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SPIRIT OF WAMEGO AWARD – Norman Hupe

The 2019 SPIRIT OF WAMEGO AWARD was awarded posthumously to Norman Hupe in recognition of his numerous contributions to the Wamego community and the long-lasting impacts of his actions.

When looking through Chamber and event pictures for the recipient of this year’s Spirit of Wamego award make sure you’re looking in the back row of group shots, and in the margins of the event photos.  That’s the most likely place you’ll find Norman Hupe.

Norman was the definition of servant leader.  Proud of his community and willing to take on any role needed, while never seeking recognition for his work or financial contributions.  But like the previous recipients of this award Charlie White, Rosemary Crilly, and Bill Ditto you cant write the story of this community without him.

Norman Hupe was a City Commissioner, and a two term Wamego Mayor.  Norman was a member of the Wamego Volunteer Fire Department, he served on the Zoning Board, he was committee chair for Troop 92 of the Boy Scouts.  He served as an Elder for the First Presbyterian Church.  He was a former Citizen of the Year.

From a Chamber of Commerce perspective Norman was a cornerstone of two of our largest annual events.  He was an essential member in the formative years of the Ag Night celebration and continued to contribute and volunteer to that event every year since.

And of course, Norman Hupe was a charter member of the Wamego Pyro Crew.  He was there from the first hand lit shells in the park to the spectacle now that brings 60k plus to our community.  That’s where I met Norman.  And that’s where he pushed me to the front of my first Pyro Crew photo so he could take his usual spot in the back row.

Norman was incredibly proud of his family, and rightfully so.  Perhaps the biggest contribution to Wamego was Norman and Jeanette creating a legacy of servant leadership in their own family that has continued to be modeled by their children and grandchildren.

Last February, the Hupe family suddenly lost Norman well before his time.  His loss was felt across the entire community.  The line at his visitation and attendance at his funeral was a testament to all those who’s lives were impacted by Norman, and how many of us were lucky enough to have met him and call him a friend.

Business owner, volunteer, philanthropist, servant, father, and friend.

Norman Hupe helped define Wamego Magic.  It is our privilege  to award the family of Norman Hupe the Spirit of Wamego Award.

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IMPACT AWARD – Wamego Health Center

Wamego Health Center was recognized with an IMPACT AWARD for the addition of the Walk-in Clinic and the recent $11M expansion and renovation project.

The presence of a hospital in Wamego for more than 100 years has been a significant asset to our community and the surrounding area. In 1915, a hospital opened in Dr. Simonton’s newly remodeled home on West 6th Street.  While it was much needed, it was intended to be temporary and in 1919 JT Genn promised to donate $10,000 towards the construction of a new hospital provided the community could match his donation.  The community succeeded in raising more than $11,000 resulting in the Genn Hospital being built a few blocks to the west in 1921.

By the early 1960’s, plans were in the works for a larger, more modern hospital. In May 1969, the new Wamego City Hospital was dedicated and opened on the current Wamego Health Center site.  The new hospital cost an estimated $500,000 with half of it coming from the Genn-Clary Endowment Fund.  The facility had approximately 60 employees and featured twenty-six beds and four bassinets.

Over the ensuing years, renovations to the facility and expansion of the services offered to the community have occurred. However, in the past few years we have seen the next great step forward at Wamego Health Center. In November 2016 the new Walk-In Clinic was opened. The clinic had an immediate impact on our community and in 2018 served 4,550 patients.

Early 2018 saw the doors open at Heritage House on the Wamego Health Center campus. Heritage House is an outpatient home healing environment for seniors in our community experiencing depression, loss or anxiety. It is the area’s only senior behavioral health service and serves not just Wamego, but the surrounding communities in our region.

Finally, in August 2018, the ribbon was cut on Wamego Health Center’s $11 Million expansion and renovation project. The project saw over 9,000 square feet of new space added and significant renovations to more than 14,000 square feet of existing space. Every department in the facility was impacted by the project.

Upon arrival at Wamego Health Center, visitors immediately notice the improvements and expansion of the main entrance, emergency entrance and the parking lot. Once inside, expanded and improved facilities include those for Laboratory Services, Emergency Services, Surgical Services, the Wamego Family Clinic and Walk-In Clinic, as well as Heartland Rehabilitation’s physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy services.

With this award, we recognize the progressive growth of Wamego Health Center and the vital role it plays in our community

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IMPACT AWARD – Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem

Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem were recognized for their leadership of the Indoor Pool Fundraising Committee.

While many small, rural Kansas communities are desperate for economic growth and positive evolution, Wamego has long led the way as a tightly‐woven community proud of its traditional and agricultural roots, while simultaneously and quite relentlessly eager to evolve as a progressive leader in community enhancement.

We value looking to the future and assessing what can be done to make life even better for those who live, work and play here. Toward that effort, some of our citizens banded together several years ago to identify amenities that our residents felt were lacking. It was this process that identified the need and desire for what seemed like a pipe‐dream at the time…a new aquatic center with an indoor pool facility. Over the course of several years, many people worked diligently through the process of turning that pipe‐dream into a real possibility.

While the initial phases of the project were slow and steady, the final stage came quickly and with a shockingly short timeline…this was the make‐it or break‐it stage for the indoor pool portion of the project. In order to erect the indoor pool facility alongside construction of the approved outdoor facility, the City Commissioners stated in the fall of 2017 that they would require a minimum of $250,000 in pledged donations from the community before giving the green light. On top of that, the pledges needed to be made by the end of that year! How could this possibly get done?

