Some new faces elected to area boards of education

A number of new faces will take seats on local boards of education in January.

Among them are Whipple resident Lloyd Booth and Lowell resident Stephanie Lang, who were elected to the Fort Frye Local Board of Education Tuesday along with incumbent board President Johnna Zalmanek, according to final, unofficial results from the Washington County Board of Elections.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about it,” said Booth, 66, a retired salesman making his second run for office after pursuing a township trustee position years ago. “I hope to bring my experience to the board and open up a line of communication that the public doesn’t have.”

Lang was the top vote-getter in the race, with 901, followed by Zalmanek with 766 and Booth with 694. That left David White – who but for a few months in the 1980s has served on the board for 37 years – the odd man out in the four-person race.

“That happens,” he said when told of the results. “I’ve served the district for 37 years with honor and dignity, and I guess the people didn’t think I could do it anymore.”

White said he has faith in district Superintendent Stephanie Starcher and incoming Treasurer Stacy Bolden and wishes the board well.

“I just wish them all the best, and I’ll be there to help them any way I can,” White said.

In the Warren Local school district, board members Bob Crum and Bob Allen were re-elected with 1,447 and 1,368 votes, respectively. Willie Holbert, who served on the board for 11 years before stepping down in 2009, earned the third and final seat with 1,355 votes. Former district treasurer Sidney Brackenridge lost his bid for a second term on the board, garnering 1,200 votes.

“That’s the people’s decision, so that’s the way it goes,” Brackenridge said.

Holbert said his two primary areas of focus upon returning to the board would be the renewal of a $1.75 million-a-year emergency operating levy next year and getting students to return to the district. Holbert blames the loss of a number of students on the board’s decision to eliminate high school busing in a cost-saving move two years ago. He’s been critical of that and other board decisions but said he believes he will be able to work with the returning board members.

“We just need to move forward and put the past behind us,” he said.

Incumbent Fred Meredith led all candidates for the Belpre City Board of Education with 704 votes. The other two seats went to current Belpre City Councilman Bob Wallace, 590 votes, and incumbent board President Leonard Wiggins II, 589. Former board member Bobbi Simmons received 458 votes.

“I’m glad to see the citizens of Belpre had enough faith in me to (elect) me to the board,” said Wallace, who retired in 1993 as principal of Belpre High School and served two previous terms on the board.

Wallace said he thought Simmons would have been a good addition to the board as well.

“Too bad there weren’t four spots open,” he said.

There will be one new member on the Wolf Creek Local Board of Education as Waterford resident Cheryl McCutcheon received 423 votes. Incumbent Roger Doak claimed the other open seat on the board with 514 votes, while fellow board member Joe Campbell came in third with 301.

“I’m just extremely happy,” said McCutcheon, an office manager for a family construction business and mother of a teacher in the district. “I’m hoping to do something good for everybody.”

There will be three new members on the Frontier Local Board of Education, with no incumbents seeking re-election, but exactly who they are may not be settled for a while.

It’s likely Todd Collins, of Newport, will take one of the seats, earning 788 votes. Coming in second on election night was Lawrence Township resident Gale DePuy II, with 754, just 16 votes more than Kurt Bohlen, also of Lawrence Township. And just five votes separated Bohlen from former board member Daryl Bowersock.

Provisional ballot totals weren’t going to be released until this morning, but a recount seems a likely possibility given the margin between Bowersock and Bohlen. Once provisional ballots are counted, a recount would be automatically triggered if the difference between the two is within one half of 1 percent of the total ballots cast.

“It’s a really tight race, and they’re all a bunch of really good people and knowledgeable,” Collins said.