National Bike Representative Visits HOPE Center, Lamar


HOPE Neighborhood Garden


Members of the HOPE Coalition at the Lincoln School in Lamar received an update on the mission of Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for Quality Bicycle Products. He was a guest of board member, Byron Hall at the Coalition’s monthly meeting.  “I’m going to assist in the design placement of the bike shop and find out the tools that are needed as well as some basic supplies to help the shop get underway and become sustaining for years to come,” he explained.

Based out of Denver and from the company’s headquarters in Minnesota, Sjoquist said he travels around the country to help get projects such as the bike shop established through local community leaders. “Our company’s mission is basically, ‘more butts on bikes’.  We offer accessories, apparel and catalogs for bike parts and related equipment and we work with communities such as Lamar.”  He said his company has a program called ‘Community’ which devotes a percentage of its profits to support biking in towns around the country. “The great news about Lamar is that you’re dead flat,” he said, getting a laugh from the group over the obvious truth about the geography of the area and how that benefits one type of bicyclist.

“We’ll help on your Loop trail and can provide such items as permanent repair stands that are bolted to the ground along the pathway for a quick fix on bicycles.” Sjoquist said he plans to meet with Rick Akers from the Lamar Parks and Recreation Department and Dave Tecklenburg, the Re-2 District School Superintendent.  He explained his company helps organize competing high school bicycle teams across the country.  “We have 19 leagues in 18 states including Colorado, but only in larger communities such as Denver.”

In other action, HOPE Executive Director, Lori Hammer, said work continues on delivering a sod playground, hopefully by the end of October. “Work continues on the sprinkler system and we have to keep some of the kids from going out and playing in the dirt,” she explained.  Plans for a spring barbecue on the playground have been discussed, replacing this year’s community chili dinner that’s usually held in October.

Katie Smotherman is bringing National Honor Society students from the high school to mentor elementary students at the Center every Friday at 1pm. Hammer said Smotherman is the new counselor at the Lamar Middle School and the HOPE kids are responding to the high schoolers in their lessons.  “Sometimes the kids can interact with each other in ways they can’t with adults in getting their lessons explained.”

A scavenger-type Pumpkin Run has been set for Sunday, October 29th which will involve adult drivers and students who will travel through Lamar to search 10 specific areas for items listed in the hunt.  Hammer explained, “The ESL students are arranging the event and working with JoDell Rodgers who has done these in the past with her husband.”  The group that finds all their clues in the shortest amount of time will be the winners.  The Run will be organized around a staggered start and clocked to see who can finish their tour the quickest.  Volunteers from the Lamar Community College’s softball and basketball teams have been visiting the Center at Lincoln School, volunteering to work with the students on Tuesdays and Thursdays and another LCC work-student volunteer spends most of her Friday’s with the kids.

By Russ Baldwin


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