The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Stepping Down

Steve Mattoon Calls It Quits After 36 Years With School Board


December 16, 2020

While many people are gratified with a career in one occupation but several locations, others have interests that develop into careers, including “volunteer careers.”

Steve Mattoon is closing his 36th year of service to one “career” and location — Sidney Public Schools.

“I am concluding my 36th year and ninth four-year-term,” he said recently.

He said he considered not running prior to the last two elections. He decided to stay on the board because of the instability related to the changes associated with Cabela's.

“I was concerned over the potential loss of good board members and faculty, and decided to remain on the board” he added.

Mattoon said the school board lost some good board members and faculty during the transition of Cabela's/Bass Pro.

He started his volunteer career with motivations of the heart. He says there were three reasons that motivated his first run for the school board: his daughters Kendra and Stephanie were in elementary school, he was approached by board members to run, and he had a desire to give back to the Sidney Public Schools.

“Many of us, me included, did not truly appreciate the education we are receiving or have received in the Sidney Public Schools at the time," he said.

He said attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln also taught him how well he had it attending Sidney schools, how the curriculum prepared him for college. He recalls Mrs. Dorothy Holloway and how his Sidney High School classes made UNL American Literature “not particularly difficult.”

“It may sound cheesy, but I wanted to give something back to the school, which I felt had given so much to me,” he said.

During his time on the school board, Mattoon has seen many changes. Thirty-six years of service will do that, from personnel to educational focus. During his time on the board, the District was able to acquire, with the help of the St. Patrick's Parish, the St. Patrick's High School, then changed to West Elementary School. He also recalls the efforts to build a new high school. The effort took weathering two failed bond elections. The third attempt succeeded, allowing the construction of a new high school, including a performing arts center and the Cabela's Athletic Facility. The next most memorable change he recalls is the transition of the elementary schools from all elementary grades at each location to the current approach of all students of all students of a grade level are at a specific school. The new concept allows common usage of programs, facilities and faculty, he says.

Of his experiences on the school board, watching the changes in technology has been one of the most important, he says.

“I believe Sidney Public Schools have been at the forefront of not only keeping up with, but leading technology in education. Examples include Sidney Raider TV (SRTV), which was one of the first technology programs for journalism students in the state, the availability and usage of Chromebooks and the award in 2020 for Sidney High School being a National Blue Ribbon School,” Mattoon said.

He added the COVID Pandemic caused changes no one wanted, including virtual learning and extra safety precautions. With all of the adjustments and required changes, Mattoon says the school district has been exemplary in its approach.

“I believe the administration has done an outstanding job in keeping students moving forward in education and being in the classroom to the fullest extent possible, despite the COVID Pandemic,” he said.

Mattoon was born and raised in Sidney, graduating from Sidney High School in 1969 and the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1976. he has been in Sidney since he began practicing law. He has been a resident of Sidney his entire life, with the exception of the seven years attending the University of Nebraska and University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln. His parents moved to Sidney in 1948 when his father joined the law firm of Paul Martin and Lowell Davis.

Mattoon followed his father's footsteps, returning to that law firm after law school. It was then composed of Paul Martin, Mattoon's father Frank and Gerald Matzke. He has been very active in the Nebraska State Bar Association, serving for more than 25 years in the House of Delegates, previously serving as Chairman of the House of Delegates and completing his term as president of the Nebraska State Bar Association in October of this year.

The practice of law continues to his daughters. Daughter Kendra Ringenberg recently established her own law firm in Omaha as Ringengberg and Rattner, specializing in commercial real estate. His second daughter, Stephanie Mattoon Hankins practices law in Omaha as a part in the firm of Baird Holm.

He and his wife of 46 years have five grandchildren between the ages of six months and 14 years old. Outside of his professional life, he enjoys spectator sports including Husker football and Colorado Rockies baseball. He and his wife Cathy enjoy card games, and long walks during the Pandemic. Prior to the Pandemic, they were also avid travelers, having taken cruises and overseas trips. Their first overseas trip was with the Sidney Spanish Club when their daughters were already out of school.


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