter Band & Choir Concert

F in d u p -to -date i n fo r m at i on on Fine A rts e vents at w w w. m p cc.e du

In a time when many young people are leaving rural areas in search of adventure and opportunity in urban settings – Chris Swasta (‘16) found success doing the opposite.

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Arkansas man uses MPCC as springboard for artwork

A native of North Little Rock, Ark., Swasta graduated from high school with a class of about 700 students. He grew up with a university practically in his backyard, but that wasn’t his first choice for college. Instead, he packed his belongings and moved almost 800 miles away to McCook, Nebraska, trading in the hustle and bustle that accompany bright city lights for a more peaceful setting – a land illuminated by a vast prairie sky, where the silence can be deafening. It was there that he found himself.

“I GOT TO LEARN MORE OF WHAT I WAS INTERESTED IN... I THINK THAT’S WHAT COLLEGE SHOULD BE ABOUT - INDIVIDUAL LEARNING. AFTER ALL, IT’S MY EDUCATION.” “I had no clue what to expect when I moved to Nebraska,” Swasta said. “But, I soon found that everyone was very welcoming and friendly.” His tie to McCook was his uncle, Clay Grizzle, who worked as a theater and speech instructor for MidPlains Community College. “He invited me to join him,” Swasta said. “I’m glad I did. I wanted to get away from home for a while, but even coming from a large high school, I think it would have been intimidating to go directly into an out-of-state university system.” Swasta wasn’t sure what he wanted to study initially, although he had tried art and theater in high school and liked them both. The turning point came his sophomore year when art instructor Rick Johnson introduced him to pottery.

Chris Swasta works as a professional artist in Little Rock, Ark. He fell in love with pottery while attending Mid-Plains Community College.

“That was it. I completely fell in love with it,” said Swasta. “Pottery speaks to me more than two-dimensional art. Just the feeling of the art constantly moving, changing and evolving in my hands – I love that.” Swasta graduated from MPCC with an Associate of Arts degree in 2016. He has since moved back to Arkansas and opened a studio in Little Rock, Rolling Hills Pottery. He sells his handmade, wheel-thrown vessels on Etsy and social media as well as at local festivals. “I would eventually like to be a professional artist and teach,” said Swasta. “There are an increasing number of community innovation hubs that are basically huge workshops with different rooms for different activities, such as 3-D printing,

woodworking and jewelry making. I’ve thought about teaching pottery someplace like that.” His plan until then is to keep practicing and go back to college for a bachelor’s degree. Swasta would like to major in pottery and minor in business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock – a venture he now feels prepared to embark on thanks to the experience he had at MPCC. “The art program at Mid-Plains was a great stepping stone for me,” Swasta said. “Because of the one-on-one time with the instructors, I got to learn more of what I was interested in and not what everyone else had to learn. I think that’s what college should be about - individual learning. After all, it’s my education.” Swasta’s pottery can be viewed at: shop/RollingHillsPottery. | 80 0 . 3 4 5. 3 6 0 0 | 1 1


FALL SEASON HOME GAMES MCC INDIANS MEN’S BASKETBALL 11.08.19 7:30 PM 11.09.19 4 PM 11.19.19 7:30 PM 11.22.19 7:30 PM WOMEN’S BASKETBALL 11.04.19 6 PM 11.08.19 5:30 PM 11.09.19 2 PM 11.22.19 5:30 PM 11.23.19 TBA

NPCC KNIGHTS Laramie County Community College Eastern Wyoming College Colby Community College Western Wyoming Community College Hastings College Junior Varsity Laramie County Community College Eastern Wyoming College Western Wyoming Community College MCC All-Stars

MEN’S BASKETBALL 11.08.19 7 PM 11.09.19 4 PM 11.13.19 TBD 11.23.19 3 PM 12.14.19 4 PM WOMEN’S BASKETBALL 11.01.19 7 PM 11.02.19 3 PM 11.05.19 5 PM 11.08.19 5 PM 11.09.19 2 PM 11.23.19 1 PM

Eastern Wyoming College Laramie County Community College Garden City Community College Western Wyoming Community College Cloud County Community College Little Priest Tribal College Air Force Prep York College JV Eastern Wyoming College Laramie County Community College Western Wyoming Community College

Find up-to-date game info at and


an Osmond was recognized in November of 2018 during the Nebraska Community College Association’s annual meeting in Norfolk. He was nominated for the award by MPCC President Ryan Purdy and members of MPCC’s cabinet. “Sheriff Osmond is a wonderful representative of Mid-Plains Community College. He grew up in the area, received his education in the area and now serves the area,” Purdy said. “The opportunity to help people and change lives draws him to his career. His service to the community extends well beyond his position as Custer County sheriff as demonstrated by the numerous awards he has received from his civic participation. Mid-Plains Community College couldn’t be more proud to have Dan Osmond as our distinguished alumni.” Osmond is a Dunning native. He studied criminal justice at MPCC from 1994-96 and has worked at the sheriff’s office in Broken Bow ever since. Criminal justice wasn’t in his original plans, however. He initially wanted to be a mechanic, but changed his mind after sitting in on patrols with a former sheriff in Blaine County. “When I first decided to go into law enforcement, it was because I thought it would be exciting to fight crime,” Osmond said. “Once I got into the field, I learned how much I could help people – how much I could change lives. It’s definitely the public service aspect that draws me to my career. A lot of times in this profession, we’re called into situations where we have to make something better or help someone out. There’s a lot of reward in that.” Mid-Plains was always Osmond’s first choice for college because it was close to home and his job and because his friends were there.

