David Willey receives 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award

Outstanding Alumna—David Willey
Engineering 2000


“Ask me how a toolbox changed my life.”

This is something David Willey asks his students every year. You’ll soon find out why.

When Mr. Willey, now 41, started at Tri-Rivers Career Center in the 2017-2018 school year as the Construction Trades Academy Instructor, he said, “I want to create the best construction program in Ohio.” This wasn’t just a pipe dream; Mr. Willey had a plan, the passion, and the energy to make it happen.

Growing up in rural Prospect, Ohio, Mr. Willey enjoyed building things with his dad. His dad instilled in a young David a passion for building and using his hands. He found that he loved the experience of creating something that will last not only a lifetime, but several lifetimes.

He attended Elgin Schools through the tenth grade, then transferred to North Union. He chose to major in Engineering at Tri-Rivers—the area career center—his junior and senior years. He enjoyed playing sports and fishing the riverbanks of the Scioto. He also dreamed of building his own home someday. He was a young man with a mission.

After graduating he was accepted into a 4-year union carpenters apprenticeship program and studied construction management at Columbus State. He would continue to follow in his dad’s footsteps becoming a heavy highway/commercial carpenter for Kokosing Construction Company and later a general carpenter foreman for George J. Igel Company—both companies are highly respected companies known for their superior construction work.

Mr. Willey’s construction career was going so well, and he had learned so much in the industry that he eventually decided he wanted to share his knowledge. He wanted to instill the same passion he has for building in young people. He wanted to be sure they have amazing opportunities and exceptional training.

Accepting the Construction Trades Academy (CTA) teaching position at Tri-Rivers was just the first step. He then earned his teaching license through the University of Toledo. He also made connections with companies he’d worked with to build a strong Advisory Committee of 27 professionals from the industry. These individuals know the high level of training that Mr. Willey is providing students and respect his hands-on, full commitment approach to preparing them for successful careers in construction. They also support his program with their expertise, time, and donations.

“David Willey is truly a teacher of an art, a family man, a tradesman by heart, and a friend,” said Jon Fetter, owner of Fetter Brothers Construction and an Advisory member for Mr. Willey’s Construction Trades Academy program.

Fetter met Mr. Willey four years ago.  “We decided to work together, utilizing his Construction Trades’ students in our company, and mentoring them after hours. I went to his classroom and observed what he was doing there. I saw that Mr. Willey and I have the same passion and values within the construction trade. I have worked with his students, and each year they are phenomenal. You can see the impression he has on them. He is a great all-around leader,” said Fetter.

With Mr. Willey’s connections and partnerships, the CTA program has grown from around 20 students in the Level 1 and 2 programs to more than 100 students in the Construction Trades 10 (preconstruction), Level 1 and Level 2 programs. Mr. Willey utilizes tradesmen from the field that he knows to provide specialized training such as Computer Aided Drafting (CAD). Eventually an aide and an additional instructor were added. The program outgrew its space and now occupies two additional labs and has an outdoor area for large equipment training.

But wait, what about the toolbox? The real reason the program has grown. Each year Mr. Willey tells new students to ask him about his toolbox. He says, “Ask me how a toolbox changed my life.” The students ask and quickly learn the tools are not just the tools of the trade, but the tools that will help them in life to become great people, great family members and great members of the team in whatever career they choose.

He is there for his students not only during class but after school as well. On Friday nights, you’ll find Mr. Willey at a student’s football game or another event supporting them. Even when they graduate, he remains their mentor.

Mr. Willey believes every student deserves a chance…and a second chance and maybe a third. He guides and supports his students through difficult situations. He makes them accountable and teaches them to learn from good and bad experiences. He helps them to grow personally and in their chosen career paths. He is there for them.

He works hard to ensure every Senior in his program achieves his/her “E”—enrollment, employment, or enlistment. The network he has built with contractors, as well as the apprenticeships he’s promoted and the partnership he’s created with Columbus State take time to cultivate and maintain. But many of them worked with Mr. Willey when he was out in the field and know his quality of work and now his quality of teaching. They trust the training he is providing. They know it allows his students to enter the workforce at a high level. They are ready to hire them!

