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New instruments are music to their ears PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Holyoke fifth-grade parents are liking the sound of band participation fees — absolutely free — but director Greg Wakeman can’t guarantee they’ll like the honking, tooting and squeaking they’ll be hearing the next few months as students excitedly explore the sounds of their new instruments.

Jadon Frost, pictured above, holds on tight to his new instrument after celebrating the good news that he was assigned the baritone this year. At left, Wakeman checks out an instrument to Dylan Hielscher at the fifth-grade parent night Monday, Aug. 31.

The new instruments are part of an academic project facilitated by Re-1J Foundation Inc. that raised nearly $35,000 this summer. Wakeman demonstrated to parents how to care for the shiny new flutes, trumpets, saxophones and more as students will be using the instruments free of charge this year.  

—Enterprise photos

Holyoke Enterprise September 3, 2015

Holyoke gears up for Sept. 18 Pedal the Plains guests PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Friday, Sept. 18, Holyoke looks forward to hosting close to 1,000 bike riders and their family and friends who travel with them in the first of two overnight stops in the Sept. 18-20 Pedal the Plains Bicycle Tour in northeast Colorado.

Since Gov. John Hickenlooper and The Denver Post announced several months ago that Holyoke, Julesburg and Sterling would be the host communities for the fourth annual PTP tour, plans have been under way.

Community members should make special note that the fun activities planned at the Phillips County Fairgrounds Friday, Sept. 18, from 2-9 p.m. are for local residents to join in the fun with the bike riders and their accompanying friends.

The headquarters site for the Holyoke portion of the event will be the corner of South Reynolds Avenue and East Hale Street in the HHS student parking lot area. Bikers will check in there when they ride into town, starting as early as around 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.

The entertainment site will be south of the livestock buildings at the Phillips County Fairgrounds. Transportation will be provided to take bikers from the headquarters to the entertainment.


Bike parade to include students and PTP riders

Holyoke students are already talking about the event, as that Friday has been scheduled on the school calendar as the official Bike to School Day.

At 2 p.m. Sept. 18, elementary students will be dismissed for an assembly with a speaker from Project Recycle. A bike will be given away at that program.

A bike parade with K-12 students, as well as PTP bikers who have arrived in town at that point, will begin at 2:30 p.m., staggered in time slots with different age groups.

Community members are also invited to take part in the parade, which will be held from 2:30-3 p.m., starting near the school’s bus/car garage at the corner of Kellogg Street and Morlan Avenue.

The 1.5-mile bike loop for the parade starts as bikers head north on Morlan Avenue, then turn right on Emerson Street, then right on Worley Avenue and right on Johnson Street to return to the starting point.

HHS students will start the parade at 2:30 p.m., junior high at 2:40 p.m., grades 4-6 at 2:50 p.m. and grades K-3 at 3 p.m.


Adult volunteers needed

Sandra Rahe is serving as the headquarters coordinator and has appreciated the solid support from staff and students to fill the numerous volunteer slots that are needed.

However, she indicated she can still use some adult volunteers. In particular, people are needed from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, and from 5-8 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 19.

For more information on how to volunteer, contact Rahe at 970-520-9906 or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Holyoke Chamber of Commerce is the lead contact for the PTP promotion, with Chamber executive director Mary Tomky serving as the liaison between the community and PTP staff.

She emphasized the huge number of volunteers required for hosting this and is appreciative of all those who have stepped forward.

The county, school, city, businesses and individuals have been working diligently with PTP staff.

Volunteers are helping with meal planning and serving, snacks, entertainment, parking lot security, bicycle security, trash coordination, home stay hosts, water supply, transportation, camping arrangements, street closures and many more logistics that accompany such a phenomenal event.


Entertainment to include music, food and much more

PTP will be providing some of the entertainment for the activities at the fairgrounds in Holyoke Friday, Sept. 18, and Pam Haynes of Holyoke is coordinating local entertainment as well.

A specific schedule will be shared closer to the PTP event.

Haynes reported that Star 92.3 will be providing music in the beer garden early in the afternoon. Also on the afternoon schedule is a segment by Phillips County Players and some music by Joe Hall’s group.

A ranch rodeo in the arena is sure to be entertaining, and Haynes noted that there will also be a presentation by VFW Post No. 6482 and American Legion Post No. 90.

Other fun activities that PTP is bringing to town are corn hole and ladder ball competitions, a corn-shucking contest, Top Hogs entertainment featuring performing pigs, egg races, a limbo contest, a pie-eating contest, Big Wheel races, mascot races and the PTP check presentation.

Entertainment at the fairgrounds Friday evening will end with a Rapidgrass Quintet concert from 7:30-9 p.m.

Holyoke Lions Club and Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department will have meals for sale at the fairgrounds, as coordinated by Highline Electric staff.

Other vendors will be set up for food and drink as well.

Community members are encouraged to take part in this celebration of Colorado’s agricultural roots and the state’s frontier heritage on the Eastern Plains.

