Not enough Neosho R-5 School District patrons said “yes” to a $24 million dollar bond issue during Tuesday’s elections to allow school officials to begin planning for a new middle school.
Needing a four-sevenths, or 57.14 percent majority, the measure did receive a majority vote, but that majority was just 52.07 percent.
In Newton County, 1,704, or 52.46 percent, voted “yes,” compared to 1,544 “no” votes. Factoring the McDonald County vote of 66 for the bond issue and 85 voting against, the final tally was 1,770 who voted in favor of the issue, while 1,629 voted against it.
Dan Decker, R-5 superintendent, said the vote means, “As a district, we’ve got to drop back and reflect on things that we did well, and maybe some things that we need to improve on, really focusing on areas that drew well from and areas that we didn’t do so well; and see if we can’t figure out how to reach those people.”
With 4,500 students in the district, Decker said if every student’s parents would vote, they would have more than enough support for the issue. He said trying to get people out to vote is another concern that needs to be addressed.
Decker said, “We tried to run more of a grass-roots campaign this time; we tried to rely on some of the surveys that we had done that let us know that a lot of people get a lot of their news about school from other people versus newspaper or media or those kinds of things; so we really tried to pull on that part. But I think we need to go back and look at it; that was somewhat successful because we did get more ‘yes’ votes than we’ve had in the past couple of elections, but we still are far away from finishing the job. I think we need to take a look at what else we need to add to our campaign to reach different people.”
Decker said Neosho schools will have more growth next year as new students transfer in, and they are at a point where they don’t have room now.
“So I think the big thing for us as a district,” he said, “is to figure out what our next plan of action is to accommodate for those students while we continue to work toward passing another issue.”
Decker said the school board and administration must now step back to see what options are possible, and added, “It may be more mobile classrooms. And if that’s the case, then that’s a step back for Neosho; it’s not a good thing for our kids.”
Decker said passage of the bond issue would have allowed discarding most if not all of the 23 mobile classrooms now utilized by the district.
He said, “We tried to be very honest with the people in the community as we went through and talked about the issue; and tried to put factual numbers out in front of them.”
Decker said when building school footage is at the maximum the only recourse is to bring mobile units in; “Because we don’t have the money as a district to build a building. So our options are pretty limited; so we put more mobiles out and take more kids out of the building, and it’s not a good situation for the school, and it’s kind of a black eye for our community.”
Decker said people and businesses who want to come to the community first look at the schools, and seeing all of the mobile units in the Neosho R-5 School District can be a decision maker for many people.
Neosho city voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the city charter, placing an ethics code within the charter, and also reelected Charles Collinsworth to another three-year term on the city council by a wide margin over challenger Heather Bowers.
Collinsworth said he is more excited about passage of the ethics measure, by a vote of 1,547 “yes” to just 242 “no,” than he is by his reelection.
He said, “I wanted to make sure that was not something that could just be “willy-nilly” put in, taken out, at the whim of every changing council. The city charter is our Constitution, and I wanted that written in stone; and long after me and many other elected officials come and go, that will have a permanent place in our city; and it’s a no-brainer that you want your elected officials to be ethical; I believe they should be held to a higher standard and I am so thankful once again that Neosho voters have chosen wisely with regards to the ethics issue.”
Collingsworth defeated Bowers by a vote of 1,085 to 676. He said Neosho is a great city to live in and serve, and added, “Neosho citizens by-and-large are people with conviction; they like a fair fight and they like honesty.”
Collinsworth said he doesn’t like to make promises he can’t keep, “But the city has run really well the last few years and I wanted it to keep going in that trajectory but I wasn’t going to do any pandering; so you hope the people can see that and I believe the Neosho voters turned out in large numbers and they said, ‘Hey, we like the way things are going, and we want to see that continue.’”
Collinsworth expressed excitement about the future.
He concluded, “I think as far as we’ve come the last three years the next three are going to be even better.”
City of Seneca voters approved a one-half of one percent “public safety” sales tax with 271 voting for the measure and 90 against. Diamond Area Fire Protection District voters said “yes” to increasing the number of members of the board of directors to five by a vote of 122 to 16. Leawood Village residents voted in a sales tax of seven-eighths of one percent by a vote of 87 to 46.
In other contested Newton County races, Richard Eustler received 157 votes to outdistance five other candidates to become the mayor of the city of Granby, with the closest opposition provided by the 131 votes cast for Melinda Stribling. Travis Gamble’s 73 votes to become alderman in Granby’s north ward was more than double the votes cast for the nearest of three other competitors. In Granby’s south ward, Bill J. Cooper received 125 votes to best the 119 ballots cast for Ashley R. Edgemon, and three other candidates.
Sid Oliver gained 63 votes to remain the mayor of the City of Fairview, over the 41 votes cast for Anita Savage. In the vote to elect two trustees in the Village of Redings Mill, both Ronald Pizinger and Jim Brown were elected on the strength of 20 votes, while Susan F. Butler was left out with 15 ballots cast for her.
Terry Clarkson with 599 votes, Eric Allphin with 428 and Bobbi Sherwood with 417 won election to the East Newton R-6 School Board; while the 386 ballots cast for Vicky Rawlins led the other four candidates for the three available three-year terms.
Paula Moorhead was the top vote-getter for the three school board positions decided by patrons of the Seneca R-7 School District with 575, followed by 553 for William “Will” R. Cook, and the 465 votes cast for Ronald “Ron” J. Wallace, with the other two candidates both more than 80 votes behind.
Forty-two Newton County Water Supply District #1 voters in Sub-district #3 selected George Philliber for one three-year term on the board, over Jamie Sartin, who was named on 26 ballots.
Some 18.44 percent of Newton County’s 39,295 registered voters went to the polls Tuesday, as 7,246 votes were cast in the 23 precincts, and by absentee ballot.