Northeast honors alumni for career achievement; distinguished service

by jamesc  10/28/2016 5:27:48 PM -- 

NORFOLK - Northeast Community College has honored five individuals for career success and achievement following graduation from the institution, as well as for distinguished service to the College.

Major Wendi Sazama, originally from Bloomfield, Jeffrey Temme, Petersburg, and Shane Weidner, Madison, were inducted into Northeast’s Hall of Success during a reception and ceremony recently at the Lifelong Learning Center on the Norfolk campus. The Hall of Success is awarded to individuals for achieving significant professional success, exhibiting exemplary citizenship qualities or making significant contributions to their communities and/or community affairs.

Also at the ceremony, retired member of the Northeast Board of Governors and current member of the Northeast Foundation Board of Directors, Larry Poessnecker, Atkinson, was presented with the Northeast Community College Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated active service to higher education and who have played a significant role in the development of Northeast Community College.

Awards were presented by Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast, and Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs.

Sazama is a 2003 graduate of Northeast Community College. After earning a paralegal studies certificate from Northeast, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Wayne State College, a Master of Business Administration and Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota, a Master of Law in military law with an international and operational law specialty at The Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal School and Center.

Sazama is presently stationed at Eskan Village, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where she serves as the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) of the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM). USMTM trains, advises and assists the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense through security cooperation efforts in developing and sustaining capable deterrent and self-defense forces. In her role as SJA, Sazama serves as the legal advisor to the Chief of USMTM, a two-star Army General, and ensures compliance with all facets of the joint U.S. Security Assistance mission in Saudi Arabia.

In his nomination letter, Joseph Skrivan, publisher of the Bloomfield Monitor newspaper, said he has known Sazama for most of her life. “It is a great honor for Wendi to be able to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court, something that took hard work on her part. She has accomplished so much after losing her parents, including helping her younger sister and family while still pursuing her career. To attain what she has accomplished coming from a small town is a testimony in its own."

Speaking from Saudi Arabia via a pre-recorded video at the ceremony, Sazama said that as a result of earning her paralegal studies certificate at Northeast, she was able to obtain a job as an independent legal researcher. 

“The foundational courses that the paralegal certificate program provided me are those that took me from one part of my education to another, and served as a stepping stone to progress down the road that I’m currently at today.”

Sazama’s sister, Brooke, accepted the award at the ceremony on her behalf.

Temme graduated from Northeast Community College, then Northeast Nebraska Technical Community College, in 1974 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He began his career as a teacher and coach, serving for a combined nine years at Campbell and St. Edward public schools. He then worked for over 20 years as a sales associate for Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

Since 1980, Temme has been self-employed in agri-business and currently serves as a sales associate with Century 21 Real Estate Professionals in Norfolk. He is also a past participant in the Nebraska LEAD program - a program founded 35 years ago to develop agricultural leaders from Nebraska’s future generations.

In 2007, Temme organized the first Petersburg “Punkin Chunkin” Celebration, which went on to win Outstanding Event for a small community honors at the Nebraska Travel Industry awards. The event is now in its ninth year.

A longtime member of the Nebraska Auctioneers Association and the National Auctioneers Association, Temme has used his talent as an auctioneer and master of ceremonies at many charity and community events. He also sings and plays guitar at funerals, weddings and nursing homes throughout northeast Nebraska.

Additionally, Temme has served on a wind farm coalition that led to the Nebraska Public Power Purchase Agreement that brought 98 wind turbines to the Petersburg area.

In his nomination letter, J. Paul McIntosh, who served on the College’s Board of Governors for 20 years and is currently a member of the Northeast Community College Foundation Board, said Temme’s contributions have been diverse and impactful.

“Jeff Temme’s resume is a microcosm of the broad spectrum of interests and activities in which he continues to be involved. Using his natural ‘sales’ ability and taking advantage of many special classes at (Northeast), Mr. Temme has been a leader in 4-H, athletics, numerous civic, church and community events, entertainment and other volunteer work, as well as leadership roles in his various professions, notably auctioneering and wind generation,” McIntosh said. “Jeff has consistently demonstrated his enthusiasm, energy and commitment to enhance and improve the many groups and organizations of which he is a part.”

In accepting his Hall of Success recognition, Temme said that when he first came to Northeast, he was “a farm kid not knowing what to do.”

“I was immediately treated like a student, and I knew that I was at the right place. The hours transferred, it was affordable, and I was on my way. Forty-five years later, I’m here, and I’m so honored and humbled to receive this award.”

Temme credited his family’s support with his success, including his mother, Joyce, who passed away earlier this year. “We didn’t have a whole bunch, but she said, ‘When you go out, make sure your clothes are clean, even if they’re patched, and get your studies.’”

He also gave special credit to his brother, James, a professor of radiology at University of Nebraska Medical Center and Vietnam veteran who was the first in the Temme family to graduate college.

Temme and his wife, Jan, have one son, Jared, and his wife, Leslee, as well as three daughters, Joelle Feeney and her husband, Jimmy, of Petersburg, Jenna Temme, of Chicago, and Julia Temme, of Omaha, and six grandchildren.