He and his students also provide hands-on Career Exploration Workshops to teach the younger students and 4-H club members in our area about the construction trade—electrical, concrete, formwork, carpentry, and heavy equipment operation. He also now teaches Construction Management at Columbus State where he has forged a partnership that allows his students to earn college credits while in high school.

With the support of industry advisory members and the community, he has enhanced the heavy commercial construction area of the Construction program. Because of his planning, our young men and women are learning to operate heavy equipment and choosing that pathway to help fuel the high demands of the industry.

At Tri-Rivers we talk a lot about working hard, playing hard and giving back. Mr. Willey teaches his students the importance of not only learning a trade but using your skills to give back to the communities where you live. Some of the community service projects utilizing Construction Trades Academy students’ skills, include concrete pouring for the Huber Museum, Marion Downtown Inc. projects, construction at the Marion Women’s Club Home, building a pavilion at the Tall Grass Trails, completing projects at our associate schools, and building a pavilion for the Senior Center. For this project Construction Trades Academy was awarded the 2021 Community Service Award from the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc.

Everything he does, he does from his heart. He puts 110% into every aspect of his life. He always volunteers to help with projects at our school and to be on committees—if they are working committees because he is not one sit still. He is also quick to thank others and to send notes of thanks.

Mr. Willey always says, “I could not be more thankful to teach and to be a father to my two daughters and raise them with my wife on our family farm.”

David Willey has not only built the best construction program in Ohio, but he has built strong young men and women.

Mr. Willey, we—students, staff, administrators, community members— couldn’t be more thankful that you chose to leave your very lucrative career to become a teacher.  What you have done and continue to do is priceless.

By Ellen Messenger

Thomas Poorman is an Outstanding Alumni 2023

Outstanding Alumna—Thomas Poorman,
HS Engineering 2017 & Adult Education Apprenticeship Classes.

Introduced by Mark Edington, left,  of RAMTEC.

Darian Curren 2023 Outstanding Alumni

Outstanding Alumna—Darian Curren, Adult Education, LPN 2011.

Dakota Elswick recognized as Outstanding Alumni 2023

Outstanding Alumna—Dakota Elswick
Welding 2017

“Good Evening, I am Levi Retterer and I have the honor of introducing Dakota Elswick for the Tri Rivers Outstanding Alumni award. Dakota and I share the privilege of teaching the high school welding program together and I am proud of her for earning this recognition. Dakota started her welding career at a young age in Future Farmers of America, and then decided to complete the welding program at Tri Rivers during her junior and senior years.

She often talks about how she decided between Cosmetology and Welding, and in my opinion our great trade is better due to the decision she has made. Dakota is an Excellent role model and mentor, especially to the female students in the welding program. We have a large number of female welding students in our program currently and an even larger number enrolled for the upcoming year which I have no doubt is due to Dakota being a leader in the program.”

Staff and friends of Dakota often reminisce about when Dakota was a student here.  She would come into the lab still wearing her cheerleading uniform from her home school, change into work clothes and get to work to refine her craft. That tradition carries on to this day, as Dakota often out welds everyone in that lab with fingernails that make me wonder how she can fit a pair of gloves on over them.

Her skills and abilities rival many experts in the field, and she carries herself like a true professional in the classroom. Dakota is also a devoted mother to her two children, Hunter and Harper alongside her husband Shawn who is also a graduate of the welding program. She is a friend to many and a passionate educator. I count myself lucky to work with such a great person. 

Congratulations on this well deserved honor.

Clayton Tackett honored as 2023 Outstanding Alumni

Outstanding Alumna-Clayton Tackett
Auto Body & Collision Repair 1985

Growing up in Marion, Clayton Tackett always loved cars.  His parents provided him with the basics, and instilled in him an understanding of the value of work.  One of Clayton’s first jobs was delivering papers on Marion’s west end… which conveniently allowed him to keep an eye on developing hot rod projects in his neighborhood.  He read all of the car magazines and dreamed of one day having the talent of some of his heroes.

School?  He did not love that quite so much.  In fact, he wasn’t even sure he would finish it.

Enter Mr. Wayne Stewart and the Auto Body and Collision Repair program.  These game changers expected him to “be amazing” long before it was ever a tagline.  In 1985, he became an esteemed Tri-Rivers graduate and went off to work.

