Jan 14, 2020 12:01 PM

Four new members take seats on Hays USD 489 school board

Posted Jan 14, 2020 12:01 PM
From left: Lori Hertel, Tammy Wellbrock and Craig Pallister took their seats on the Hays USD school board on Monday. Board member Allen Park, not pictured, is also a new board member.
From left: Lori Hertel, Tammy Wellbrock and Craig Pallister took their seats on the Hays USD school board on Monday. Board member Allen Park, not pictured, is also a new board member.

By CRISTINA JANNEY

Hays Post

Four new board members took their seats on the Hays USD 489 school board on Monday night for the first work session of 2020.

Newly elected board members Allen Park, Craig Pallister, Lori Hertel and Tammy Wellbrock joined their first meeting as active board members.

They were sworn in by the county clerk earlier this month.

New board member Allen Park, center, receives help on the computer from board clerk Jess Reling.
New board member Allen Park, center, receives help on the computer from board clerk Jess Reling.

Allen Park is retired from USD 489. He spent 25 years as principal, including at Washington Elementary School before the school was closed.

Tammy Wellbrock is the former director of Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. She is now the owner of her own consulting business, Girl Twin Solutions. 

Craig Pallsiter retired two years ago from his position at Hays Middle School where he was principal  for 25 years.

Lori Hertel is a mental health counselor.

The four new members replace outgoing members Paul Adams, Luke Oborny, Greg Schwartz and Mandy Fox.

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Jan 14, 2020 12:01 PM
Lasich honored for leadership of Thanksgiving Dinner
Pastor Celeste Lasich was honored Jan. 8 by the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance for her service to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays Post

The Ellis County Ministerial Alliance honored Pastor Celeste Lasich of Hays First Presbyterian Church on Jan. 8 for her work organizing the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. 

Lasich said she didn't need a plaque. She works to organize the meal year round becuase of the joy it brings her.

Lasich said she is constantly thinking about the annual event, jotting down notes and brainstorming ideas. It's a big job — with the dinner severing 500 to 600 people annually.

Laura Allen with First Call for Help helps coordinates volunteers for the event. Lasich and Allen frequently run into each other at other events, meetings or at the grocery store, and the conversation inevitably always finds it way back to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

"It's a lot of hours, but you know when you do something that just gives you a lot of joy, the hours don't really matter as much," Lasich said.

Ellis County Ministerial Alliance President Mike Rose (Hays First United Methodist Church) presents a plaque to Celeste Lasich (Hays First Presbyterian Church). Other ECMA members present from left: Micah Sanderson (CrossPoint), Sabian Chaney (New Life Center), Linda Mills (First Call for Help) and Karen Harvester (HaysMed). Courtesy photo

Lasich, 59, and her husband moved to Hays in 2013, and dinner founder Pastor Kyle Ermoian of Celebration Community Church quickly recruited her for the Hays event.

"My husband and I have lived in four different states," she said. "We've been married for 30 years. Community Thanksgiving meals have always been part of our life and part of what we've done in every community we've been in.

"When I heard that Hays had one and the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance had one,  I was, 'I'll be there. What can I do to help?' "

Ermoian said he was very pleased Lasich, Linda Mills of First Call for help and others are still leading the meal since he helped organize the event more than 20 years ago.

"She is a caring person, who is committed to her congregation as well as to the community of Hays, particularly though to those people who are less fortunate," Ermoian said of Lasich. "She has a heart for those people who are in need."

Lasich said she appreciates the dinner for the many needs it fills.

"It is one of the only times and places in this community where all social strata, educational backgrounds, vocational backgrounds, neighborhoods, all gather in one place," she said.

Volunteers seat people as they come in, so it is likely diners will be set next to people they don't know.

"I am always struck and delighted by the conversations, by the connections people make as they are eating together, by the laughter, and the ways in which community is forged when we eat together — when we break bread together. There is something very special about that," Lasich said. 

People need the dinner for different reasons, she said. For some people, the diner is the one good meal they will have because of economic reasons. For others, it may not be feasible to cook a Thanksgiving meal because they are alone, because of work schedules, or because of age, health or disability.

"Maybe it's just two people at home or maybe the family has come back to Hays, but mom can't do the things she used to do. It's just too hard," Lasich said. "Yet the family is able to gather and share holiday memories. The holiday traditions continue, but perhaps in a different form and in a different place." 

 Lasich also lauded the volunteers. Seventy to 100 people give of their time each year, and it has become a family tradition for many of them.

Lasich said she was shocked to be honored, but wanted to make sure all of the other members of the leadership team and many volunteers were also acknowledged.

"There are a lot of other people who are a part of this as well. This is not by any means something that I do alone," she said. "I am so grateful for all the people who are a part of it."

People donate money and time, the Rose Garden prepares the meal, people donate canned goods to be given away in conjunction with the meal and people volunteer to organize and sort those donations.

 Lasich said she intends to continue volunteering with the dinner well into the future.

"I'm not stopping. I'm having too much fun," she said.