Steamboat, Hayden school board elections set


Election 2009

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Election information

Because the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office is doing an all-mail ballot for the November elections, ballots will be sent to all registered voters between Oct. 13 and 16.

The deadline to register in the county is Oct. 5 and can be done at the Clerk and Recorder's office at the Routt County Courthouse.

Absentee ballots must be requested by Oct. 27 at the Clerk and Recorder's office or by downloading a form from the county's Web site at

Unlike in recent years, when many Routt County school board races went uncontested - especially in Hayden and South Routt - a few people seeking seats won't be elected this year.

The races have been set for the Nov. 3 school board elections in Steamboat Springs and Hayden. One of two races in Steamboat will be contested, and two of four in Hayden will pit challengers against one another. The election in South Routt was canceled because its four races are uncontested.

In Hayden, incumbent Vance Fulton, of District B, will face challenger and parent Laurie Hallenbeck. Because Fulton was appointed to the board in 2007, the District B seat will be a two-year term. All others are four-year terms. Challengers in Hayden had to return a petition to the district with signatures from 25 eligible voters who live within the school district boundaries.

Fulton, an engineering technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Steamboat, was born and raised in Hayden and attended the district's schools.

After being on the School Board and experiencing the learning curve, Fulton said he wants to continue contributing. He added that it's also an important job.

"I think everyone should try and serve, whether it's the School Board, town government or whatever," Fulton said. "Sometimes it's a thankless job, but everyone should try to do it. I'm glad there's some folks interested in doing it this year."

Fulton and his wife, Sue, have a 17-year-old son, Ben, a senior at Hayden High School.

Hallenbeck, who's lived in Hayden for 24 years and is a fourth-generation Routt County resident, works in the loan processing department of Mountain Valley Bank. She's never held a public office.

"I just felt like I wanted to get more involved with what's happen at my son's school," Hallenbeck said about her son, Richard, a fourth-grader at Hayden Valley Elementary School who will turn 10 in a couple of weeks. She and her husband, Dennis, also have a daughter, Emily, who graduated from Soroco High School in 2007.

Hallenbeck added that she's concerned with budget issues and wants to make sure people can voice their concerns with the School Board and that its members are receptive to parents and teachers.

Board member Patty Bruchez, who represents District A, didn't return a petition to seek re-election. Tim Frentress, a former Hayden Town Board member - now the Hayden Town Council - will face Darren Zehner, a former transportation director with the Hayden School District for the seat.

Zehner was born and raised in Hayden but left for about 15 years to pursue his career as a commercial airline pilot before returning in 2003. He was transportation director for the district from 2003 to 2004. Zehner was the director of flight operations for TIC before it merged with Keiwit Corp., and he now serves as the district captain overseeing two pilots and TIC's corporate aircraft.

He said his experience in management - he oversaw 500 pilots at Mesaba Airlines, of Eagan, Minn., a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, and 60 pilots with Pace Airlines, of Winston-Salem, N.C. - and handling budgets would be beneficial for the district.

"I think I can bring experience in managing people with the systems and policies the School District has in place," he said. "I think I can direct some of our school administrators to manage people, and also their systems and procedures better.

Zehner said he also wanted to get involved because he and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, two still in district schools. Olivia, 13, is in eighth grade at Hayden Middle School, and Dakota, 15, is a sophomore at the high school. Billy, 18, graduated from the high school last year.

Frentress, a control specialist at the Hayden Station power plant and part-time rancher, last was on the Town Board in 2006 after serving for 12 years. The fourth-generation Hayden resident, who has three sons who went through the district, said he decided to run in part because his three grandchildren, Daylon, 9, Liam, 7, and Grady, 4, are attending its schools.

"I'm interested in the education of the kids here in this valley," Frentress said. "Both my wife (Tena) and I graduated from this school (district) so I have a direct interest. I'd like to see it continue on, to keep the teachers we have and bring up the level of excellence.

Frentress said his familiarity with budgets as a Town Board member would assist him as a School Board member, especially with money anticipated to be tight for the next several years. He is the first cousin of board member Kurt Frentress.

School Board President Brian Hoza, of District E, and board member Kurt Frentress, of District C, will run unopposed. Hoza has served on the board since 2001, and Frentress has been a member since 1995.

Steamboat, South Routt

Anne Muhme, the districts' election official, confirmed this week that petitions returned by Bill Kennedy and Brian Kelly for the District 1 seat had been verified. Candidates for the Steamboat Springs School Board had to return petitions with signatures from 50 eligible county voters.

John DeVincentis, who currently holds the seat, has said he would not seek re-election. He said his nearly 40 years in education, including 21 years as principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School, were enough, but that he would remain active as a volunteer in the schools.

Kennedy spent 39 years as an educator in New York, including as the superintendent of two school districts for six years before retiring. He moved to Steamboat in 2005 and is married to Barb (Keenan) Kennedy, a former Soda Creek Elementary School teacher.

Kelly, who owns BTK with his wife, Judy, was twice a member of the Education Fund Board after serving as the chairman of the half-cent sales tax committee in 1993. He also was named the district's Friend of Education, in 1993 and 1995.

Denise Connelly will run unopposed for her District 3 seat. Elected in 2005, she will be seeking her second term on the School Board after a 29-year career as an English and Spanish teacher, which included 28 years at the middle and high schools in the Steamboat Springs School District.

The South Routt School District canceled its School Board election because none of the four races are contested, said Lori Lombardi, the district's election official. No one turned in a petition to oppose current board members John McCollum, Gena Hange, Willie Smith and Joel Harris.

Hange, who represents District 2 (a portion of Stagecoach), and Smith, who represents District 3 (Phippsburg), were elected to the board in 2005. Harris was appointed to represent District 5 (a portion of Yampa) in April 2007 and was elected later that year to retain the seat. McCollum was appointed to represent District 1 (a portion of Oak Creek) in May 2008.


cards 7 years, 8 months ago

It is too bad that no one is running against Connelly. She needs to go.


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