This story could end right now and be a win.  But it became clear that he was different, and he quickly found out that difference was in demand.

So, he opened his own business, Kustom Kolors, to offer innovative custom design and painting for one-of-a-kind projects.  He quickly realized that he could leverage his own skills by building a great team and collaborating with others.

These traits — and his leadership and vision – are demonstrated in the work he and his team did creating custom work in collaboration with Baja Boats. With names like “Poker Face”, “Split Decision”, “Shake and Bake”, and “Lucky 7s”, these boats became famous in their own right and have been featured in national boating magazines like Power Board, Hot Boat and the like.

His auto work is known for that same commitment to quality.  As just an example, there is a 1971 Pontiac that has taken local car shows by storm in the past year, including “Best of Show” at the Wings of an Angel RISE car show.  This car, featuring Clayton’s work, will be on the promotional materials for the 2023 event, including t-shirts.

Clayton contributes to the community in a variety of ways.  Specifically, within his career field, he designed the look for the repurposed Marion City School bus used for the mobile summer food program.  The bus is an integral part of feeding thousands of kids each summer throughout the city.

He also provided support to members of the American Red Cross/MCI Branch by donating much needed equipment and feedback to their painting program.

With others, he has also donated time, expertise and talents to provide hands on training in the art of custom painting, airbrushing, pinstriping and highlighting to students in Tri-Rivers Collision Repair and Automotive Technology classes.

Clayton continues to paint every day, but has also ventured into other businesses and non-profits that require that same level of customer service, commitment to quality, and attention to detail

In 2017 when he became co-owner of one of Marion’s iconic businesses, Clayton immediately updated his title to “caretaker” of the OK Café and, with a great team, helped return it to its former glory — kicking out great pizza, cold brews, and showcasing local live music.

Clayton, along with his partner, also own a low power, non-profit radio station.  True Blues 97.5 is the only all blues station in the state of Ohio.  The proceeds fund a local non-profit, “Marion Makes Music”, which provides free music education services to children in Marion County, Ohio.

Clayton is quick to point out that none of this could have happened without help from others.  Something he tries to pay forward.  His Dad, Tom Lusch, Wayne Stewart (Tri-Rivers instructor), Pat Regules, Lester Smith, Pete Miller, and Mike Nicolosi were all great influences and advisors as he established his business.  He also emphasizes the important role that his wife Nicole and his family have played in any personal and professional success that he has achieved.

No one can really ever know all of the ways that he has contributed to his field and to others – and that is exactly the way he wants it.

Clayton, this recognition is hard earned and well deserved.  Thank you for what you do.

By Tarina Rose







Michael Bodine II Outstanding Alumni 2023

Outstanding Alumna—Michael Bodine II
Engineering Drafting 1994

Michael Bodine is leaving his mark on Marion and Central Ohio, literally. The 1994 graduate of Tri-Rivers’ Engineering & Drafting program has been a part of many critical infrastructure improvements to Central Ohio. Plus, his brilliance in branding, graphic design, photography, videography, and commercials can be seen all around Marion and beyond!


Some areas of critical improvements that he has worked on include working with:

The New Albany Company—the Amazon Distribution Center, Meta Data Center (which is Facebook), and Google.  Mike worked on Improvements to the area to help accommodate these facilities.

For The Ohio State University, he worked on Infrastructure improvements, the Cannon Drive relocation and renderings.

At Miami University – he worked on a roadway design for campus to help improve the  traffic flow.

And, He has worked on countless others.

Michael has also been involved in engineering projects for the City of Bucyrus, including their Downtown Park Design and Conceptual layouts. And if you’ve seen that, it’s beautiful! The park is a focal point for that community.   He has done countless layouts for subdivisions all over central Ohio and numerous expansions of Industrial Parks for economic development in central Ohio.

In Marion his Graphic Designs, Videography, and Conceptual Layouts have helped to develop Founders Park in the Downtown. His Branding and Design is evidenced at Nathan’s Barbershop, Taste of Memphis, Attaboys, Harding Harbor Seafood, The Paisley Peacock, Marion Police Department, Marion MPACT Program, and Marmet.

