School board seats already decided

Candidate announcement deadline comes and goes with no takers

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— Voters in the southern half of the county will have fewer races to track on election night this year.

Seats on the South Routt School Board of Education have already been decided.

When the late summer deadline to file a petition came and went without any new challengers, the need for a Nov. 6 school board election came and went, too.

Now new and old board members are ready to get down to business.

Kevin Gneiser of Phippsburg joined the School Board last Wednesday evening. Board vice chair Pete Koler decided not to run again for his District Three seat, so the board set an Oct. 10 filing deadline for anyone interested in the position.

Gneiser, a county employee with the Road and Bridge Department, was the only person to submit a letter of interest and was appointed to Koler's seat.

He said he didn't know what to think when he was first approached about filling the soon-to-be vacated position.

He, however, knew that it was the right thing to do, he said.

"I didn't apply because of any issues," Gneiser said. "I just feel that it's a person's duty to make a commitment to their community in a way like this."

That commitment should be 100 percent, he said, or none at all. Gneiser said he was at first hesitant to take the board seat because the time commitment posed a problem.

"As much time as it takes, I didn't know if I could make the commitment," he said. "But then I realized that it was worth the time and energy."

Oak Creek resident Bill Babcock said he understands concerns about devoting enough time to the school board. He's been doing it for almost 13 years.

"I've talked to different people over the years who think it's just a huge time commitment, but once they actually sit on the board, they realize it's possible to make the commitment," Babcock said.

Babcock won't have to campaign for his seat this time, but he said it doesn't make his responsibility to South Routt voters any less important. He said he is grateful for parents who know they can approach him about issues that concern them.

With three children in high school, he still has a vested interest in the school system.

And that interest will still be there long after they graduate, he added.

"We set the direction we want the school district to," Babcock said. "That affects everyone, not just parents of kids in the schools."

Completion of construction at the elementary, middle and high schools will come as a reward for school board members past and present that had a vision and went for it, he said.

"It will be a nice feeling to see it finished and know that it was a community effort that made it possible," Babcock said.

Board member Hank deGanahl is not up for re-election until 2003, but he said the lack of contested board races this year did not surprise him. He represents a sparsely populated section of the district and finding people who can give the necessary time to the school system is tough, he said.

Despite the lack of petitions this year, he said, people in the school district do not shy away from serving the public.

Gneiser was not the only person appointed to the board this fall.

Dawn Ford of Stagecoach was appointed to former Board President Michael Hendrickson's seat when Hendrickson resigned this summer.

She almost holds a three-fold interest in the South Routt School District. By next fall, she will have children in the elementary, middle and high schools.

Ford, who is also a part-time pharmacist, said she is willing to tackle the new responsibilities that her board commitment will bring. A position on the School Board gives her the opportunity to be a public servant an opportunity that everyone in the community should take once in their lives, she said.

Ford, who has lived in the area for ten years, said she thought it was her time to contribute to the board decisions.

She said she was not surprised that seats on the board were not challenged. It is not so much people being too busy to serve on the board, as people being considerate of other people who are seeking a seat on the board, Ford said.

"If one person is willing to run, then the others who might have done so are saying, 'Next time,'" she said.

Ford said she expects nothing less than great things of her colleagues on the School Board.

"We're enthused and ready to go," she said.

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