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OPINION: A gateway to success

EDITOR'S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members' stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please ...

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members' stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Jacki Miskimins at 996-1140.

When Kevin Holcombe's parents came home several years ago, they were surprised to find a new swinging gate-complete with wheels-on the fence. It was the first day of summer break after his eighth-grade year.

"I've always liked to build things, break things, take them apart and put them back together," he said. (Where did he find the wheels? His older brother's roller blades-though Kevin insists that he made sure they were still safe to use.) It's a curiosity he's had as long as he and his parents can remember, and though Kevin is still in high school, it's already served him well in jump-starting his career.

Two years ago, he learned AutoCAD in a class at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy, and took to it immediately. Not long after, Larry Thompson - a family friend at church and CEO of Vantage Point Solutions - mentioned needing more CAD work done at Vantage Point. Kevin, who was working at Burger King at the time, had skills that fit the bill, and in November 2014, he joined Vantage Point part-time as a CAD assistant.

For Kevin, who ultimately wants to work in architectural engineering, it's great career experience. "I'm given a project, and a deadline, and it's my project to finish using programs that I'll use in the future," he said.

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Working after school and sometimes on weekends, he describes the job as an "amazing opportunity."

"It's been an easy job to fit into. Everyone is easy to get along with, and I can go to them with questions," he said.

It's an experience that is indicative of the possibilities available in Mitchell; something the whole Holcombe family has enjoyed since moving to the community in 2008. Kevin's parents, Wade and Monica, both work at Performance Pet Inc., which manufactures natural, high-end dog and cat food. Wade serves as the plant superintendent and Monica as the financial controller. Their older son, Danton, graduated from Mitchell High School in 2015 and is currently pursuing a degree in pastoral leadership in Colorado Springs.

Originally from Texas, the family moved to Minneapolis in 2005. Within a couple years, the company was looking at relocating some of its operations to either Green Bay, Wisconsin, or to Mitchell; and ultimately, Mitchell was a better fit. Performance Pet moved to town, and the Holcombes came, too.

Discovering the opportunities in Mitchell has been a pleasant surprise for the family.

"Mitchell is the perfect size town - it has so much. When we moved here, it was like, 'Wow it has a college? No, it has two colleges!' There's just a lot for the size of city it is," Monica said.

Wade agrees, noting another benefit of Mitchell's small-town atmosphere: "The town is safe, and there's low crime," he said. "It's been a good place to raise kids; we've been able to give them a lot of freedom, even from younger ages."

"Our sons are very different," Monica said. "They have completely different interests."

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Even so, the family was pleased at the variety of opportunities available to them both. "Not just the classes in school, but the extracurriculars to go with it."

Kevin alone has tried football, wrestling and track, and has also found success in both the Robotics Club and through Skills USA.

"Those are things we never knew anything about. There is a lot of diversity in what's offered," Monica said.

The family also enjoys fishing, playing Frisbee golf at the courses around town and attending the Corn Palace Festival, and are highly active in the Mitchell Wesleyan Church.

The family is also hoping to grow.

"We always had a feeling we might adopt when our kids are older, and now we're seeking to adopt older children out of foster care," Monica said.

The Holcombes are currently in the home study phase of the adoption, which requires-among other things-certain changes to their home. So at long last, the gate Kevin built five years ago has been removed to make way for a higher fence.

He's not too broken up about it; thanks to his natural curiosity and a community full of possibility, he has plenty of other projects to tackle.

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