November 21, 2005

Interpreting faculty aid deaf in Louisiana after Katrina

Two Columbus State faculty and two local interpreters joined forces September 12, just days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, to help deaf evacuees as they sought refuge at the Louisiana School for the Deaf in Baton Rouge.

Chris Evenson, coordinator of Interpreting/ASL Education, and adjunct faculty member Robin Price, along with former adjunct Debbie Kopp, who interprets in Disability Services, and their friend Lorraine Rogers, who works in Lancaster as an interpreter, answered a call for help from the Louisiana School for the Deaf and the Catholic Deaf Center, located about 80 miles north of New Orleans.

Interpreters Debbie Kopp, left, Lorraine Rogers, standing in center, and Robin Price,
far right, talk with Hurricane Katrina evacuees Michael and Barbara Mustar, about what they
saw in New Orleans after the storm.

Although the four volunteers stayed at Beverly Hills' for the week they were in Baton Rouge--really, their host was a very nice lady named Beverly J. Hills--they experienced quite a bit of difficulty working in the conditions just after the hurricane.

"Traffic was bad, the heat was stifling, curfews were in effect, security was tight, and many people were a little desperate," said Price. For the four friends, the desperation felt by the deaf, and especially the deaf/blind, were immediately on their mind when the disaster hit. "I kept thinking that they might be in trouble down there," said Rogers. "I was thinking it was time to put our hands where our hearts were!"

So when the call came, the four quickly gathered sponsorship money from family, friends, church--wherever they could find it. They flew to Lafayette, La., and rented a car to get to Baton Rouge, where they were immediately put to work at the Catholic Deaf Center, giving the workers there a break to go home, rest, and see their families for the first time in two weeks. According to Evenson, many deaf evacuees came to the center to get help, and interpreters were needed around the clock to arrange medical appointments, file insurance claims, help families locate each other, and provide support.

"We weren't there five minutes before we saw a deaf brother and sister reunited," said Evenson.

Kopp was immediately dispatched to the parking lot at a Home Depot, where insurance companies had set up tents to deal with claims. "It was 98 degrees every day, and they had fans set up to blow the hot air around," she laughed. Kopp was able to help file insurance claims for several deaf families there.

Rogers was put to work creating a data base from the sheets of paper and information that was pouring into the CDC. "People just needed to vent," she said. "People were so busy in the field that no one had time to organize the massive paperwork accumulating there."

Some issues crop up for the deaf population in times of emergency that most people don't even think about, according to the interpreters. "When cell phone service goes out, their 'sidekicks,' or the pagers that the deaf use, don't work," said Price. Not being able to communicate with family or loved ones becomes a desperate situation.

From left, Kopp, Rogers, Price and Evenson pose outside the Louisiana School for the Deaf, whose initials form an unfortunate combination!

The potential for the deaf/blind population--which is higher in Louisiana due to a genetic condition in that part of the country--to experience extreme distress as a result of the hurricane almost brought Price to tears. While at the center, she heard a story about a deaf and blind man, "George," who spent 10 days on his porch, trapped by floodwaters and not knowing what had happened, before being rescued by medical personnel.

Interpreting to the deaf/blind is a specialized form of communication, but the four Columbus volunteers did not have the opportunity to use it while they were there. All of the deaf/blind fortunately had been accounted for.

"Interpreting for the deaf evacuees was truly a blessing," said Kopp. "We were also able to help serve meals to FEMA and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams. What an experience. It was an honor to serve these men and women."

Would they do it again?

"In a heartbeat!"

The interpreting group poses with their hosts in Baton Rouge: Dawn Melendez ( in white), owner of the interpreting agency that requested their help, and Beverly Hills (in plaid), who hosted them at her home. On left are Debbie Kopp and Christine Evenson; at right are Robin Price and Lorraine Rogers.

Telephone outage planned over Thanksgiving weekend

Due to hardware upgrades planned for the campus' phone system, there will be no phone service on campus over the Thanksgiving weekend, November 25-27. This outage includes emergency phones on elevators and the 20 emergency phones located throughout campus, as well as office phones.

In order to ensure that the phones on campus are functional by the start of the workday on Monday, November 28, Information Technology will conduct a test of a representative sample of phones on campus. If you experience any problems with your phone when returning to work on November 28, contact the Help Desk at ext. 5050.

The upgrades will add features for the various call center groups including the Telephone Information Center, the Help Desk, and Financial Aid.

If you have any questions or concerns about the outage, contact Terry Rockwell, supervisor of Telecommunications, at ext. 5051.

Chambers, Bergquest and Falk to be honored at joint retirement party

Donna Chambers   Claudia Bergquist      Joyce Falk

A joint retirement party is being thrown by Disability Services and the Development Foundation for three employees who have 80 years of combined service to the college.

Donna Chambers, interpreter for 33 years in Disability Services, Claudia Bergquest, counselor for 24 years in Disability Services, and Joyce Falk, development coordinator in the Development Foundation with 23 years of service to the college, will all be retiring at the end of December.

To celebrate their commitment to Columbus State, a retirement party will be held in their honor:

December 2, 2005, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., Nestor Hall, Seminar Room D

Everyone is welcome to join in the celebration and wish these three well on their next phase in life.

Flexible Spending Account meetings announced 

Over the past several months, Human Resources has worked closely with a new vendor to offer a new Flexible Spending Account program to all eligible full-time employees.