He has also done Videography for Marion Technical College, Marion Children Services, Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Whirlpool Corporation, Day One Integrative Services, Habitat for Humanity, Payne’s Pizza, Taste of Memphis, Attaboys, Harding Harbor Seafood, Nathans Barbershop, Cooper’s Bowl, Main Squeeze, Charleston Place, Infinite Inflatables, Brave Woman Boutique, The Door Guys, Northern Ohio Fire Prevention, Golf Cart Guy, Bowstring Bar and Grill, Corey’s Stump Grinding, Hessler’s Screen Printing, Marmet, Marion Police Department, Mathews Honda, Mathews Dodge, Pop’n & Roll’n, Nationwide – Douce Agency, HER Realtors, Doyle’s Auto Repair, Marion Public Library, KCI Realty, Paradise Park, Sansotta’s Fresh Italian, Marion City Schools, Marion Public Health Dept, Marion County Dispatch Center. Just to name a few…The list goes on and on.  (hold up the book)

Michael’s journey in the Civil Engineering field has worked well with his passion for graphic design and videography.

He also enjoys volunteering. He donates his time to help with designs to promote the city of Marion and local businesses. He has made considerable contributions to the Marion City Police Department. He has also used his photography skills to promote several local businesses through social media.

We thank Mike for being on the advisory board for our Interactive Media program and for being a mentor to Tri-Rivers’ students.

Mike, we admire your passion, your professionalism, and tireless efforts to better Central Ohio. You are truly a TRCC success story, and we are proud of you.

By Ellen Messenger


Tri-Rivers honors Presidential Post Acute for Distinguished Service

Introduction by Dr. Emeline Kelly

Presidential Post-Acute was chosen as one of the Distinguished Service Award recipients this year. The core component of nursing education and other healthcare programs is the clinical experience. Through this experience under the guidance of licensed and working nursesstudents can take the knowledge they learned and are tested on in the classroom and now apply it in real situations with real patients.

Implementation of our HealthCare Programs requires collaborative partnerships with our clinical sites. Our nursing faculty believe that success in completing nursing education requires the adoption of an effective hands on approach to familiarize the students with new knowledge and essential needs of the patients they will be caring for.

Implication of collaborative Partnership with Presidential

Presidential Post-Acute has been our clinical partner for many years. This distinguished award reflects both past and current service Year after year, they provide us clinical support in preparing our healthcare students in obtaining valuable clinical experiences; allowing our students the opportunities and privilege to care for their residents. These clinical experiences assist students in developing clinical judgement, and critical thinking as well as cultivating their learned skills.

Pictured: Dr. Emeline Kelly, Tri-Rivers; Hillary Suter, Presidential Post Acute;
Dr. Charles Speelman, superintendent; and Linda Dotson, Presidential Post Acute.

The Clinical site

Presidential Post-Acute is a full-service skilled nursing and long-term care facility within the Marion community. They provide a range of services to their residents including physical, occupational, and speech therapies. As well as long-term, palliative, and hospice care.

Presidential Post-Acute is known for its professional and compassionate team of physicians, registered nurses, licensed practical (vocational) nurses as well as state-tested nursing assistants. The Presidential team provides 24-hour care to ensure that all rehabilitation and skilled nursing needs are being met. The residents that reside here can enjoy the finest in senior living paired with the flexibility needed to meet their needs.

Presidential Post-Acute has repeatedly been recognized as one of the best nursing and senior living homes in the region with outstanding results.

The healthcare team is known for being passionate about the residence road to recovery and providing comfort and understanding every step of the way.

The impact of Pandemic

Their commitment and dedication in supporting our students was even more evident during the pandemic Because of COVID 19 all Clinical sites closed their doors and suspended clinical rotation. This resulted in challenges, practical worries, fewer learning opportunities, and even fundamental doubts among faculty and students.

Presidential Post-Acute was one of the first facilities to allow our students to return and participate in clinical education during this trying time. The Nursing administration and staff at Presidential accepted our nursing faculty and students, provided respectful and professional communication about matters such as responsibility for COVID testing, mitigation strategies, the provisions of uniforms and personal protective equipment, and structurally sharing guidelines with nursing faculty and students to provide safe patient care. Through collaborative efforts between the facility’s and education program’s nursing leaders, a safe, and nurturing learning environment was implemented.


