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Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015

Seats change for three of the four local school boards

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Darrell Wiatt
Longtime educator Darrell Wiatt was elected to replace incumbent Jacquelyn Simpson as the Russell Township representative on the North Putnam School Board.

Wiatt is among a number of new board members that were elected on Tuesday night.

Also new to the North Putnam School Board are Jill Summerlot, who ran uncontested in Franklin Township, and James Bowling, who was elected in Monroe Township over Dustin Osborn.

In the South Putnam corporation, Anthony Heavin and Angie Nichols will begin serving in January.

Heavin was elected in the at-large contest, defeating Trisha Shrader, and Nichols was elected to the Washington Township seat, defeating Tim McKean.

New members on the Cloverdale School Board include Christopher Mann and Rob Schroer.

Mann and Schroer, along with incumbent Donna Fidler, were elected to represent Cloverdale Township, defeating Chris Kaufman and Tim Powell.

Bobbie Nees retains her spot as the Jackson Township representative.

Wiatt (218 votes, 70 percent) is the only school board member to unseat a contesting incumbent.

"I'm honored and humbled that I get this opportunity to serve as the Russell Township representative," Wiatt said. "Sometimes it's hard to beat incumbents, and I think that Jacquelyn Simpson has done a good job."

Wiatt was an educator in the North Putnam district for 39 years until his retirement in 2011.

"I thought with my experiences I could make some improvements," Wiatt said. "Nobody likes to see cuts, but I feel like I can do it where it's not going to hurt the kids."

He also stressed the importance of working to improve the school grades, which, outside of the high school, were among the lowest in the county.

Wiatt, Summerlot (454 votes) and Bowling (296 votes, 54.7 percent) will join Mark Hoke (3,075 votes), re-elected to the at-large seat on Tuesday, Travis Lambermont, Ollie Haste and John Hays on the North Putnam board.

All the newly-elected members said they planned to attend the November and December school board meetings.

Hoke's new term begins in 2014.

"I'd just like to even the playing field for our students," Summerlot said. "I decided it was time that maybe we made some changes with our school board. There have been some issues that have been going on. I felt that, as a parent, it was time to make the move (to run)."

Summerlot, a mother of three, including two current NPHS students (Kelsey, 17, junior and Riley, 15, sophomore), is a special education parent advocate who also serves as vice president of the North Putnam Band Boosters.

"We need to move forward and make sure all of our kids have access to our curriculum; all of our kids have access to a safe school and that they are welcomed in our school."

Bowling said he is excited to take on a leadership role within the community, but will take a backset on the board initially.

"I've got to go to a couple meetings and get my bearings before I can see what needs to be done," Bowling said. "They need some changes up there."

Bowling has two children currently enrolled at North Putnam -- Raegan, a freshman, and Christian Pingleton, a seventh-grader.

The South Putnam board will gain a new member with experience in education as well. Angie Nichols (1,634 votes, 65.4 percent) is a former secretary at Reelsville Elementary, which closed this past year.

The South Putnam at-large winner, Heavin, is a South Putnam graduate who went on to attend DePauw University.

He said he hopes to help the corporation and its administrators continue down the path that helped raise him.

"(My wife and I) feel that there were a lot of teachers, administrators and community members that stepped up and made us who we are today," Heavin said. "It takes a village to raise a child, not just parents or teachers, but community members and volunteer."

Heavin (1,676 votes, 66 percent) will begin serving in 2014 when Nancy Wells' term is up.

Nichols and Heavin will join Steve Cash (2,129 votes), re-elected on Tuesday to the Marion Township seat, Wesley Hacker and David Bombei on the South Putnam board.

"We still need some experience to carry (the board) on and to help train the new people," Cash said. "There are always different areas that we need to improve on and stay on top of the new innovations in education and try to deal with what the state has imposed on us."

Cash said he is familiar with the new members and is excited to have them join.

"I think we'll be OK. (Electing Nichols) keeps a lady on the board, who will keep everyone on their toes," Cash said. "Anthony is sharp and he's a doctor. He'll help us in an education fashion and he will give us intelligent and well-thought-out answers on what we need to do."

The Cloverdale board is getting an infusion of new members as well.

Cloverdale Township representatives Dave Brinkman and Linda Mann did not seek re-election, but now there is a new Mann on the board.

Christopher Mann (1,296 votes) has three children in the school system and said he hopes to contribute to his community the best he can.

"I really hope to have outstanding academic success for all our students and to have a very well-run school," Christopher Mann said. "(My goals) are just to keep Cloverdale as a top-notch school with outstanding academics, good fiscal management and accountability to our taxpayers."

Rob Schroer (1,174 votes) will join Christopher Mann on the board and said he felt, as a life-long Cloverdale resident, he could give back to the school.

I really didn't have an agenda," Schroer said. "I thought I could do the school good, so I decided to run for (the board)."

Christopher Mann, Schroer, Fidler (1,559 votes) and Nees (1,230 votes) will begin their terms in January, joining sitting board members Duane Huge, Pamelia Hepfer and Brian Asbury.

Candidates in Cloverdale also received votes in Owen County.

All school board candidates run as non-partisan.

The North Putnam School Board holds regular meetings on the third Thursday each month.

The South Putnam School Board holds regular meetings on third Monday each month.

The Cloverdale School Board holds regular meetings on the second Monday each month.

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