Board members bid business manager farewell
McCOOK, Neb. — Rick Haney just can't seem to get out of school.
The 1980 McCook High School graduate attended his last McCook School Board meeting Monday night and will retire at the end of the month as business manager/treasurer for the district. He began his career at McCook Public Schools 30 years ago as a business education teacher. John Brazell has been hired as the new business manager and will begin in July.
McCook School Board members heaped accolades upon Haney Monday night, citing his expertise in finance, his ability to save taxpayers money and his skill in getting people involved in projects for the district.
Haney, who as business manager was responsible for drafting the district's budget each year, treated the funds frugally, said board member Brian Esch, with every penny spent responsibly. Taxpayers who had questions could visit Haney and get their questions answered and concerns explained, Esch said.
Haney was notorious for getting people to donate their time and expertise for projects at the schools, said board member Bob Elder. Elder said during his involvement with the booster club, he saw firsthand how Haney, then the district's athletic director, persuaded people to donate their time and money for improvement projects at the schools, like the new bleachers in the gym. "I don't know how he did it...I don't think taxpayers understand how much he saves (the district) money," he said.
Loretta Hauxwell and Brad Hays thanked Haney for his help in explaining finances to them. "I don't know money at all...it took him about three hours, he was very patient and explained everything, when for most people it would probably take about only one hour," Hauxwell said.
Haney made a difference in the district, Superintendent Grant Norgaard said, "by doing it right and doing it the right way." Haney's made numerous wise decisions and "has done amazing things with a frugal budget," Norgaard said, citing the amount of work done in-house by an experienced maintenance staff.
Board president Tom Bredvick noted Haney's way with the budget and "even if you know finances, like me, he really knows the numbers," he said. Bredvick also said Haney wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and help out in improvement projects, adding, "he's been known to pour concrete a time or two."
For his part, Haney said nothing could have gotten done during his tenure without help from his staff, the administration and community. "You can't effect change by yourself," he emphasized. "Nothing gets done without people involved."
He noted the work being done by the maintenance staff at the high school, saving millions of dollars by getting the 62-year old building up to speed, instead of building a new school.
Haney graduated from MHS in 1980 and attended McCook Community College for two years. He transferred to the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he graduated with a teaching degree in business education. He taught for four years at Curtis/Medicine Valley, then returned to McCook Public Schools where he taught business education. He later became the activities director and then, business manager for the district.
Along the way he coached many sports, including football and basketball at Curtis; football at McCook, from eighth grade up to high school, basketball and track; and for the past 10 years, head boys golf coach.
Haney said he's felt honored to be at McCook Schools for the past 30 years and the decision to retire was not taken lightly. "I've been thinking about it for the past five years..I'll miss the professionalism of the staff and being around the kids, of course. It's been like one big family."
Change can be is good, he said, "and new blood is good for any entity," he believes.
Haneys' wife, Cassa, has been with McCook Schools for 28 years as a kindergarten teacher. They have three children and five grandchildren, with one more on the way.