Later this month, Human Resources is introducing a new Flexible Spending Account program that will provide a debit card option for employees who enroll in the Health Care Reimbursement Account and/or a Dependent Care Reimbursement Account. The debit card will alleviate having to pay expenses up front and wait for reimbursement, as well as enable you to track your claims online.

Through these programs you can save up to 40 percent on your family's out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses. By setting aside money from your paycheck before taxes, you also lower your taxable wages. You then can use the tax-free dollars you set aside to pay for eligible expenses.

To find out more about the new and improved Flexible Spending Account, attend one of Open Enrollment meetings on the following dates:

- Wednesday, November 30 - Nestor Hall, Seminar Room D, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Thursday, December 1 - Nestor Hall, Seminar Room D, 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
- Thursday, December 1 - Nestor Hall, Seminar Room D, 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

Headcount and FTE Reports now available

Reports of headcounts and FTE for each quarter, Autumn 2004 through Autumn 2005, are now available on the Knowledge Resources and Planning intranet site.

To access the information, go to and select "Headcount and FTE Reports." Next, select a quarter and then a year to obtain the specific reports. The reports are pdf files and Adobe Reader is needed in order to view them.

If you have questions, contact Jim Hamberg, program coordinator in Knowledge Resources and Planning, at ext. 5643.

Lady Cougars place 5th at national championship

Second year students led the way as Columbus State's women's volleyball team finished 5 th  at the NJCAA DIII National Championships held in Rochester, Minn. Lauren Yates of Worthington and Ashley Speakman of Canal Winchester paced the Lady Cougars with 35 and 26 kills, respectively. Opposite hitter Ashlee Schreck of Grove City proved to be a dominant force at the net once again earning 16.5 blocks over the weekend, while fellow high school teammate Tiffany Burke averaged 2.5 digs per game. In a battle to the end, Columbus State was defeated by William Rainey Harper College of Illinois.

Competing at the Nationals
Kneeling, from left, Coach Scott Nichols, Andrea Brooks, Tiffany Burke, Ashlee Schreck Standing, from left, NJCAA DIII Region XII representative Norma Dycus, Lauren Yates, Amy Cherryholmes, Ashley Speakman, Ashley Uhl, Jessica Helmuth, Coach Lyndsey Kretzmann, Roxanne Price, director of Student Activities.

Admissions receives feedback from new Advisory Board

In response to a survey at the annual High School Counselor's Breakfast last April, the Admissions Department has formed an advisory board consisting of 23 high school counselors representing Columbus State's four-county service district.

The advisory board will help Admissions receive feedback on how to improve customer service, marketing and recruitment efforts, and provide more effective service for incoming students. The board will also help generate and refine new ideas.

At the first meeting on November 1, board members discussed the college's high school visits, additional contacts, hosting programs on campus for high school students, and a web resources page for counselors to access information on their students who have applied to the college. Admissions staff also presented information on their areas of responsibilities.

At the meeting, the counselors were surveyed about their top five reasons for joining the board. They include:

1. To become better informed about Columbus State, its programs and services.

2. To build professional relationships.

3. To network with other counselors.

4. To gain a better understanding of transfer programs.

5. To better understand Columbus State's admissions process.

The board will meet once each quarter to discuss various topics. The Winter Quarter meeting will be held February 10, from noon - 2 p.m.

Building accountability and results in business topic of SBDC presentation

Business managers and owners looking to focus on the strategy, business development, and operations of their organizations, need reliable employees they can count on to move their businesses forward.

Brian Cole Miller, founder and principal of Working Solutions, will teach his SIMPLE method for holding others accountable for results in his "Build Accountability, Build Results" presentation co-presented by the Small Business Development Center at Columbus State and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

Based on his new book "Keeping Employees Accountable for Results: Quick Tips for Busy Managers," Miller will discuss steps to holding employees accountable that can be applied to everyday situations.

The seminar will be held December 8 from 7:30- 9:30 a.m. at the Longaberger Alumni House, 2200 Olentangy River Road. Registration is $35. For more information, contact 614-287-5300 or go to

Postal Service to increase rates in January

The Mail Services office received notice that effective January 8, postal rates and fees will increase approximately 5.4 percent.

Recently, the Postal Service Governors voted to accept the Postal Rate Commission's recommendations to increase postal rates and fees by approximately 5.4 percent across-the-board. The first rate increase since 2002 will fulfill a 2003 federal law requiring the Postal Service to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, with fund use to be determined by Congress at a later date.

Single-piece First-Class mail will increase from 37 to 39 cents, postcards will increase one cent to 24 cents, and international rates will also increase on January 8.

Lego League Regional Competition a success

Students compete to take top honors in this year's FIRST Lego League Competition held on Columbus State's campus Saturday, November 19.
Thanks in part to the work of several Columbus State faculty and staff members, Saturday's FIRST Lego League Regional Competition was a success. Sixteen middle school teams representing the central Ohio community competed for top honors in performance, robot design, research presentation, teamwork and FIRST Lego League values.

At the day-long competition, many Columbus State faculty and staff served as referees and judges as math, science and technology were celebrated in athletic fashion.

Laurie Johns, administrator of K-12 Initiatives, says, "I would like to send a 'Thank You' on behalf of the teams, my department, and the college to all the wonderful volunteers from our campus community. I truly appreciate your time and effort to make the event a success."