Amanda Tackett—2022 Outstanding Alumni

Introduction by Becky Salyer and Roy Schweinfurth

Representing the Tri Rivers Cosmetology Program Outstanding Alumni Amanda Tackett. Amanda is graduate of the class of 2003. She received her Cosmetology license in the spring of 2003 and began working as an apprentice/stylist at Charles Penzone’s Salon and Spa. Amanda was a team member for two years training in a state-of-the art salon with the newest products and equipment as well as having outstanding educational opportunities. She continued her career at Rejuvenations Salon and Spa in Marion where she continued to work for 15 years. For the last year and a half Amanda has been self-employed at Brush Hair and Skin Bar. Being self-employed Amanda over sees all aspects of the business. She is responsible for her continuing education, inventory, scheduling, taxes, insurance and meeting all State Boards Rules and Regulations.

Amanda has maintained a professional attitude, participates in advanced education to better herself as well as the people around her. She has maintained a large clientele to be able to work as an independent contractor. Amanda has been a strong force in the cosmetology industry. She maintains professionalism and is an excellent role model for future cosmetologists. Amanda’s work ethic in the Cosmetology field has been superior. Her attendance has always been exceptional. Her attention to detail within her work environment and willingness to help her co-workers has made her a much appreciated and valued employee. Amanda has always been an individual that strives for the next level.

Amanda’s contribution to Tri Rivers include advisory committee member attending meetings, judging local SkillsUSA contests and assisting with our annual Shear Class Style show. Amanda has often shared advance training with the Cosmetology Class giving of herself to provide educational opportunities to our students.

Amanda works diligently to be a good mother and spouse to her family. She is very involved in her children’s education and sport activities. She runs a very structured home to always having time for her children and working with them to expand their individual interests. Amanda also takes good care of her physical self to give the most to all aspects of her life.

Amanda has proven be the total package. She has learned how to balance her home while challenging herself to reach for higher levels in her career field. As motivated as Amanda is, we believe she will continue to challenge herself to higher levels throughout her career.

Please join me in congratulating Amanda Schweinfurth Tackett, Outstanding Alumni

Hillary Suter–2022 Outstanding Alumni

Introduction by Billie Fields-Baer

Good Evening, welcome friends, family, colleagues, and our Board of Education members. It is my honor to present to you the 2022 Tri-Rivers Adult Education Outstanding Alumni…Hillary Sutter.

Hillary can be described as a devoted student to Tri-Rivers Adult Education. Not only because she has always strived to do her best, while continually challenging herself, but because she has graduated from every adult healthcare program in which Tri-Rivers Adult Education has to offer. Hillary is a 2006 graduate of the Patient Care Technician Program and a 2006 graduate of the Emergency Medical Technician Program. Upon completion of these two programs, Hillary began her Health Career Career at Med-Corp as an ambulance transporter, where she worked for three years.

After leaving Med-Corp, she continued to work in home health care for an additional four years. It was during this time Hillary decided that she wanted to enhance her knowledge and enrolled in the Tri-Rivers Adult Education Paramedic Program, which she completed in 2007. In 2012 Hillary enrolled in our Practical Nursing program which she completed in 2013. Upon graduating from the Practical Nursing program, she worked with the MRDD population at Angeline Industries for two years. Striving for more challenges, Hillary then began working at Presidential Post Acute as an LPN where she gained experience for three years before returning to Tri-Rivers yet again to enroll in the LPN to RN program, which she completed in 2019.

Upon graduating from the RN program, Hillary worked as a contingent RN at Presidential Post Acute. Where she also took on the role of Assistant to Christin Browning Nurse Practitioner, making rounds on patients at various facilities.

Hillary not only had a long-standing history, but had a great rapport with the residents and the staff, and therefore was offered the position as Director of Nursing of the facility in which she currently holds.

As the Director, Hillary has been faced with many challenges beginning her new. Position at the onset of the COVID pandemic, which came with numerous challenges. She has also learned to fill the roles of various positions within the facility due to staffing shortages, such as MDS, scheduling, and fiscal while continuing to work as a floor nurse. Not only has she survived running a LTC facility during a pandemic, she has also survived a remodel, a flood and a re-remodel of her facility

Therefore, it is obvious to why Hillary has been chosen as out 2022 Outstanding Tri-Rivers Adult Education Alumni.



