The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Caring & Compassionate: Betty Billmayer and Jana Hauer Make Blaine County a Better Place


December 9, 2020

Jana Hauer has done a remarkable job this year at the Blaine County Health Department, working tirelessly to help the citizens of Blaine County.

We are now into our third installment of recognizing individuals in the community that give so much of themselves to help make our communities a great place to live.

We have set our focus on those individuals that 'give' or 'do' for those around us unceremoniously. These individuals do so expecting nothing in return and with of a great deal of compassion for the community.

This week we will feature two individuals who again exemplify that motto, Betty Billmayer and Jana Hauer.

Betty is constantly looking for ways to help another and has spearheaded the continued success of the Chinook Community Thanksgiving Dinner as well as the first ever Community Christmas Dinner later this month. Betty will be there for anyone in a heartbeat, faithfully contributes to the needs at the Sweet Memorial Nursing Home and works with kids at the Alliance Church.

Jana has had the unenviable job of running the Blaine County Health Department during a pandemic, but she does more than just her job, she goes exceedingly above and beyond. Long before Covid-19, Jana has been a very compassionate and caring person that anyone in the county could feel comfortable with talking to about their concerns.

Jana Hauer

Blaine County Health Department

"From the first time I met Jana I found her to be a very caring person, willing to go above and beyond what her job requires. I doubt she ever really takes time off because it seems like she is always available to help people," said Betty Billmayer.

The Blaine County Health Department has been overworked and under appreciated, " She is very professional and her compassion for people is always evident. I know she has taken some flack from people who don't necessarily agree with the mandates that her job requires her to try to enforce. That is unfortunate. She continues to do her job in a caring and professional manner," added Billmayer. "Deb is great in the office, very friendly and knowledgeable on the phone. I haven't had interaction with the rest of the staff but I know they've all been under a lot of pressure lately and I appreciate them very much."

Hauer, a Class of 2000 Havre High School graduate, earned her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center Nursing Program in 2004. She returned to Montana in 2005 and called Chinook home.

Hauer was a full time Nurse at Havre Public Schools and then at Aaniiih Nakoda College in Fort Belknap. Hauer then went to work at the Blaine County Health Department in September of 2014. In 2018 she received a graduate Certificate in Public Health from the University of Montana. "One of the things that drew me to public health was its population focus. Even when I was in Nursing School I was more interested in areas where science and nursing interventions were used to prevent health problems."

There is so much about Public Health that interests Hauer, like science, nursing, humanities, philosophy and education. "While all nursing specialties are complex, public health nursing checks a lot of boxes for me. I love the autonomy and big picture thinking that public health allows."

Hauer addresses the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges it has created for her and the entire staff of the Blaine County Health Department, "The timing of the pandemic and the politicization of the mitigation strategies, people have made a lot of assumptions about public health and the people that work in the field. It is hard on us, but at the end of the day we know the science and data behind our 'ask' is sound."

Through these trying times, Jana has found a way to get through it all, "My family and friends are wonderfully supportive. My great Incident Command team at Blaine County, creative playlists and nice pens to write with."

Sweet Memorial Nursing Home Administrator Rebecca Shackleford has turned to Hauer for advise often during the pandemic, "The Nursing Home has partnered with the Health Department for all things Covid-19 related, and I look to Jana for answers to many difficult questions. She is always willing to help me find the information or put me in touch with someone who has it."

Shackelford has reached out to Jana for guidelines and knows she has back up when needed, "The work she does as the Public Health Nurse is incredible. Her job has morphed into a tiresome, thankless one that her and her crew have continued to battle through, often being made out as the bad guy. She does all this while maintaining a home and big family. She is real, she is honest, she works hard, is compassionate and understanding. If Covid-19 is the reason I got to know her, then that is the only Covid-19 thing I am grateful for."

Betty Billmayer

Betty Billmayer has been actively involved in the community for years, helping out wherever help was needed. In recent years she has been a savior of sorts for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

In November of 2017 Betty submitted an article to the Blaine County Journal regarding the Thanksgiving Dinner where she referred to the Turkey Day Committee in a very unique way. Betty identified the crew as 'Big Bird - Larry Wisch, Bird Watcher - Jay Eslick, Lady Bird - Kathy O'Brien, and New Birds on the Block-Mark and Betty Billmayer.'

Betty immediately injected a joyful spirit to the committee after speculation that the annual event may disappear, "Betty and Mark saved it, we were in desperate need of help and things weren't looking to good," said Jay Eslick.

Larry Wisch and Dorris Hamilton organized the event for years. Then Ron and Jeanne Dalton spearheaded the event, but after Ron's sudden passing its future was uncertain.

"We couldn't do it without Betty," said Jay. "And for her to have so much care and concern for the community that she felt a need, a want, to do a Christmas Dinner this year as well. We were all immediately on board."

In a year like 2020, with so much isolation and separation Betty really felt a need to do more, "She loves the community, she is all in, and she thinks about the community so much. She really felt for the people that would be alone this year and it's sad because it's true. Betty truly puts herself in their shoes," added Eslick.

Betty's desire to help the community is felt by many, "Lifesaver for the Thanksgiving Community Dinner, she does a fantastic job organizing, coming up with great ideas and is very fun to work with. I've enjoyed it so much," said Kathy O'Brien. "It makes it fun to look ahead and plan more events, she gets the job done. Betty is a very generous and caring person, you can just see that she gives so much of her time and of herself and is clearly about helping others, she is an asset to the community."

Betty Billmayer has been a light in the community for years. Betty has been instrumental in keeping the tradition of the Community Thanksgiving Dinner alive and has even added a Christmas Dinner later this month.

Betty often makes pies or other treats for the Sweet Memorial Nursing Home and loves to work with the kids at the Chinook Alliance Church. "My Dad was a resident there, and I came to really appreciate the staff and the kindness they showed him," said Betty. "While my Dad was there, he appreciated the many things they did and I know how important it is for residents, so I donate stuff for activities. Paul Ramberg commented this summer on how much the Rhubarb pie I brought out meant to him and that was the last thing he said to me before his passing. I was very glad to know I could help."

"We are involved in the Alliance church and I like to work with the kids," Betty added. "We had smaller groups come in the summer and did some bible teaching and games. In October we made up kits for the home instead of having them come to the church in person."

Betty sums up her desire to best help the community, "When God gives me the opportunity to bless someone or do something then I am just as blessed as they are if I do it. If I don't take the opportunity then I'll regret it later. We see so much anger and fear in everything these days and I really appreciate when people in the community are able to celebrate the positive."


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