Enter Jan Eichman & Stacie Eichem who soon became the front faces of this new fundraising effort. Both were inexperienced in fundraising of this caliber but were determined. Quickly a committee was formed of equally inexperienced fundraisers. Committee members recall looking around at the first meeting and wondering how to accomplish their huge goal in such a short amount of time. But true to the personality and characteristics of the committee leaders, Jan and Stacie excitedly announced that they had already raised $75,000. Hello momentum!

Under Jan and Stacie’s leadership, the committee navigated six weeks of fundraising efforts to reach the commissioners’ goal and then some. Final pledges tallied over $300,000 and the project was approved for construction!

While both Jan and Stacie have served the Wamego Community in many capacities over the years, they have typically been in quieter and more under‐the‐radar roles. Here they truly displayed tremendous courage in taking on this time‐pressured challenge; making presentations, inspiring community members to support the project, and diligently pushing the committee to the finish line. Their leadership and hard work toward this accomplishment will leaves a long‐lasting positive on our community for years to come.

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Wamego CVB Wins TIAK Marketing Awards

Multiple Wamego Convention & Visitors Bureau projects won Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK) marketing awards at the 2018 TIAK Conference in October.

  • Celebrate Freedom in Wamego Website – 1st Place – Small Budget Online Media
  • Totos Around Town – 1st Place – Small Budget Community Awareness
  • Totos Around Town – People’s Choice Award (selected by conference attendees from all 57 state-wide marketing award entries)

The Celebrate Freedom in Wamego Website can be found at http://visitwamego.com/july4th. More information on the Totos Around Town project, including photos, maps and details about the artists, can be found at http://visitwamego.com/totos-around-town. Congratulations to all of the community partners who put significant time, energy and resources into making these projects successful!

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Wamego Businesses Join Classroom to Career Partnership

The 2018-2019 Classroom-to-Career Partnership program kicked off on September 13th at the Bank of the Flint Hills Hwy 24 location with over 60 teachers and business representatives in attendance. The program strengthens the relationship between local schools and the business community and gets students thinking about possible careers at an early age by engaging businesses with 4th grade classes in a partnership that runs the full school year. Each 4th grade class is sponsored by a business and regular interactions are facilitated both in and outside of the classroom.

“This partnership builds on the strong connections between the Wamego business community and our schools. We’re proud to add Classroom-to-Career to existing programs like Peer Chamber and Youth Entrepreneurs that provide great opportunities for students at many levels,” said Daryn Soldan, Executive Director of the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce. Jack Allston, Executive Director of the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation highlighted the workforce benefits of the partnership, by stating that “the program will have long-term work understanding benefits for the youth going through this partnership.” 

With the support and sponsorship of the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation and the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce, this year’s program has expanded to include the six 4th grade classes at West Elementary in Wamego and the 4th grade class at Westmoreland Elementary. Additional 4th grade classes taking part in the program include those in USD 383 – Manhattan, Flint Hills Christian School, and Manhattan Catholic School. Classroom-to-Career Partnership sponsoring businesses in Wamego and Westmoreland are Bank of the Flint Hills, Caterpillar, Kaw Valley State Bank, Riley Construction, Wamego Health Center, WTC, the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation.

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Wamego Health Center Ribbon Cutting

On August 24th, following more than one year of construction, Wamego Health Center officially cut the ribbon on their remodeled and expanded facility. Hospital and community leaders commented on the importance of this project to ensure the highest quality care for area residents both now and into the future.  More information about the Wamego Health Center and the Wamego Family Clinic can be found at https://wamegohealthcenter.org

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Chamber Hosts Teachers Breakfast

Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce Board members and staff hosted the annual Back-to-School Teachers Breakfast on Friday, August 10th at Wamego Middle School. Chamber President Jeff Wick expressed his gratitude to all USD 320 teachers and staff for everything that they do in the Wamego community and wished them a successful 2018-2019 school year.

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Governor Colyer Announces Infrastructure Projects

Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer held a press conference at Wamego’s Caterpillar facility on July 18th to announce improvements to be made to Kansas Hwy 99 between Wamego and I-70. These improvements will increase safety and facilitate transportation of materials and products by Wamego-area businesses. Governor Colyer also noted continued support of the Wamego Industrial Commerce Route project.

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Celebrate Freedom in Wamego on July 4th

Celebrate Freedom in Wamego is quickly approaching. Join us this 4th of July for a full day of family fun and celebrations. From the car show, to  the carnival, musical performances, the 147th Annual Independence Day Parade, and of course – FIREWORKS, there’s something for everyone in Wamego on the 4th! Your one-stop-shop for Celebrate Freedom in Wamego is VisitWamego.com. Find more information on schedules, places to eat, things to do and what to bring. We look forward to seeing you in Wamego on July 4th!

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Wamego Successfully Hosts The Wall That Heals

Warm temperatures did little to stop crowds from visiting The Wall That Heals in Wamego City Park on June 13-17. The traveling 3/4-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stopped in Wamego as part of it’s 38-city 2018 National Tour.

“We are proud to partner with Caterpillar to host the Wall in Wamego and honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam,” said Daryn Soldan, Executive Director of the Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce, “this has been an incredible opportunity to remember and educate our community on this impactful period in our history.”

Over 200 dedicated volunteers helped set-up, take-down and staff the wall 24-hours per day during it’s stay in Wamego. An Opening Ceremony was held on June 14th and speakers included Roger Donlon, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in Vietnam, as well as Tracey Mann, Kansas Lt. Governor. The Closing Ceremony on June 17th included remarks by retired Lt. General Michael Dodson and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran.

More information on The Wall That Heals and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund can be found at www.TheWallThatHeals.org. Additional event pictures, videos and media coverage is posted on the Wamego Chamber Facebook page.

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