Saturday, February 8, 2014

OUR TOWN: A Series of Profiles on the Prople of Monmouth

Monmouth Fire Chief
By Paige Elizabeth Nord

     For Casey Rexroat, September 11, 2001 was more than a national tragedy.  It was a life changing moment.    Casey had always wanted to be a fire fighter, but it was the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that convinced him to make firefighting a career.  Rexroat was inspired by how firefighters from across the country came together to help the other fallen firefighters on 9/11.   “I guess you could say that the team aspect or brotherhood is what inspired me.  I believe that firefighting is one of the best jobs in the world.  I know that it will never pay as well as some other jobs, but the fulfillment you get from helping others in their time of need and being able to do something that you love is what makes the job great”.  Casey Rexroat along with the other firefighters at the fire station in Monmouth, IL think of themselves as just regular people doing what they love to do.  

Originally from the Macomb area, Casey Rexroat has been the fire chief at the Monmouth Fire Department for about a year and a half .  His daily responsibilities include communicating with other departments, shift scheduling, payroll, and most importantly responding to emergencies.  Casey started with the Monmouth Fire Department as a firefighter, then he became captain, and now he is the current fire chief.  

Rexroat immediately started pursuing his fire fighter career after 9/11.   “I always thought beforehand it was really hard and competitive to get on a fire department because there are so many people that want to be one and there are so few openings.  I was always a little discouraged by that, but after 9/11 happened I thought I would go ahead and give it a shot and I started testing a couple places and did fairly well on their tests.  I tested everywhere and took the first opportunity I could get”. Casey Rexroat was hired by the Monmouth Fire Department in 2005 and has worked his way up through the ranks until he was appointed to Fire Chief in the fall of 2012. 

 Before Rexroat joined the department he received his Emergency Management Technician (EMT) certification; however, the majority of his training and education was obtained after he was hired by the fire department.  He currently has an associate’s degree in fire science and a bachelor’s degree in fire administration.

 Rexroat finds helping people in their emergency situations the most rewarding part of his job.  He said, “I take a lot of pride in having a fire department.  Sometimes we don’t realize it because it is our job, but we go out and help these people that just had a fire and are displaced and don’t have anything.  Being able to help them is what is most fulfilling about my job”.  His most memorable fire was the large Wells Pet Food fire in 2006.  Casey was a firefighter at the time and it was a fire that lasted for about three days.  The fire department returned to Wells Pet Food over a two week period until the fire was completely extinguished. 
Although Casey has not received any awards in his firefighting career, it is evident Casey is a hard worker during the day.  He has put in numerous hours of work outside of his normal working hours to further his education in his career as a firefighter.  His advice to those seeking to become a firefighter is to achieve a college degree or medical background certification, since many departments are making this a requirement before one is allowed to apply due to the increasing standards of medical training.

In addition to Rexroat’s busy forty hour work week, he is a husband and a loving father of three small children including two girls and one boy all ranging from the ages of three to ten years old.  Some of his hobbies include hunting, fishing, and helping coach his daughters’ softball team with his wife. During the summer months he especially enjoys going on vacation with his family. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

OUR TOWN Profiles of Monmouth

Jane Hartley Pratt 

  By Mackenzie Mahler

“You tell Billy that we don’t fight; we sue.” Originally advice to their son, this is the philosophy that reigned in the Pratt household, and with two lawyers, it makes perfect sense. Local attorney Jane Hartley Pratt is a pillar of the Monmouth community through both her law practice and her service in the local Rotary Club. The Indianapolis native migrated to Monmouth with her late husband, Channing L. Pratt from Washington, D.C.

Pratt graduated from Indiana University’s Law School in 1955. When she entered the school, she was the only woman in the program. “[Dealing with the gender inequality] was a challenge until they realized I was there to graduate, not just to get a man,” said Pratt. “I think it’s best typified by when I walked in the building… we were in an old building and had to walk up a short flight of steps, and there were three fellas standing there. One of them looked down and in a snide comment said, ‘Well, she’s in the wrong building.’ And, I just said, ‘No she’s not!’” By the time she graduated, two other women had joined the program.

“Most of the fellas were great,” said Pratt. “We had – my husband and I – had such special friendships with two of them and their spouses.

Eventually, Pratt and her husband moved to back Monmouth – her husband had roots in Roseville – and took up residence at a local law practice. “I can’t imagine spending your career not sharing it with a spouse,” said Pratt of working with her husband at the firm Beal, Pratt, & Pratt. “It worked great for us. It wouldn’t work for a lot of people, but his personality was such with mine that it worked well.”

In addition to working together, the two got to know members in the community better through different gatherings in town. They didn’t stick to your average book club, however. Instead, Pratt described how the couple formed a gourmet club with several other couples in town and learned how to cook sophisticated dishes. “We were also original members of the wine club in town,” said Pratt. “The club started in 1975, and although I’m the only one left from the original group, we’re still finding out new things about wine.”

Pratt reminisced on raising her three children in Monmouth and how thankful she is that she had this small community to lean on. “It’s nice knowing that if you really need help, you can get it… or give it,” said Pratt. “Monmouth was a great place for raising children. You knew who their friends were and could kind of keep track of things… There were times our kids did things that they don’t know I know about and still don’t know I know about to this day, but we found out from the other parents. In that sense, it’s been a great place to raise children.”
She doesn’t just love the community she lives in, but Pratt actively gives back to Monmouth by serving as the local Rotary Club’s president. “Rotary is an extremely worthwhile organization, and I think we all have to step up and take our turn at leadership. I really consider it a privilege to work with that group,” said Pratt.

“Working with Jane has been an awesome experience,” said Rotaract president and Monmouth College junior, Jake McLean. “It’s apparent how much she cares about the Monmouth community and the people that she works with. Her care for the community is what inspires me and others to continue helping out wherever we can.”

In addition to serving as Rotary president, Jane still practices law full-time at Beal, Pratt, & Pratt with partner Andrew L. Youngquist.