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Sen. Ricketts’ Representative Tours Northeast

Sen. Ricketts’ Representative Tours Northeast

NORFOLK -- U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts believes in community colleges.

Trinity Chappelear of Omaha, constituent liaison for the former governor, said Ricketts believes community colleges are essential to help keep rural communities alive, but naturally had more contact with them when he was governor.

“He very much believed in the power of community colleges in workforce issues,” Chappelear said. “Those skilled laborers are so vital. We need them to keep our communities going and those are well-paying jobs. If your car quits, you need someone to keep it going.”

Chappelear spent much of a recent morning touring the Northeast campus. While she has been in her current position since last September, Chappelear previously worked as a senior policy adviser for Ricketts during his last four years as governor.

Ricketts is also aware of the vital role that community colleges play for students who start there, then transfer to four-year institutions, along with dual credit courses that enable high school students to earn college credits, she said.

Leah Barrett, Northeast president, said she appreciates Ricketts’ continued interest in Northeast and community colleges, going back to his service as governor. To his credit, he recognizes the importance of community colleges to support Nebraska workforce needs and rural vitality.

Chappelear also worked 10 years in the Nebraska Legislature outside of the governor’s office. She recalls the iHub – or innovation hub – being discussed for downtown Norfolk. 

“I remember that bill happening,” Chappelear said. “Now I get to actually see it coming to life today (during my tour).”

Chappelear is a product of community colleges, having started at Southeast Community College in Lincoln for a year.

“I’m a Nebraska girl. We (my husband and I) have lived in a few other places, but Nebraska is home,” she said.

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Northeast President Leah Barrett (center) visits with Trinity Chappelear (left), constituent liaison for U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, and Tracy Kruse (right), vice president of Development & External Affairs, at Union 73 on Monday, Feb. 26. (Northeast Community College)