This blog is sponsored by the Village of Exeter and it is for all the past, present and future residents of Exeter. It is a place to comment on the happenings of Exeter and your place to inform the community

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New War Memorial Dedicated in Exeter

Above– A new war memorial in downtown Exeter was dedicated on Memorial Day.  Father Steve Thomlison spoke at the dedication and the Exeter Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts carried the flags. From left are Joey Bartu, Devin Harrison, Mikey Bartu, Father Thomlison, Tyler Due, Troy Kallhoff and Ronnie Babula
Below – The Exeter Q125 History Book Committee used their extra funds from the sale of the history books to purchase the war memorial that was placed on Exeter Avenue.  Pictured at the Memorial Day ceremony are from the left Faye Neeman, Terri Volkmer, Brian Moor, Brian Murphy and Agnes Anderson.  Not pictured are Shirley Janes, Jim Votipka, Jerreta Tauriella, Lonnie Shafer, Patty DeMoss and Doug Anderson.

A new war memorial was dedicated in downtown Exeter on Monday, May 25th

The stone was presented to the community by the Exeter Q125 History Book Committee. After the majority of the history books were sold, the committee had remaining funds and “our goal was to do something that would be long term and be something that generations to come would see,” explained committee member Brian Murphy.

Murphy approached the Exeter Village Board in November requesting the board approve the memorial and a location downtown near the historical marker.

After the go ahead was given the committee order the stone based on similar displays they had observed in other communities.  Their plan was to dedicate the memorial appropriately, on Memorial Day.

The first Exeter history book on the anniversary of the centennial had also been profitable and the funds left over had been used to pay for the historical marker in downtown Exeter.
This memorial is unique because it honors all of the branches of the military. The front of the stone is engraved with “Veterans Memorial.  To honor the brave men and women of the Exeter area who honorably served their country in war and in peace.” 

The back of the memorial shows the symbols of the six branches of service and notes that the stone was dedicated Memorial Day 2015 by the Exeter Q125 History Book Committee.

The committee held a dedication downtown at the stone just after the Memorial Day program at the cemetery in Exeter.  The Exeter Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts led the flag ceremony and Father Steve Thomlison gave a brief dedication.

The Exeter Q125 History Book Committee members were Brian Murphy (Chairman), Jim Votipka, Terri Volkmer, Brian Moor, Jeretta Tauriealla, Shirley Janes, Faye Neemann, Lonnie Shafer, Agnes Anderson, Patty DeMoss and Doug Anderson.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Exeter Memorial Day Program

The American Legion Color Guard from the left are Brian Moor, Jack Underwood, John Becker, Gary Dumpert, Butch Jansen, Mark Beethe, Ray Franzen and Bob Becker.

Above- The Exeter-Milligan Band played “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America” and “A Salute to Freedom.”  Below - Trystan Brandt plays "Taps."

Despite rain forecasted for the entire Memorial Day weekend, Monday morning dawned bright and beautiful. The Exeter Cemetery was resplendent with the avenue of flags flying and memorial blossoms.  

The American Legion Post 218 color guard opened the ceremony and posted the colors.  The Exeter-Milligan band played “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Master of Ceremonies and the main speaker was Legion member Tim Wilbeck who served in Vietnam.  Wilbeck introduced Father Steve Thomlison, who gave the invocation. Thomlison serves as a chaplain in the military.

Recent Exeter-Milligan graduate Amber Pribyl read the Gettysburg address and her classmate Madison Horne read “In Flanders Field.”

The Exeter-Milligan band also played “America” and “A Salute to Freedom.”  Wilbeck gave the address speaking about the many sacrifices that service members have made to keep our country free.

He spoke about Dale M. Hansen a 19 year old from Wisner, Nebraska who served during World War II and “fought like a giant” at Okinawa against the Japanese.  Hansen “proceeded to destroy a strong mortar position and annihilated many enemy soldiers. . .His parents later received his medal of honor was as he was killed by a Japanese sniper four days after his amazing display of combat valor.  Private Hansen like so many other defenders of freedom is forever young.”

He spoke of the heroism of Hansen and another young life lost too early, Brittany Gordon who was killed by a suicide bomb in Afghanistan.

Wilbeck shared these stories to remind the audience that Memorial Day is to honor, “Real people with real families.  We can best honor their sacrifice by remember their family who have lost so much long after the battles are done and the bombs have stopped exploding.  The children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent, the spouses will be missing life partners, parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters who died way to early.  We need to cater to them not just as members of their family but as American citizens. No one can replace these fallen heroes especially in the eyes of their family. We can offer shoulders to cry on, assistance with educational expenses and assurances that their loved ones sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

He emphasized “Americans must remember that freedom isn’t free.”

Wilbeck spoke of the history of Memorial Day and its eventual establishment by Federal Law in 1957,”As the unofficial start of summer let us never lose focus of what Memorial day means.  It’s not about the beaches, picnics, auto races or my favorite the memorial day sale. Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough.”

Wilbeck also reminded the audience a debt is also owed to our disabled American Veterans who also gave so much.

After the 21 gun salute "Taps" was played by Trystan Brandt and "Taps Echo" was played by Amber Pribyl.  The color guard was dismissed and the crowd was invited to attend a dedication of the new memorial stone downtown and enjoy rolls and coffee at the Legion.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Exeter-Milligan School Board Debates Senior Trip

The Exeter Milligan School board met on Thursday, May 14, 2015 with a large audience of students present.  After President Sharon Kuska welcomed the visitors the treasurers’ report was read and approved and the minutes of the April meeting were approved as part of the consensus agenda.

