Mid-Prairie school board fills 2 positions

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


The Mid-Prairie school board filled two positions Monday, when Jerry Kahler and Emily Uhl both took the oath of office.

Uhl won a special election Aug. 28, defeating former board member Randy Billups. Uhl had been appointed to the board, following the resignation of longtime board member and vice president George Schaefer.

But Billups filed a petition forcing a special election for the position. Uhl won the vote, 223-123.

After the election, longtime board member Jim Hussey announced he would retire from the board effective with the first meeting in September. To spare the district another election, the board agreed to appoint a new member to fill Hussey?s open position. Three candidates expressed interest in the seat: Kahler, Kristy Newton and Billups.

When board president Jeremy Pickard asked if those candidates were still interested in the position, Billups said he was withdrawing his candidacy. Both Kahler and Newton were offered an opportunity to introduce themselves and explain their interest in the board position.

Newton, a neonatal nurse practioner, said her experience in working on the school?s volunteer policy had inspired her to apply for the school board. ?I enjoyed serving on the committee and was impressed with the way the district could come together to develop policy. I want to continue to make our district great,? she said.

In his statement, Kahler, who is the pastor at Kalona United Methodist Church, said that ?opinions matter, one person can make a difference ? and a person?s views should be expressed ?even if they are not acted upon.?

?I want to be a vocal supporter of the Mid-Prairie Schools. I love the community and I want to be a voice to them and for them,? he said.

Kahler was approved unanimously. His term will end in 2019. Mid-Prairie Business Manager Jeff Swartzentruber said a petition could be filed for a special election within 30 days. If an election were called, it would likely take place in December, he said.

After seating the new board members, it was voted to retain Pickard as president and Marianne Schlabach as vice president.

During time allotted for public comment, Billups spoke to the board regarding hearsay about his previous candidacy for a board position. Billups said he wanted to clarify some things. He said he did not have a secret agenda, he did not want to return the elementary schools to their previous configuration and that some members of the community did not feel they could get a fair hearing from the board.