BELPRE - Belpre voters will have a lot of people to choose from with the election for seats on the Belpre City Schools District Board of Education.
Two incumbents and eight newcomers are vying for three spots on the board of education in the Nov. 3 election. Early voting is under way at the Washington County Courthouse.
The incumbents are Rod Hineman, who has been a member of the board for 10 years, and Wayne Clark, who was appointed in March to the seat left empty by the death of Buzzy Abbott.
"Education has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old," Hineman said. "It has been the center of my life, and I look forward to continuing to provide opportunities for our kids."
Hineman, a former Belpre City Schools teacher, said he wishes to continue to serve on the board to help the children in the community.
"I think I'm a reasoned voice on the board," he said.
Wayne Clark (incumbent), 813 Westview Drive, Belpre.
Linda S. Copeland, 1200 Washington Blvd., Belpre.
Rod Hineman (incumbent), 712 Warren Ave., Belpre.
Daniel E. Law, 2107 Pride Ave., Belpre.
Rita Lowe, 315 Maple St., Belpre.
Loretta Matheny, 705 Barclay St., Lot 17, Belpre.
Fred Meredith, 2013 Rockland Ave., Belpre.
Leonard L. Wiggins II, 852 Millbranch Road, Belpre.
Source: Washington County Board of Elections.
Clark, a math teacher at Parkersburg High School, spent 20 years on a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine before he received his mathematics degree and became a teacher.
"I think the Belpre Board of Education needs to make huge increases in academic standards, and I want to help," he said.
Clark said he wants to help make the district more financially viable and one way is to look into how teachers are reimbursed for continuing education classes.
"I am looking into how much we have spent in the last five years on further education for teachers and how many of them have left," Clark said. "It is a union issue and I am a teacher and a union man, but I think the district pays too much."
Because of financial and academic issues, Clark said he understands why the public seems to distrust the school district administration.
"I can understand why the public does not trust the administration with money and why levy issues continue to fail," he said. "I would like to help fix the district."
The newcomers to the election are Leonard Wiggins, Loretta Matheny, Daniel Law, Rita Lowe, Fred Meredith, Linda Copeland, Steven Richardson and Marjean Yullman.
Wiggins, the tax commissioner for the city of Belpre, decided to throw his hat in the ring when Abbott passed away.
"I just want to make sure the kids have the best opportunities for education," Wiggins said. "I would also like to see the board of education become strong."
He also works as a soccer coach, served in the Army Reserves and has a daughter in first grade in the district.
"I'm going to be here at least another 12 years, and I want to make the district everything it can be," he said.
Matheny, who has two grandchildren in the school system, said she is running because she thinks the board needs a change.
"The kids need an education, and I think the board may have lost its focus," she said. "I have always talked about joining the school board and now the opportunity has come up."
Law, a 1991 graduate of Belpre High School, said he has coached peewee sports for the past nine years and wants to make the schools a better place for the students.
"With my coaching I'm in the schools almost every night, and I think someone needs to step up and make a difference," Law said. "I would like to be that person."
He said he does not have any exact ideas on how to help the district at the moment.
"I think I just need to get in there and see how things are running and what needs to be done before I go making ideas," he said. "I really think we need some new blood in the district."
Meredith, Copeland, Richardson, Lowe and Yullman could not be reached for comment.