H-BC board leadership sit for final meeting
At a regular H-BC school board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 27, Superintendent Todd Holthaus thanked Board Chair Gary Esselink and Vice Chair Ann Boeve for their years of dedication and service. Holthaus gave them each a plaque recognizing their service. Boeve and Esselink sat at their final meeting after serving the district for 16 years.

Longtime Hills-Beaver Creek board members Gary Esselink and Ann Boeve thanked their peers before ending 16-year careers as board members.

Esselink had served as board chair for the past six years and Boeve was vice-chair. During their time as leaders on the board, they oversaw the passing of the high school building bond and the recent operating referendum.

Both were also members when voters decided to renovate and add to the elementary school in Beaver Creek.

The board meeting on Thursday, Dec. 27, was their last and they each took time to reflect on their terms.

Board member Lois Leuthold said, “The public doesn’t know what we went through this past year and the role the two of you played in protecting the district — you took action when you needed to. Thanks for your leadership.”

Boeve was moved to tears as she expressed her feelings about missing the position.

“I loved it — I really did. I thank you all for allowing me to do this for so many years.”

She continued, “The best part is the community. I saw the passing of two building bonds and two operating referendums — that is a lot of Patriot pride.”

She ended her time with the board by saying good luck to Superintendent Todd Holthaus and said, “You will do great!”

Boeve served as chair of the building committee during the planning and construction of the high school in Hills.

Esselink used this final moments with the board to thank those who served with him, thank the students and reflect on the events of the past year.

Esselink explained he did not set out to be on a public board but was talked into it by some friends during a turbulent time in the district’s history. He quickly learned that the opportunity was an honor.

He noted the pleasure of serving alongside Al Harnack and Rolly Crawford.

“I appreciation Al for what he is — his passion for the community, school district and his job as a board member. I tried to bring that same passion with me.”

When speaking and thanking Crawford, he said, “His leadership will never be matched. He held everyone to a high standard — he would stand up for what he believed was best, yet would do so in a very professional way.”

He also thanked his fellow board members for sticking through what had been “… a tough year.”

“We were criticized for a lot of things — some justly and some not. You all hung in there and didn’t quit.”

He said he approached every situation of the past year as a father and a board member.

“We all remember what it is like to have kids in this school — we always wanted what was best for them.”

He touched on how difficult it has been to keep the district moving forward, touching on the circumstances that led to a surprise outside audit last January, a rejected request for a loan and a state recommendation to close the school’s doors.

“With the help of people at the state department and our bond agency, we were able to get a loan and make a loan payment before we defaulted,” Esseliink said.

He thanked both Interim Superintendent Herb Benz and Superintendent Todd Holthaus for playing a role in saving the district.

“The board and district will be forever indebted to Benz."

To Holthaus he said, “The school is in good hands. I appreciate the job you did.”

Finally he thanked his wife for all those nights he was gone and for tolerating an anniversary trip that summer that included many hours sitting in a legal office.

Esselink’s favorite part of serving as board chair and the one he says he will miss the most was handing out diplomas during the graduation service.

“You get to see the culmination of their hard work. It is truly what this job is about — the students and their success.”

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