Cust er Co u nty She r i f f na m e d

MPCC DISTINGUISHED ALUM Custer County Sheriff Dan Osmond (‘96) has been honored with the 2018 Mid-Plains Community College Distinguished Alumni Award. The fact that he got a scholarship that paid all of his tuition made the decision that much easier. “I had a great experience at MPCC,” Osmond said. “I had very good instructors, and everything I was taught applied to my career. The campus and class sizes were not overwhelming, which I felt led to a better learning environment.” One instructor in particular stood out to him – Allen Settles. Settles taught criminal justice for the college, and is the reason Osmond claims he was so prepared for basic training at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island. “Allen shared his personal experiences and applied them to what we were learning in class,” Osmond said. “That really intrigued

me. It made the lessons easier to understand and remember.” Osmond received the Outstanding Performance Award at basic training – an accolade that remains his favorite to this day. “At the end of the training, the instructors and students vote on who should get that award,” Osmond said. “It’s based on overall performance throughout 12 weeks. That was a long 12 weeks, so to get recognized for how I did during that time made me really proud.” Osmond has gone on to receive numerous awards since that time, including the D.A.R.E. Officer Training – Best Performance, Excellence in Detention Facility Administration award from the Jail Standards board. He has also been honored as a Lion of the Year and with the Melvin

Gordon Fellowship Award from the Lions Club for his volunteerism within the chapter and the work he has done to boost membership as membership chair. Osmond received a certificate from the NACO Institute of Excellence for completing a weeklong program of professional development for county officials. Additionally, he serves as the president of the Nebraska Sheriffs’ Association, which provides continuing education for sheriffs across the state, serves as a reference for legal questions and a lobbying group representing the interests of law enforcement in the Legislature and keeps members up-to-date with new legislation and technological advances impacting law enforcement. www.mpcc.ed u | 80 0 . 3 4 5. 3 6 0 0 | 1 3

Make plans to give today. Leave a lasting legacy for tomorrow. The funds our alumni give today stay in our community and help us create a stronger tomorrow.

Contact: Bonnie Kruse, Area Director of Institutional Advancement at 308-535-3754 or, or visit

Returning home through HVACR Brett Harmon (‘10) is a realist. He’s known what he wanted to do with his life and where he wanted to be from a very young age, and he developed that goal based on what made sense. “I knew from day one that you’ve got to pick a career that will always be needed,” said Harmon. “It seems like there are a lot of professions out there that people want to pursue, but that there’s no demand for. I picked [heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration] because as long as there’s electricity, I will have a job.” Harmon is the maintenance supervisor for Chase County Community Hospital in Imperial. His responsibilities vary – from working on boilers and rooftop units to servicing split system air conditioners and managing contracts with service providers.

Brett Harmon went into heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration because he knew it would provide a steady income. The field has allowed him to return to his hometown of Imperial.

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with my hands, so that’s why HVACR appealed to me. It just seemed natural.” The Imperial native got his first glimpse at the world of HVACR while attending Chase County High School. “I always saw the school’s facility manager messing with the boiler and air conditioner,” Harmon said. “That caught my eye because I enjoyed fixing things. He said that if I went into HVACR, I could make pretty good money.” Harmon knew of two HVACR companies in Imperial that were advertising for technicians at the time, and he ultimately wanted to stay in the area because of the small-town atmosphere.

Troxell’s offered Harmon a full-time job as soon as he finished training at NPCC. He worked for the company for seven years – an experience that also allowed him to learn about appliances.

“NPCC was my first choice,” Harmon said. “It was close to home, so I could go back and work on the weekends. I also really liked the instructor, Rex Kemp. I met Rex when I toured the college, and that was the deciding factor for me. I just got along really well with him.” Once in the HVACR program, Harmon appreciated the one-on-one instruction, hands-on learning, state-of-the-art technology and the variation of brands of units available to practice on. He especially enjoyed an internship with Troxell’s Heating and Appliance in Imperial. “I interned for a full summer, and I’m so glad I did,” Harmon said. “I gained so much by applying what I had studied at the college to real-world situations. I had to learn to think on my own without being guided by an instructor.” 16 | w w w. m p cc . e du | 8 0 0 . 3 45. 36 00

of MPCC graduates rated the quality of instruction they received, good or very good. 10% said average.

