Handywomen blur line between work and play

Staff writer

No labor law says good old-fashioned hard work has to be boring, and it isn’t for two county women who blur the lines between work and play.

Former Centre special education teacher and volleyball coach Yvonne Burhoop and Kansas Department of Transportation employee Sherri Pankratz go way back.

Burhoop used to coach Pankratz in volleyball. Now the handywoman duo does remodeling projects together, and there is no shortage of jocular banter on the job.

“I was 16 when Yvonne started coaching volleyball,” Pankratz said while caulking a window. “Yvonne, this caulk is nasty stuff; anyway, I thought she was stupid then — she didn’t letter me — and when my oldest daughter told me she liked Yvonne as a coach, I told her she was stupid, too.”

Burhoop was in earshot, measuring and marking up siding to cut. She chuckled, walked over, and said, “I don’t know if the coach before me just lettered everybody or what, but Sherri didn’t fulfill the lettering requirements. Back then, kids like Sherri may not have liked me, but they learned real fast I expected a lot out of them.”

Call it tough love.

Pankratz wrinkled her nose.

“Nah,” she said. “Yvonne was just denying my talent.”

Burhoop cannot force Pankratz to run sprints or perform other forms of physical disciplinary torment anymore. She just chuckled and told her rascally friend to get back to work.

“Yvonne tries to tell me what to do, but she can’t fire me; I’ll just leave,” Pankratz said. “But when all you do at your normal job all day is push a pencil, outdoor physical work is a great stress reliever.”

The women are about finished with a six-week remodel on N. Cedar St. for homeowner Lecricia Coss, who has cleaned Burhoop’s home for 28 years and said she knew Burhoop had a knack for odd job problem solving.

“Those girls are funny,” Coss said. “They’ll be telling me something that happened with the house and Sherri will pop off and say, ‘That’s Yvonne’s fault,’ then something else will come up and Yvonne will say, ‘Now, that one is Sherri’s fault.’ Sometimes I’ll just listen to them. They’re great workers and great friends. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”

Burhoop loves working with her hands. She has done wood refinishing and stained glass projects for years, and assisted with wood shop classes while at Centre.

“I’m not a contractor, I just like to keep busy,” Burhoop said. “I’m like my dad. I like to work, and if something needs to be done, I do it.”

Coss decided to sell her Lincolnville home and move to her smaller Marion property in an effort to downsize after a renter had “trashed the place.”

Coss’s punch-list of repairs included replacing carpet, repairing Sheetrock, replacing insulation, tearing off the roof and shingling it, building a front porch, putting up new siding, and interior and exterior painting.

“If I can’t figure out a problem, I just ask for help,” Burhoop said. “I told Sherri I had a number of things. I said ‘Can you, can you, can you?’ and she said, ‘Yes, yes, yes, let’s get ‘er done.’”

Pankratz helped “rock out the Sheetrock,” roof the house, and do a number things. Burhoop also called on area carpenter Kacey Nickel for roofing and front porch assistance.

Pankratz personalizes projects she works on with Burhoop.

“I write our initials and messages on the backs of boards or I like to find a coin with 2016 on it to put under the floor,” Pankratz said. “I think I wrote ‘We’re cool’ on the back of this siding and then Yvonne came along and cut our initials in half.”

Burhoop smiled and said, “It had to be trimmed.”

The dynamic duo should complete Coss’s project soon.

“We transformed this home,” Burhoop said. “I think Lecricia and the neighbors are very tickled. I always love seeing smiles on people’s faces when we finish a project.”

Last modified Aug. 17, 2016

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