Lackey retires from NCTC after 43-year career

Retiring NCTC Director Alice Lackey, left, speaks with Alice Koch during a reception held at The Willows.

Matt Diehl | Seneca Courier-Tribune

The best way to appreciate what has been accomplished in Alice Lackey’s career at Nemaha County Training Center is to look at where she started.

Forty-three years ago, NCTC had only been operating for a short time when Lackey became the program’s second executive director. Located in the basement of City Hall, it provided day services to about 15 people. The budget was tight and the five employees wore many hats, even using their own vehicles for transportation services.

Alice Lackey stands with Santa, who worked with NCTC for the Breakfast With Santa fundraiser, and Jana Strahm, a current NCTC Board Member.

That’s in contrast to today’s operation, with more than 50 employees providing round-the-clock services to 50 some individuals at two day program sites, three group living residential locations and numerous independent living residential sites, with an annual operating budget of over $2 million.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing, she reminisced last week. “It makes me wonder sometimes how did we get there, but we did – you just hang in there.”

Lackey retired from NCTC effective April 1. A reception held the previous Friday drew a room full of people she’s worked with over the years – co-workers, board members past and present and appreciative county residents.

She originally worked for NEK-CAP, also located in the City Hall basement, where she became exposed to the fledging NCTC, at first through break room conversations over a pool table.

“I got to liking what they were doing better than what I was doing,” she realized.

She took over as executive director in July 1976, taking the reins from the first director, Dave Ranney. Ranney had been hired to perform research for a grant that would help establish the new-to-this-area concept in providing services to developmentally disabled individuals. He then helped get the organization underway in 1975.

Ranney, now a retired senior writer/editor for KHI News Service, attended the reception.

“The fact that you stayed 40-plus more arduous years and built NCTC into what it is, is truly remarkable,” he penned in a congratulatory note.

Her advocacy for NCTC’s people also brought Lackey to InterHab, a state association working to improve the lives of Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She’s served as a member of the executive committee, president and a co-chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee and received the group’s Distinguished Leadership Award.

She mentioned one of the few disappointments experienced over the years was the failure of state legislators to increase funding for disabled services.

“We count on state and federal funds to help keep up with the growing cost of attracting and keeping staff. More times than not there was no increase at all.”

This legislative session, NCTC received a 1.5 percent rate increase.

“This will not go far,” she said.

While state and federal financial assistance isn’t always what it could be, NCTC enjoys outstanding community support, she said.

“People are starting to know more about what we do and they’re willing to help support having our service in town and they want to keep it,” she said.

Future plans remain unknown, but Lackey wants to do something after taking a little time with her family.

“I want to do something where I’m not the manager. I know that I don’t sit still well. I’ll want to do something,” she said.

New director

Susan Futscher of Sabetha has been hired as the new Executive Director by Nemaha County Training Center’s Board of Directors.

Futscher has been with NCTC since 1992, starting as a Direct Support staff in the Day Program at Sabetha. She also worked as Case Coordinator and was the manager of both Seneca and Sabetha Day Care Service Programs. Most recently, she was hired as the Director of Services and Supports in which she managed both the Day and Residential programs.

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