He then spent a year doing maintenance at a nursing home before being recruited to his current position in September. “I enjoy the variety of my job now,” Harmon said. “I can use the training I went to school for and apply it to something different every day.” He credits NPCC, not only for putting him on the path to his current occupation, but also for broadening his skills across the board.

Average 10% 49% Very Good

41% Good

“I PICKED [HEATING, VENTILATION, AIR CONDITIONING AND REFRIGERATION] BECAUSE AS LONG AS THERE’S ELECTRICITY, I WILL HAVE A JOB.” So, by the time he graduated from high school in 2009, Harmon had made up his mind to enroll in the HVACR program at North Platte Community College.



“That’s the great thing about the HVACR program – you learn things, from reading schematics to soldering and running power tools, that open doors to other jobs not directly related to HVACR,” Harmon said. And, unlike some friends of his, Harmon didn’t walk away from college with a burdening amount of student debt. “The cost of the HVACR program in North Platte is not much at all, and you’re pretty much guaranteed work right away – anywhere in the country. Demand is super high,” Harmon said. “The fact that I could go to school for a year for less than $10,000 and get a job right away and have my schooling paid off was way better than going to school for four years, having incredible debt and not being able to get work anywhere. From small towns to big cities, there’s always a need for HVACR.”

Brett Harmon, of Imperial, checks the voltage on a domestic boiler at Chase County Community Hospital on Monday. Harmon graduated from the HVACR program at North Platte Community College.

We Remember “Mr. Mid-Plains” Tom Gorman April 7, 2019

Clay Grizzle Jr. February 5, 2019

Nels Clang May 7, 2019 James Steward April 14, 2019

“Mr. Mid-Plains,” Tom Gorman, 76, passed away April 7, 2019. He was hired in 1970 to teach typing, accounting and other business courses. Gorman was promoted to dean of continuing education in 1975. He retired from MPCC in 2011 after 41 years of service, but never really left. Gorman remained a constant source of positivity and inspiration at college events including ribbon cuttings, board meetings, fundraisers, golf tournaments and scholarship receptions. He also served as chairman of the North Platte Community College Foundation, an organization near and dear to his heart. Clay Grizzle Jr., 64, passed away Feb. 5, 2019. "The legacy of Clay Grizzle was that he truly cared about his students and their future,” said Kelly Rippen, McCook Community College vice president. “He had such a caring demeanor about him with his students and an outstanding commitment to education. His community involvement was phenomenal, and that evidence could be seen by the number of students, colleagues and community leaders who participated in the various memorial events held both on and off campus in his honor.” Nels Clang, 85, passed away May 7, 2019. Clang was hired in 1968 to teach heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte for 33 years. He also owned an HVAC business in North Platte for many years. James Steward, 81, passed away April 14, 2019. He taught English, Journalism and Philosophy for 35 years at McCook Community College. He retired in 2000. | 80 0 . 3 4 5. 3 6 0 0 | 1 7

Mid-Plains wraps up summer renovations on new

LEARNING COMMONS Bright open spaces, fresh paint and new carpet greeted students returning to Mid-Plains Community College this fall. MPCC conducted a series of renovations at its North Platte and McCook campuses over the summer – all with the intention of creating a better learning environment. In the process of updating the function of certain areas, the aesthetics were also improved, resulting in buildings that are more attractive and welcoming.

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Mid-Plains Community College board members and employees cut the ribbon on a new Learning Commons in North Platte on August 28, 2019.

The new Learning Commons at the von Riesen Library in various stages of construction.

LEARNING COMMONS IN NORTH PLATTE On the south side of the McDonald-Belton Building, the Learning Resource Center and Student Success Center were merged into a Learning Commons, providing a one-stop shop for all student services. A welcome desk was placed in the center of the room, directly across from the Learning Commons entrance, and the library, tutoring and other student service departments were built around it. New furniture was added to accommodate groups as well as individuals. That included two study rooms with enough seating for up to five students. Each room has its own TV for video conferencing. There are also individual study carrels, charging stations and more seating scattered throughout the Learning Commons. The colors are grey, lime green and bright blue – giving the area a contemporary feel. LEARNING COMMONS IN MCCOOK Crews were just as busy in McCook, where the von Riesen Library was closed all summer for a complete remodel. The project moved all student services to the first floor to make them easier to find. The changes will allow the college to jointly use staff from multiple departments to operate the facility. The library is still upstairs, but the book stacks and the children’s library moved downstairs. The children’s library also got its own semiprivate space in the basement to give it more room and gained a TV. The news and sports information office, as well as the piano lab, are still located on the lower level. They are now joined by two study rooms and seating for group workspaces. All student success offices, such as tutoring, were moved upstairs where there are two areas designated for taking tests. The first floor houses a memorabilia room that will be accessible to the public, a group study room, carrel desks and charging stations. “The look and feel is the same as the Learning Commons in North Platte,” Mike Steele, vice-president of adminstrative services, said. “The circulation desk serves as the hub. Students can stop there to get directions to the various services. They can also sit at a bar behind the circulation desk to study.”

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