It’s Your Business, Aug. 13, 2017



Col. Mark Bruce, superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, recently announced that Communications Specialist II Sally Keeler retired from the Kansas Highway Patrol in June, after serving the state and citizens of Kansas for 14 years. She began her career with the Patrol on April 26, 2003, as a Communications Specialist I with the Patrol’s Central Communications Center in Salina. She was promoted to Communications Specialist II in 2005. In her time with the Patrol, she was also a member of the PEER Team, and the Emergency Response Dispatch Team. She is originally from Gypsum. She graduated from Solomon High School. Prior to her career with the Patrol, she worked at Southeast of Saline School in Gypsum.

Bob Totten recently announced his retirement from the Kansas Contractors Association, Inc., after almost 27 years. A retirement party will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 10 at the business offices located at 800 Jackson. For the past four years, he has been the executive vice president for the Kansas Contractors Association, which began in 1923. In the time he has been associated with the contractors, he has served as their chief lobbyist and has been involved in helping the state legislature pass three transportation programs. The KCA is an association of heavy, highway and utilities contractors who build the bulk of the roads and bridges in Kansas.



Melissa White was recently promoted to digital marketing strategist at jones huyett Partners (jhP). Her new responsibilities include digital media strategy and capabilities for the agency. She will work closely with clients and internal account teams to identify opportunities and execute digital strategies. She is a 2014 graduate of Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing and management. She joined jhP in 2015 as digital media coordinator. She recently received certification in Google AdWords display, allowing jhP to earn the Google Partner badge, certifying advanced knowledge in Google AdWords advertising. jones huyett Partners (jhP) is a regional advertising and marketing firm headquartered in Topeka.

eXplore Lawrence recently announced the hiring of B.J. Harris, who is joining the team as sales manager for Sports. In this role, he will promote and sell the city of Lawrence as a premier destination for sporting events beginning Sept. 2. He comes to eXplore Lawrence after serving the past six years as the executive director of the Crawford County Convention &Visitors Bureau in Pittsburg. While at the Crawford County CVB, he helped increase overall tourism revenue by more than 20 percent. He also helped develop a strong sports tourism market in Pittsburg. He currently serves as the vice president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK), a position he will continue when he joins eXplore Lawrence. He serves as the immediate past president and founding member of SportsKS, an organization formed in 2015 with the goal of growing sports tourism in Kansas. Before entering the tourism industry, he spent nearly a decade in radio, serving in a variety of positions, both on-air and in management. He has continued working as a sports broadcaster and has been a part of more than a thousand high school and college broadcasts, currently serving as the color analyst for the Pittsburg State Football broadcasts. He will be joined in Lawrence by his wife Leslie, who is currently finishing her degree in elementary education at Pittsburg State and his 9-year-old daughter Quorynn.

Stormont Vail Health recently announced that Siddhi Mankame, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, has joined its medical team. She grew up in India and attributes her interest in infectious diseases to the myriad of maladies she saw growing up. She received her degree in medicine from Seth G.S. Medical College, Mumbai, India. She completed an internal medicine residency at Jacobi Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, and went on to complete an infectious disease fellowship at North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New York. In addition to practicing infectious disease medicine, she has served as an academic instructor at Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine, New York, and has authored numerous publications on infectious diseases.

jones huyett Partners (jhP) recently announced that Valerie Slaughter is the agency’s newest shareholder. She joined jhP in 2012 as media assistant and has continued to expand her expertise and responsibilities during her tenure. Her primary duties include media relations, negotiations, research, buying, planning and media budget monitoring. She is also instrumental in helping manage the agency’s finances.

Goodell Stratton law firm recently announced that Whitney L. Casement has joined its Employment Law Team. A veteran of the Office of the Kansas Attorney General, she brings years of civil litigation experience to the firm, having first-chaired a federal court jury trial and successfully managed a heavy case load that included civil rights, employment law, and administrative law matters. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washburn University School of Law in 2012. During law school she interned for Magistrate Judge K. Gary Sebelius of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. She is president-elect of the Women Attorneys Association of Topeka, and membership chair and website coordinator for the Kansas Women Attorneys Association. She is admitted to practice before the courts of Kansas, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Her practice focuses primarily on Employment Law and Workers’ Compensation Defense, Administrative Actions, and Civil Litigation.

The Cosmosphere Governing Board of Directors recently announced the following staff changes, according to Board Chairman Eric Steinle.

Having served the Cosmosphere since July 2011, Richard Hollowell has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31.

Replacing Hollowell as CEO will be Jim Remar, current president and chief operating officer. To prepare for 2018, Remar has already begun shaping strategy with a newly named executive team. That team includes, Tracey Tomme, who will assume the duties and title of executive vice president and chief operating officer; Mimi Meredith will be the senior vice president of development and marketing and chief development officer; Steven Birdsall will be the vice president of finance and chief financial officer and Jack Graber will be the vice president of exhibits and technology. The Cosmosphere International SciEd Center &Space Museum is located at 1100 N. Plum in Hutchinson.