President Kuska moved the old business agenda item to the forefront to discuss the senior trip.
Superintendent Paul Sheffield shared the research the board had asked him to complete regarding the senior trips any area schools take..  He found that six of them do take a senior trip, “The only ones that go out of state for a few days are Sandy Creek and Bruning-Davenport  and they go skiing every year.”

The board held an intense discussion on the pros and cons of the senior trip. Board member Jim Zeleny spoke up, “I think that’s a great idea.  The only reason I wouldn’t want to vote on doing this is because I hate to decide this for every class.  I would hope to give the students a chance to vote on what they want to do.”

“I think it’s a great trip and every time I have gone the kids have been respectful and have had a great time,” explained Board Member Tim Pribyl.

Board member Kendra Jansky agreed, “I think there are a lot of positives.”

Board Secretary Annette Gloystein wasn’t in support of the extended trip, “I had two (children) go on a multiple day trip and two (children) go on a one day trip and they all had a great time.”

Zeleny emphasized the importance of the extended trip, “It gives the kids some time to be together and bond.  It’s what they talk about when they come back for alumni.”

Audience member Liz Zeleny gave some input, “I think these kids have worked a long time to do something together and to not get to go would be so disappointing.”

Board member Zeleny noted “Something that was brought up at the last meeting I thought was a very good comment.  If we are going to go from the angle of not letting them go more than one day then we are going to have to crack down on everything else like FCCLA trips.”

There was a discussion on the difference between the entertainment nature of the senior trip versus the academic and activity nature of trips like the FCCLA trip.

“I am not knocking anyone, I am just worried about the schools liability.  Even if it’s fun I have concerns about the liability of the school,”  explained  Kuska. “We have to build this back up so that they respect that they have signed a commitment and they have promised that their word becomes good again.”

Sheffield noted he had talked to the school lawyer who confirmed the school is liable for the students when they are on a trip like the senior trip.

The board discussed one of the concerns with cancelling the senior trip, what to do with the money that each class has raised.  Board member Adam Erdakmp stated, “Let’s worry about the money later – we need to decide what we are going to do before we talk about money.”

The board decided to bring the issue to a vote and Zeleny made a motion to keep the senior trip.  He noted that they would need to take a relook at the guidelines if they do continue the trip.  Board member Tim Pribyl seconded the motion.

President Kuska opened the floor for discussion.

Erdkamp spoke, “I don’t have a problem with the trip but I think the punishment should be more severe.  I have no problem with the sponsors we have had on the trip but if a kid wants to do something they will find a way.  I am fine with it continuing.  I don’t think it matters where they go as it is a school sanctioned trip.”

Sheffield reminded the board that the school has a say in how long the trip will be and how much money is available, “We will restrict where they can go and we will have more sponsors.” 
Zeleny voiced his opinion on the punishments, “I think the handbook needs to clearly state what will happen if students are caught violating the behavior agreement.”

The board called the motion to a vote with Erdkamp, Pribyl, Zeleny and Jansky voting yes to keep the senior trip and Gloystein and Kuska voting no.

Sheffield stated that he would have some policy  changes for the board to review  at the next meeting. The board moved on to a building project update. Sheffield reported on the fire marshals visit prompted by the project.  “The fire marshal walked into the kitchen and reviewed the paperwork on the kitchen hood and required us to put in a new hood.”

In addition, the elementary area will have to have sprinklers added along with the office area but the high school will not because it has a higher fire rating to begin with and it was also taken into account the future construction plans to replace the high school.

Sheffield noted that they have added a small room to handle all of the water and the gas services into the entire building. 
In the curricular report the board discussed a recent

Strategic School Improvement Process (SSIP) external visit.  This five member group was comprised of administrators and academic specialists from schools that are around the same size as Exeter-Milligan.   One recommendation from the SSIP visit was to incorporate the writing curriculum for all grades K-12.

Board member Gloystein was present for the exit interview with the group. “They were very very impressed with our technology.  Some of the things they wanted us to implement K-12 had to do with our reading program.  We do the technology part for our students’ future.  If they are not up on technology they will be way behind in life.”

Sheffield remarked, “In the elementary grades they spend about 2 ½ hours in reading and when they get to seventh grade they go down to about 47 minutes.  We are looking at adding an additional period of language and reading in seventh grade and adding writing in the eighth grade. These were things we knew but sometimes it’s good to hear it from someone else.”

Sheffield explained that due to the updated technology that Exeter-Milligan employs they were not able to do the Measurement of Academic Progress testing this fall because the testing software hadn’t been updated enough. They were able to do the testing this spring and hope to do it spring and fall next year to be able to see weaknesses and address them.

Next on the agenda was a discussion on non-certified contracts.  Sheffield informed the board that they would need to hire a new cleaning person as Colleen Foote had tendered her resignation.

The Board approved the 2015-16 SE NE Regional Program contract for students with hearing loss and also approved the contract for Valerie Barnhart a Language Arts teacher who will also be working with the Speech Team and One Act.

The next  agenda item was a resolution for participating in all hazards mitigation planning update process.  Sheffield explained this was important to have, “just in case you ever want to use FEMA funds.  We would have to be a part of this process in order to get funding.  It helps you have a plan in place when things happen like the tornado that went through Cordova and Beaver Crossing last year.”

The board approved the resolution and then discussed raising the substitute teacher pay.  The board voted to increase the pay to $120 per day and $65 for a half day.

The board also voted to amend the JPA budget because they had not scheduled any payments when the plan was made as they were not sure that a project would happen this year.  Not that the project is in place and a payment is scheduled, the budget must be amended.

The board set the next meeting for Monday, June 15 at  8 p.m. in Milligan.