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Leader of BSDC leaving position

Beatrice State Developmental Center will be without a leader following an announcement that Megan Gumbel is leaving the position.

Gumbel began as deputy director of state-operated services and quality for Developmental Disabilities at BSDC in March 2016. Her last day will be Dec. 6.

She’s leaving the state-run center for the developmentally disabled to return to her home state of Indiana, where she’ll lead Giving Family Hope, a new organization where she’ll continue working with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

She said a former employee tipped her off about the position, and the move will take her closer to home.

“My decision to leave is purely based on convergence of when family needs meet career opportunities,” Gumbel said. “I was not looking whatsoever. My mom retired a year half ago. She hasn’t yet asked me to move home, but is at that age where parents are moving in with their children or children are moving to be close to them. It’s helpful for me to be near her.”

Before coming to Nebraska, Gumbel worked as the Northeast regional director overseeing Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio for Bethesda Lutheran Communities in Fort Wayne, Ind.

She was also the director of MDC Goldenrod, where, for three years, she had direct oversight of the Medicaid-based not-for-profit supporting adults and children with disabilities. She also held several positions in nine years at Indiana MENTOR, a leading home- and community-based human services provider.

Gumbel discussed BSDC’s three-year plan earlier this year at a required public hearing. She said providing respite services, short-term breaks for unpaid caregivers, was a key component of the plan, which called for enhancements to crisis intervention support and acute crisis stabilization, and accepting temporary residents.

Gumbel said contributing to the three-year plan for BSDC has been her greatest accomplishment.

“For us, the crisis piece of it was significant,” Gumbel said. “It was bringing back our crisis integration that is actually doing those temporary admissions for crisis stabilization. We also worked to create an environment, and it’s never going to be perfect, focusing on values and core competencies within the Department of Health and Human Services.”

The plan for BSDC also includes a cost analysis of the buildings and their current uses, evaluation of vacant buildings and demolition costs, a review of residents’ needs and conversations with families regarding their preferences.

DHHS intends to rehire the position, though no time frame of how long the process will take was available.

Corina Harrison will serve as the interim leader of BSDC. Harrison works on special projects within the division and was previously the clinic manager at BSDC.

BSDC currently has 107 permanent and three temporary residents, and a staff of around 450 workers.

Gumbel added she’s enjoyed the workers at BSDC, and hopes recent progress continues after her departure.

“I’ve had a tremendous time and gotten a great deal of support,” she said. “Beatrice has been unlike any community in its support of BSDC and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The staff is impeccable with dedication to the people that are supported. There’s a wonderful team out there.”

BPS director of business to resign

Coming on the heels of Superintendent Pat Nauroth’s resignation, another key figure in the Beatrice Public Schools administration is planning to leave.

On Monday night, the Beatrice Board of Education accepted the resignation of John Brazell, who has served as Beatrice Public Schools’ director of business affairs since 2010. Citing an upcoming restructuring in the district’s administration following Nauroth’s exit, Brazell said this seems like the right time to go.

With the Beatrice Board of Education beginning discussions on what the top level administration team should look like in advance of hiring a new superintendent, Brazell said his resignation should make things easier.

“It just kind of made sense, with them hiring a new superintendent,” he said. “This way, the board can maybe focus what they're looking for and what skills they're going to need.”

The school board is looking at four potential options for central office restructuring.

The first would mean leaving the positions—superintendent, director of finance and director of curriculum and instruction as they are. The second would be to select a superintendent with a strong finance background, reduce the director of finance position to more of a bookkeeping role and keep the director of curriculum and instruction.

Third, the board could pick a superintendent candidate with a background in curriculum and instruction, get rid of the director of curriculum and instruction position, change the director of finance to a business manager position and hire a full-time clerical support staff member to work with curriculum and instruction.

Lastly, they the board could find a superintendent with either a strong finance background or strong curriculum and instruction background and hire an assistant superintendent while reducing the positions of director of curriculum and director of finance, then bring on a full-time clerical support staff member.

Brazell said his current position doesn’t require the level of education that he has, which means during restructuring his position would be the first the board would consider replacing.

Brazell has a bachelor's degree in music education from Hastings College and two master's degrees from Kansas State University—one in curriculum and instruction and another in education administration. Brazell also has an educational specialist degree from Wayne State University.

He started his career in education as a music teacher and band director until the late 1980s when he began to suffer from hearing problems.

“As much as I wanted to stay in the band room, my hearing was too much of an issue,” he said. “Your ears ring at night and you can't sleep. I'd lost enough hearing that it was becoming difficult for me to tune instruments. I needed to do something different, as much as I enjoyed it and loved it.”

He wanted to stay in education, he said, so he moved into administration and worked as a principal before moving on to become superintendent of Freeman Public Schools until 2008. He then served as superintendent of Anita Public Schools in Iowa until he was hired as business manager at Beatrice Public Schools in 2010.

Brazell is not planning on retiring, but he hopes to find a job where he can work more directly with students, he said, either as a principal or superintendent.

Brazell, whose salary for the 2017-2018 school year is $110,565, will stay on as director of business affairs until his contract expires in June of 2018. 

Pursuit results in arrest

A Beatrice man was arrested after a high speed pursuit, with speeds reaching triple digits.

A deputy with the Gage County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a vehicle for speeding on U.S. Highway 136 between Southwest 75th and Southwest 103rd roads Friday morning.

The vehicle failed to stop for the deputy and a pursuit ensued westbound on Highway 136, with speeds reaching 100 mph, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.

A deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was able to locate the vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 136 with no headlights on. The deputy was able to stop the vehicle in Jefferson County on Highway 136 near 716th Road, approximately two miles into Jefferson County.

The driver of the vehicle, 27-year-old Kevin Brimmer of Beatrice, was immediately arrested and transported to the Gage County Detention Center.

Brimmer was arrested for driving under revocation, flight to avoid arrest, willful reckless driving and speeding.