Daryl J. Callahan, D.O., recently joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas as the company’s medical director of quality improvement, disease management, care coordination and medical policy. He has 28 years of experience in the medical profession. Most recently he was the service chief at the U.S. Veterans Administration in Montana; prior to that he gained 12 years experience working at the Irwin Army Community Hospital at Fort Riley. He is board certified in family practice, and served as a family physician at the Phillips County Hospital and physician partner of HealthCare Associates Medical Center in Phillipsburg. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kansas Wesleyan University, a master’s in strategic studies from the Army War College, and a doctorate of osteopathy from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. He served 30 years in the National Guard. He retired as a colonel and was the state surgeon for the Kansas Army National Guard. He lives in Topeka, and has one adult son.

Four new agents have joined RE/MAX Associates of Topeka, LLC, as REALTORS. Darla Williams, Sherri Gibson (both members of The Froese Team), Sarah Hammel (member of The Hammel Team) and Sherrill Mitchell recently joined the local RE/MAX Office.

Stormont Vail Health recently announced that Darlene Stone, CHHR, SHRM-SCP, will join the organization as the new senior vice president and chief human resources officer Aug. 21. She received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 2001 and her bachelor’s in business administration from Texas A&M in 1989. She joins Stormont Vail Health from Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, Fla., where she served as the vice president of human resources and chief human resources officer. She is certified in Healthcare Human Resources by the American Hospital Association and is a Certified Professional by the Society for Human Resource Management . She has spent her entire career in health care beginning in high school when she was employed by her local community hospital.


Barbara Stapelton, vice president of Workforce &Education for GO Topeka, has been selected by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) to study education attainment and workforce development along with 20 other chamber of commerce professionals from communities throughout the United States. The Fellowship for Education Attainment is an immersive executive development program that provides chamber of commerce professionals with education and tools to improve the cradle-to-career education pipeline in the communities they serve. Throughout the year-long Fellowship for Education Attainment, participants are required to develop a regional action plan that focuses on addressing specific education attainment or workforce development issues in their communities. ACCE’s Fellowship for Education Attainment is designed to advance a chamber of commerce’s already-defined education attainment goals and ultimately help the business associations nationwide build replicable programs and processes.

Leaders selected to participate in the 2017 fellowship represent communities including Salina and Topeka; Albany and Brooklyn, N.Y.; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Vail, Colo.; Brockton, Mass.; Burlington, Vt.; Corpus Christi and Irving, Texas; Detroit, Mich.; Evansville, Ind.; Frankfort, Ky.; Fullerton, Calif.; Greenwood, S.C.; Helena, Mont.; Little Rock, Ark.; Mason, Ohio; Raleigh, N.C.; and Tulsa, Okla.

New business

AAA Kansas recently announced its first branch office, focusing primarily on insurance, in Topeka and the introduction of insurance/membership agent Julie Fischer to the AAA Insurance team. The office, located at 6220 S.W. 29th, Suite 400, will serve both members and the general public with a focus on insurance and membership products. Fischer brings 15 years of insurance experience to AAA. A grand opening open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8. Come by and register for door prizes including free memberships, Royals tickets and movie passes. Food and refreshments will also be served. Additionally, a Topeka Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting event will take place during the open house.


With annual enrollment for H&R Block’s Income Tax Course now open in Topeka, H&R Block is also hosting an open house Aug. 17 to talk to interested students about the classes. There is no tuition fee, but students must buy their printed course materials. Those attending the open house will have an opportunity to talk with H&R Block tax professionals about the class curriculum, format and schedules, bilingual options and scholarship opportunities for military spouses to cover the cost of printed materials. The open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at 1835 N.W. Topeka Blvd. For more information, call (816) 854-5500. To enroll in the Income Tax Course in the Topeka area, visit or call 1-800-HRBLOCK.

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a privately held national retail chain of craft and home decor stores, opens at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 14, in Emporia with a ribbon cutting ceremony and official grand opening celebration. The Emporia store is Hobby Lobby’s 16th location in Kansas.

Gary McDaniel is the store manager of the 55,000-square-foot retail facility located at I-35 and Industrial Road in Emporia Pavilions.

The store’s grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is open to the public.


The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) recently announced the winner of the Employee Recognition and Award Program, Audri Smith. She is a public service administrator/graphic designer in the KDOL Communications division and was honored for Meritorious Service. The KDOL Award Program is designed to recognize individual’s efforts that epitomize excellence. The success as an agency depends on each and every employee providing premier service, working in a team environment, producing results with cost control in mind, creativity and innovation, while serving their community. KDOL rewards employees who embrace these ideals as their own, taking them to the highest personal level possible in job performance.

As a new employee, she has stepped up and accomplished her work load, heavy at times, without complaint and always adding suggestions on how to make it better for the agency.

Working on social media, website design, photography and finding new ways to reach the public, she has quickly become an active team member exceeding KDOL communications expectations. This has been a benefit for Kansans and the agency as a whole.

She is a great model for all state employees and deserves the award of Employee of the Month for Meritorious Service.


Doug Martens, group consultant for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, was honored recently for his sales performance during the second quarter of 2017, according to Treena Mason, vice president of group sales and marketing. Martens, who works from the company’s regional office in Topeka, was honored for obtaining 198 percent of his quarterly health enrollment goal. As a group consultant, he markets BCBSKS products to existing and prospective businesses in Geary, Jackson, Marshall, Morris, Nemaha, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties.