Monday, October 29, 2007

an update

It's been a while since I've posted, now hasn't it. October has basically been a pretty busy month for me. Early October, I flew out to Columbia, SC to stay with a friend for a few nights. We both attended the Hanson concert that was in Charlotte, NC, on the 11th, which was a blast. I took my hearing aid off again for this concert. I'm telling you, when I leave the hearing aid on, everything is just pure noise, I can't tell what is what! But with the hearing aid off, I was able to hear the music well enough. It was a bit quiet for me, but it was still enjoyable. And my friend was able to tell me what song Hanson was playing when I didn't recognize it. It was pretty fun.

After I got back from South Carolina, of course, I had to get my wisdom teeth out. Now that was not a pleasant experience at all, but I got through it and am still slowly healing up today. Also have been keeping busy with work. We have new press machines, so I had to be trained on how to work the machines and on the new system we are to use for printing the newspaper pages. No more negatives! How nice is that?

And now... insurance stuff. Open enrollment for insurance for Lee Enterprises stared last week. I still have no enrolled yet, as I am still trying to find out more information and details. There was a meeting about the benefits that are provided, and I did attend it, but I was just even more confused than ever. So I left the meeting early. Am still awaiting a response from Human Resource with answers to my questions. Also, I did get a hold of, uh, was it WellMark? Lemme go pull up my email. I might as well paste it into this blog post, for progress purpose in terms of the cochlear implant process.

Thank you for your email inquiry. We appreciate you contacting us via the Internet to resolve your questions and concerns.

We have researched your inquiry that is attached to this email reply and have made the following determination:

Please be advised prior approval is recommended for cochlear implants. The medical policy can be found at
If approved, deductible would apply and once that is met, the coinsurance percentage to the out of pocket maximum. Then Wellmark would pay at 100% of allowed charges. Best benefits if provided by in network providers. If you would like more specifics please advise which plan you are considering, by email, or by tty 888-781-4262.

I got the link through Lee Enterprise's employees website, and contacted them from there. There is also Blue Cross Blue Shield, which I have heard good things about in regards to covering the implant, and that is the actual insurance company Lee uses I guess. I don't know, I'm still a bit confused but am working on getting my confusion straightened out.

I'm getting there, very slowly. The plans/benefits will start on Jan. 1, 2008 and from there, hopefully I can get a move on. The insurance would cover most of the implant, but I do have to pay a copay. Once I figure out what that copay is, then I could work on getting the funding for that. But first, get my confusion straightened out, enroll, GET the insurance... then get the CT scan done and make an appointment with the surgeon so he can look at the scan and we'll go from there.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Deaf alumni saddened by school's fate

Deaf alumni saddened by school's fate

Star-Tribune staff writer
Note: Meghan Watt attended the Wyoming School for the Deaf from 1991 to 1998. She graduated from Kelly Walsh High School in 2004 and is a community news clerk for the Star-Tribune.

The Wyoming School for the Deaf building in Casper will be torn down as part of the Natrona County School District's plans to build a new elementary school to replace Pineview Elementary.

Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joe Simpson announced the news Thursday in Cheyenne. He told a small group of deaf community members "both buildings have lived out their life expectancy" and that a new school is necessary, as Pineview is beyond repairs. The Natrona County School District owns the land on which the School for the Deaf was built, and the district wants to use that space for the new school.

Some deaf alumni are upset or shocked over the plans, as the deaf school was important in their education and lives.

Kathleen Holmes, one of the first students of the deaf school, told the Star-Tribune in an e-mail message, "It's indeed sad that all the memories and the historical site of the Wyoming School for the Deaf will be wiped out when it's torn down! We held our 50th Anniversary Reunion at WSD last summer."

Catherine Burns of Casper, who also was a student, said, "I think Casper should not tear down the building because it represents us (the deaf students/community) and our memories. Every time I go to WSD, it brings me back to the old time to keep memories alive. Once it is down torn, people will think it never existed."

Josie Wedlock, a former student who now lives in Fort Collins, mentioned that she was shocked when she heard of the news. "I really don't want them to take down the school. I'm just hurt about this. This school meant a lot to me."

While the deaf school building will be torn down, the Services for the Visually Impaired and the Outreach for the Deaf Library will still be available at another location, Simpson said. An archive or a small museum will be added on to the library and resource center for those who want to share their memories.

The design of the original portion of the Wyoming School for the Deaf building is unique. Mark Bennett, a former school for the deaf student and a member of the Deaf Association of Wyoming expressed that he would like to see the new location for the library to have the same "roundness" that the deaf school has.

He also would like to see a meeting room of some sort within the new location, but that will depend on how much space is provided for the library and archive.

Before the School for the Deaf was built, deaf students were educated in temporary classrooms at Casper College and East Junior High. In 1959, a house across the street from Pineview Elementary was purchased and used as a school for the deaf. By 1961, the state legislature appropriated $250,000 so that a more permanent school for the deaf building could be built.

The deaf school was built adjacent to Pineview Elementary so deaf students could be integrated with hearing students whenever possible. It was on January 3, 1963, when the staff and students moved into the new building. The School for the Deaf was closed the summer of 2000, as only one student was enrolled and other deaf and hard of hearing students were mainstreamed into public schools with services.

The original building continued to be used as a library and resource center for the deaf since the closing.

Once the new elementary school has been built, a memorial bench, plaque or other type of recognition will be created and placed on the location where the deaf school building stood. Janine Cole, an outreach consultant for the Wyoming Department of Education's services for the deaf and hard of hearing, thinks it is important that a memorial is placed on the property to honor the School for the Deaf.

Simpson is encouraging the School for the Deaf alumni and the deaf community to get creative and share ideas of what the memorial should be as their ideas will be taken into consideration. The state will try to organize a committee for the alumni to discuss memorial ideas.

An archives Web site for the deaf school is in the works. Until then, Cole will see that a Web site is added to the State Department of Education's website. This site will be updated as information becomes available, and will include a way for people to express opinions about the demolition plans.

Casper Star-Tribune