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Marlane Wenzel is new Director at Chinook Senior Center


June 13, 2018

Marlane Wenzel poses beside the 'greeter board' in the Chinook Senior Center. She started her new duties as Director of the senior center on May 14. A 1975 graduate of Chinook High, Marlane grew up in Chinook. She lived for many years in Minnesota with her husband Kurt and their three daughters, now grown. Marlane's parents were Meredith and Madeliene Gilmore.

Marlane Wenzel began serving as the Director for the Chinook Senior Center on May 11. Wenzel, who grew up in Chinook, is a 1975 graduate of Chinook High ("The year we won the Class C Championship!"). She replaces Kristi Norby who served in the position for more than two years before opting to take on the role of "new grandma" for her and husband Scott's first grandchild.

Marlane and her husband, Kent, moved to Minnesota in 1985 where he got his first job after graduating from North Dakota State University in Fargo. She worked for several years with a small newspaper as "the chief cook and bottle washer." She explained, "It was a small paper and I did everything from developing photos in the darkroom and helping lay out the paper to selling ads." She left the newspaper in 2006 and began working from home as a medical transcriptionist. She did that work for about 12 years until the work began to taper off. Their family grown, the Wenzels moved back to the Harlem area in October, 2017.

The Wenzels have three adult daughters, one in Chinook, Kalispell and Minnesota. Kent retired from his work in agriculture but still works at the Zurich school and trains horses. Kent and Marlane are hoping to move to Chinook in the very near future.

Asked about the process that led her to apply for the position with the senior center, Wenzel said, "I saw the first ad for the director's job. I applied, then lost my nerve and withdrew my application before a scheduled interview." In the meantime, she took a job with Albertson's grocery store in Harlem as a bookkeeper and clerk. She was working at the grocery store when the second ad appeared for the job at the senior center.

While at Albertson's she would often have lunch at the Harlem Senior Center, just across the street from the grocery store. She explained, "I got to know the residents and the staff at the Harlem center. When the second ad for the job in Chinook came up Katy Noel, the Director of the Harlem Center, told me, "I think you would be great in that job. It's a natural for you."

The rest is history, Wenzel applied a second time. Tom Tilleman, the Chairman of the Chinook Senior Center Board of Directors, said, "The board initially reviewed a number of applications. Some applicants didn't really fit the requirements and a couple of others took themselves out of the application process for various reasons." It was at that point the position was advertised again.

Tilleman said, "When the board saw her application and interviewed her it was a unanimous decision to offer Marlane the job. We all really liked her and thought she would be an excellent fit for the position. She has worked as a cook and knowledge of meal preparation and planning menus with the cooks is a big part of the job. She also held several prior positions where she interacted with the public. Her references were all excellent."

The next part of the process

Only in her fourth day on the new job, Marlane said, "I'm not ready to talk about changes or things I might want to add to the programming at the center. The meals are very well done and nutritious. I'm meeting a lot of people I knew from when I lived here before or meeting mutual acquaintances that date back to my early years in the area. Rochelle (Wolfschlager who was overseeing the operation during the search process for a new director) has been very helpful getting me grounded in the new job. Soon I'll be meeting with former director Kristi Norby and begin learning the "nitty-gritty' of the job."

Reached in Pullman, Washington where she was visiting her daughter and new grand baby, Kristi Norby said she was very excited that a new director was hired. She added, "I expect to be back in Chinook in a few days and begin training Marlane in the details of the director's duties."

Norby said, "I enjoyed my time at the center and will miss the many new friends I made during the two years I worked at the senior center. I'm looking forward to helping Marlane get off to a good start and believe it will be a smooth transition to a new director."

The "Journal" welcomes Marlane to her new position and wishes her much success in her new post.


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