Holyoke Enterprise September 3, 2015

MMH board continues focus on improving community relations PDF Print E-mail
Written by Isaac Kreider   

Members of the East Phillips County Hospital District Board of s shared deep concerns at the Tuesday, Aug. 25, board meeting regarding the importance of rebuilding the relationship between community members of Holyoke and Melissa Memorial Hospital.

Citing the public outcry at the May board meeting in which several citizens vocalized various clinical concerns, nurse practitioner Deaun Carpenter stated that the issue has only snowballed over the past three months.

“It’s obvious we’ve taken a hit, and people are unhappy with us here,” Carpenter acknowledged. “They’re unhappy, and they’re going away. It’s going to take a lot of hard work on everybody’s part to get things back on track.”

Clinic director Sheila Robinson reviewed Sigma Med’s report on the hospital clinic. Robinson noted that the consulting organization’s Lean Six Sigma was utilized to increase MMH’s capacity to see more patients.

“We wanted to show improvement, and it’s working,” Robinson said. “Sigma Med helped get us started, but probably 90 percent was us, our team.”

The clinic’s capacity has improved as the daily average has increased from about 10 patients per day per provider to upwards of 14. And the lag of getting a patient on the schedule for a visit has been reduced from six days down to one.

However, MMH hasn’t necessarily seen an increase in visits, according to Jim Murphy, interim hospital administrator, as he said, “We have got to analyze what’s going on.”

Board member Mike Woodhead was adamant about MMH needing to put patients first and developing trusting relationships between patients and staff.

“All areas are service,” Woodhead said. “It’s the whole picture. We’re the same as a restaurant, and it’s a reputation we’ve got to build back up.”

Murphy echoed Woodhead’s statement, saying, “The best marketing in health care is word of mouth. When it’s a positive experience, patients are going to tell others about it, and the same when it’s negative.”

Murphy also pointed out that rural communities statewide, not just in Holyoke, are losing patients to hospitals in bigger cities. Many are believed to be shopping for best prices on out-patient procedures.

“The patient is the customer, and that’s who we need to please,” said board member Gary Rahe. “I think we’ve maybe lost sight of that, and we need to do things differently in this community.”

The question of “What are goals we can set to improve relationships and efficiencies?” was asked by interim chief financial officer Jason McCormick.

This thorough discussion followed board conversation about whether or not to include spouses and children on employee insurance policies. The matter of insurance coverage is to be discussed further at a future meeting.

Noting that Carpenter had also mentioned the hospital has been short-handed lately due to continual turnover of employees, board members Woodhead and Sheila Gift posed the possibility that the board might need to look into increasing the salary base or really consider additions to the insurance policy.

“Our salary pay might be right in line, but the cost to keep employees here might need consideration,” Woodhead said, declaring that it’s not necessarily cheap to live in Holyoke. “When adding on out here, if we can’t staff this facility, it’s just going to be a building. Everyone likes progress, but no one wants to change.”

Being in agreement that more thorough discussion and action is needed, the board expects to continue on this topic in the near future as well.


CEO search continues

Board president Steve Young announced that members of a CEO search committee recently conducted a conference call with representatives from B.E. Smith, the health care executive search firm with which MMH has partnered to find a replacement for former hospital administrator and CEO John Ayoub.

Young described that the call allowed B.E. Smith to get a general feel of the operations and what’s going on at MMH. He said the firm will soon be getting information from Human Resources Director Sharon Greenman concerning job description details.

The board expects to have representatives from B.E. Smith come to Holyoke sometime between Sept. 15-17. These representatives plan to meet with board members, other hospital staff, community leaders, etc. to develop a better working relationship and to understand the needs of the community and direction of the hospital.


Facility plan is in financing stage

Progress on the facility expansion and remodeling plan is still in the financing stage and is progressing, albeit slowly.

McCormick said the ability to move forward with financing has been hinging on two points. The first is finalizing a request from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to make additions to the current facility structure. The second is to show that MMH has been in compliance on various financial measures.

McCormick also said the Neenan Company, which will be handling the construction side of the project, has been having difficulties finding suitable costs on sheetrock and foundation materials.

“Things are progressing, but it’s going to take a few weeks since things are still not approved,” McCormick noted. “It’s not necessarily a full delay. It just takes time. With changes in weather approaching, it’s kind of discouraging, but we will still keep pushing.”

Carpenter expressed concern that, though the expansion plans call for more clinic rooms, the plans don’t reflect additional restrooms.

“We might want to reconsider that because the current setup is already somewhat difficult,” Carpenter said. “When looking at the schematic, maybe it’s there and I’m not seeing it.”

Murphy said the plans had been given to all of the providers for review, but he would certainly be open to meeting with Carpenter and whoever else to discuss these and other concerns.


MMH has strong revenue month

McCormick noted that the hospital recently experienced a “strong revenue month” resulting in a positive bottom line.

Budgeted net income for the month was $45,000, and actual net income amounted to $86,000.


Other business

In other business Aug. 25, the board:

—heard a quality committee report as presented by nursing director Pat Notter.

—agreed to pay an invoice for $20,000 in retainer services through Red Capital.

—held a one-hour executive session at the end of the meeting for discussion of two contract negotiations.

Holyoke Enterprise September 3, 2015