Jack Holliday, Jr.—2022 Outstanding Alumni

As we honor our Distinguished Adult Ed Alumni this evening, let me begin by taking a moment to share a brief history of our Paramedic Program.

In early 1980, the North Central Ohio Emergency Medical Services Training Council, recognized the critical need for advanced pre-hospital emergency medical care, in the greater seven county area. They approached Marion General Hospital for help in developing an educational program that could supply Advanced EMT’s and Paramedics to fulfill that need. A Paramedic Advisory Committee was organized in May of 1981. It was their task to guide the formation of a paramedic education program and to oversee the application for state accreditation of the program through the Ohio Board of Regents. In November 1981, that accreditation was granted.


The first Paramedic class at Marion General Hospital began on October 5, 1982, and ran through to the second week of June, 1983. Twenty students started the program and twenty students completed the program. Then on July 1, 1984 the Hospital signed an agreement with Tri-Rivers Joint Vocational School that consolidated the resources of both facilities in order to take advantage of the educational and financial benefits of such a merger. The school became known as Tri-Rivers/Marion General Hospital School of Paramedicine.


One of the Distinguished Alumni that we are honoring this evening was a member of the very first class that was held after that consolidation. That alumni is Jack Holliday Jr.


Who is Jack Holliday Jr? He’s the son of Jack Holliday Sr., a distinguished public servant himself. Jack Sr. served eighteen years as Chief of Marion Township Fire Department and he was a member of that very 1st Paramedic Advisory Committee back in 1981. His son, Jack Holliday Jr. developed his interest in firefighting and public safety services at a very early age. Jack Jr., graduated from Marion Harding High School on May 31, 1981 – he enlisted in the Ohio National Guard and was in basic training on July 1st, just a few weeks later. Later that year he completed his firefighting training at the U.S. Air Force Fire Fighting School – Chanute Air Force Base in Champaign County, Illinois.


In 1982 Jack completed his EMT training back in Marion, Ohio. In 1983 he completed the Ohio Fire Academy. Then in 1984-1985, Jack was a member of the first Tri-Rivers/Marion General Hospital Paramedic School class.


I found it interesting that right at the time that Jack was completing his studies in our Paramedic program, it was reported in The Marion Star under an article entitled; “Tri-Rivers is home to good things” that “A review team for the Ohio Board of Regents concluded that the Tri-Rivers / Marion General Hospital School of Paramedicine is one of the best classroom and clinical programs in the state”.


In 1987 Jack began his career at Marion Township Fire Department. He became a Fire EMS Instructor in 1989. In 1993 he was promoted to Lieutenant at Marion Township. Jack is also a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program – at the National Fire Academy in Maryland, which he completed in 2000. And in 2016, Jack Holliday Jr. retired from Marion Township Fire Department.

Accepting the award on Jack’s behalf were Richard George and Dr. Emeline Kelly. 

He then started back at Tri-Rivers as a Paramedic instructor and today Jack is our Lead Paramedic Instructor for the program. At Tri-Rivers our programs provide excellent training, combined with excellent students, to produce graduates who go on to complete distinguished service for our community.


Like many of our graduates, Jack is a true advocate of lifelong learning, He continues to train and advance his knowledge and skills by taking online courses through Columbia Southern University. Jack is finishing up work towards completing a Public Safety Services Bachelor’s Degree. Since his return to Tri-Rivers, Jack has been instrumental in strengthening our community / school support. He’s a very strong supporter of Tri-Rivers Career Center, our School of Paramedicine and the programs and training that we provide.


Unfortunately, Jack could not be here this evening – he just had his hip replaced on March 2nd, and he really did hope to be able to be here. I spoke with Jack yesterday and he shared that he is still with staples and stitches, and living in the power assist chair. (He is hoping to have those staples and stitches removed later this week.) His ultimate goal is to be back to school by April 1st for the Prep Class for the largest single Paramedic class that we have had in several years, 18 Paramedic students.


Jack’s father passed away in 2013, but I believe that somewhere up above, he’s smiling down as his son is being recognized as a one of our Tri-Rivers Adult Ed, Distinguished Alumni, this evening.

Introduction by Richard George