Weidner graduated from Northeast Community College in 2001 with an associate of arts degree in criminal justice with a law enforcement emphasis. He has also earned degrees through Southeast Community College and Bellevue University.

He began his career in the United States Army as an infantryman, serving stateside and overseas. After his military service, Weidner became a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the City of Norfolk.

Taking advantage of the many opportunities at Northeast Community College, Weidner studied to become a paramedic and hazardous materials technician. He progressed through the ranks of the Norfolk Fire Division, holding the positions of rescue supervisor, shift commander and fire chief, until receiving his current appointment of city administrator.

While in the Fire Division, Weidner served as incident commander during a large propane fire in December 2009, as well as for a search and rescue during the June 2010 railroad collapse caused by flooding of the Elkhorn River. He was also the key official in management of the public safety operation during the flood. 

As city administrator, Weidner supervises approximately 250 employees of the City of Norfolk. He interacts daily with community leaders and elected officials to improve Norfolk and was instrumental in the large recreation project funded by the $16.4 million bond issue that resulted in the city’s new aquatic facility and renovation of baseball and football fields at Veterans Memorial Park as well as construction of new baseball fields at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park.

In his nomination letter, Norfolk Fire Chief Scott Cordes said Weidner is a natural leader.

“Shane’s rapid movement through the ranks of the fire department was directly related to his commitment to education and his ability to lead. That transformation into the overall city leadership role as our city administrator simply fit. He was destined to lead from the front,” he said. “Shane has openly proclaimed, supported and promoted life-long education and the value of it. That was clearly demonstrated at Northeast Community College in his pursuit of his paramedic training as well as his criminal justice course work.”

Mayor Sue Fuchtman also spoke of Weidner’s commitment to the Norfolk community in her nomination letter.

“He has earned a reputation as a hard-working individual who strives to excel. I believe whatever opportunity it may be for the future of Shane, and there will be many, I know Norfolk will always hold his heart.”

“Northeast has been a tremendous opportunity in my life in many ways,” said Weidner. “I was always so humbled by the instructors and their attention to detail, but more importantly, their attention to me as a student.”

“(Northeast) is there for each and every one of us in a variety of ways. You can pursue any dream that you want to pursue, starting right here at this school. As city administrator, I’m in a humbled position to see the jewel this school is to our community.”

Weidner and his wife, Jill, have two children, daughter Jenna and her husband, Jared, and their son, Samson, and Weidner and Jill’s son, Koal.

Also at the ceremony, Chipps presented the Northeast Community College Distinguished Service Award to Poessnecker. A successful agriculture producer, Poessnecker was inducted into the Northeast Alumni Hall of Success in 1994 and was honored with Northeast’s Distinguished Alumni Award a year later. He retired from the Board of Governors earlier this year, then became a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.

Poessnecker served on the Northeast Board of Governors, representing District II of Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Boyd, Holt, and Knox counties in their entirety and a portion of Cedar County since 1989 until his retirement this year.  He chaired every board committee and served as board chairperson in 1994, 2001 and 2010. He was board vice-chairperson in 1993, 2000 and 2009.

Poessnecker also attended the American Association of Community College Trustees and American Association of Community Colleges meetings in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Northeast for many years. He was an active leader who worked to advocate and raise funds for the completion of Northeast’s new $3.5 million Extended Campus facility in O’Neill.

A graduate of Norfolk Junior College with an associate’s degree, Poessnecker also has a Bachelor of Science degree from Peru State College and a Master’s degree in educational psychology from Kearney State College. He is a former public school teacher, counselor, elementary school principal and Northeast Community College adult education coordinator.

In his nomination letter, Board of Governors member Steve Anderson emphasized Poessnecker’s commitment to Northeast and its students.

“I served on the Board of Governors at Northeast Community College with Larry Poessnecker for approximately 20 years. He always put the students and College first in his decision making process. As a distinguished alumnus of Northeast, Larry is an example of the success that a community college student can attain.”

Longtime Board of Governors member, Dr. Donald Oelsligle, in his nomination letter, commended Poessnecker for his optimistic attitude.

“Larry’s contagious, positive personality at all of the meetings that I have attended with him has been a definite asset in our decision making process that has consistently arrived at a consensus. He has participated and provided leadership to at least two presidential changes at the College. These are what I consider to be the most important services for the community college.”

At the ceremony, Poessnecker praised Northeast’s impressive campus.

“The reason it’s impressive is because it attracts wonderful students, and you have to have an impressive college to attract wonderful students. This is a place to really be proud of,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences for anything.”

Poessnecker and his wife, Lois, have two children, Jeremiah and Lisa Krysl, of O’Neill, and Jeff and Jennifer Poessnecker of Atkinson, as well as five grandchildren.

John W. Sehi, a certified public accountant from Norfolk, was also in attendance to be recognized locally for a Distinguished Alumni award he will receive in November from the Nebraska Community College Association.

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PHOTO ID: (from left) Shane Weidner, Brooke Sazama, Jeffrey Temme, John Sehi and Larry Poessnecker.

Posted In -- Board of Governors, Honors, Norfolk, O'Neill, President, Press Releases, South Sioux City, Special Events, Students and Alumni, West Point

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