By Jessie Reestman
After years of rolling a big truck down the highway to deliver seed to farmers, local resident Jolene “Jody” (Suhr) Koenig decided to step out from behind the wheel to become the “big wheel” as the new manager of the Elgin Community Center. Jolene shared that medical reasons ultimately led to her career change. Although she misses her trucking terribly, she enjoys her new position and the chance to meet new people and provide a good home-cooked meal.
Jolene is the daughter of Dennis and the late Marge Suhr. She attributes all her love and knowledge of cooking to her mother. “ Everyone knew my mother. She was a great cook at Kate’s Kitchen for years. That is where I get my love for cooking, and she taught me well.” She also shared that her manager position does not regularly place her in the kitchen. She explained, “ My duties as the manager include creating a menu, budgeting, managing home deliveries, wellness checks on those receiving home deliveries, planning activities, overseeing the cooking, and a fair amount of paperwork. To be honest, I was a little nervous about the paperwork, but I am learning.”
According to Jolene, the Center is currently averaging about thirty take-out meals a day and believes the menu selection and summer activities have had the most impact on daily numbers. As the new manager of the Center, she has made it a goal to continue to work to increase those numbers.
One way she hopes to reach that goal is to offer new menu items. “ I like variety. I want to send out a survey and find out what people like and people don’t like. I am not afraid for someone to call me and say something. If you don’t like it, please tell me. I can’t change it when I am not told.” A few new items she has already added to the menu are Swiss steak, Swedish meatballs, “Runza” casserole, B.L.T. wraps, shepherds pie, bacon cheeseburger deluxe, and creamed hamburger over toast…an old army favorite affectionately known as S.O.S.
Another way she hopes to increase numbers is through activity. Currently, due to COVID restrictions, all activities have been put on hold, but as soon as it is allowed, she hopes to host activities such as cards, various games, exercise, evening meals and even adult coloring.
As manager, she is eager to earn a reputation at the Center. In her words, “We want the reputation of offering good, home-cooked meals. We want to be recognized as a family environment where everyone is welcome. I highly encourage all to come and try the food. We appreciate meal orders to be placed by 9:30 a.m. the morning before the desired meal is served. Meals are $5 for individuals sixty and above and $7.50 for anyone age 59 on down.”
Just as Jolene Koenig encourages everyone to give the Elgin Community Center meals a try, she also hopes people will stop in and check out her personal side business bakery housed in the small, front corner room of the Center.
It is planned that the rustic themed bakery, created in honor of her mother…Marge, will soon be in operation. The Sandhills Bakery will open as soon as the sidewalk construction is completed. Although the days of operation have not been set, she plans to be open to the public at least two days a week.
The bakery will feature cupcakes, donuts, bars, rolls, cookies, turnovers, etc.
Anyone seeking more information about the bakery can search “The Sandhills Bakery” on Facebook or simply call (402) 649-5885.
Classrooms which have been largely silent since mid-March, will come to life again with the sounds of students as Elgin schools begin a new school year Thursday.
Elgin Public School, Pope John XXIII Central Catholic and St. Boniface Elementary schools will, for the first time in nearly five months, be buzzing with activity. Lockers will open and close, text books will be handed out again, lunch rooms will again serve nutritious meals and all will seem to be as it once was.
But, it won’t be the same. There will be one new school administrator and several new teachers.
Having been on the job since July 1, Michael Brockhaus will be busy as superintendent at Elgin Public. Coming to Elgin from Sidney where he served as a principal, this will be his first school year as a superintendent, replacing Dan Polk who served in that capacity for the past eight years.
New teachers at Elgin Public this fall are Brandon Callahan and Haley Guenther.
Callahan will teach social studies, filling the position previously held by Trey Rossman. Guenther will teach Spanish.
All visitors to EPS are required to wear a mask.
No students should arrive at the school before 7:45 a.m.
At Pope John, Christiana Koeppe will teach music, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Rachel Becker.
At St. Boniface Elementary, Taylor Borer will teach fifth grade, filling the position previously held by Scott Becker.
Then, there’s one other thing which will be in the back of everyone’s mind (parents, students and school personnel) — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each school has taken every precaution to keep adults and students safe as the new school year begins.
As is customary, the first day of school will not be a full day. Classes will dismiss at 1 p.m.
The first full day of class will be on Friday, August 14.
Whether one lives in town or outside of Elgin, all drivers should take extra precautions with intersections and crosswalks with the start of the school year.
By Jessie Reestman