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It was an evening of historic proportions Tuesday as the first publicly-elected members of the North Adams school board were selected during this year's general election balloting.
Winning four-year terms on the board were incumbent Tim Ehlerding and newcomer Alan Converset in District 1 and first-time candidates Mark Bulmahn and Jim Voglewede Jr. in District 2. Debra Bergman, the District 2 incumbent, finished third in the balloting and will leave the board at the conclusion of her current term.
Elherding led all District 1 (city) candidates with 3,990 votes, and Converset polled 3,413 votes. Bob Thomas finished third with 1,941 and Derek Vrablic trailed the field with 1,112 ballots.
In District 2 (rural) voting, Bulmahn led the way with 2,433 and Voglewede finished second with 2,433. Bergman was third with 2,066 votes, followed by Cassie Hammond with 1,864; Daniel Strickler with 1,460; and David Smith with 689.
For more than four decades, North Adams school board members had been selected either by Decatur City Council or by a combination of trustees from Root, Union and Preble townships. That all changed late last year when the Indiana Department of Education approved a request from the North Adams board to change from the appointment method to the election process for seating board members.
In February of 2011 a local citizens' group submitted a petition seeking an elected school board that contained the names of 1,893 registered voters of the North Adams district to the Adams County Clerk. The school board voted to accept the plan. As part of the proposal approved by locally and by the state, the current five-member board will expand to a seven-member body in January of 2013.
Under the terms spelled out in its state-approved plan, the top vote-getter in District 1 and District 2 during Tuesday's balloting each earned a new four-year term on the board.
Ehlerding and Voglewede secured those seats with their first-place finishes and will begin their four-year stints on the board in January. The seat currently held by Ehlerding will be filled by a vote of school board members. It is expected, but not required, that the second-place finisher in District 1 (Converset) will receive the appointment.
SOUTH ADAMS SCHOOL BOARD
The election of two members of the South Adams Schools' board of education was less complicated on the surface than was the North Adams vote, but a close vote on Tuesday has left the winner of one of those seats still undecided.
After all the ballots were counted Tuesday evening, Amy Orr clung to a three-vote lead over Bud Bearss for an at-large seat on the South Adams school board. According to a spokeswoman for the Adams County Clerk of Courts office, any provisional ballots will be counted at noon on Friday, November 16 in an attempt to determine a clear winner. It is not known at this time how many provisional ballots there may be.
Orr, who currently holds the District 3 seat on the board, polled 1,192 votes to edge newcomers Bearss, who garnered 1,189 votes. Debra Gerber finished third with 546 votes.
Incumbent at-large board member Steve Dobler did not seek re-election.
Two candidates squared off for the District 2 seat on the board, and incumbent Arlene Amstutz held off challenger Cheryl Caffee by a 1,569-1,488 margin.
ADAMS CENTRAL SCHOOL BOARD
Elected without opposition for seats on the Adams Central school board were Brian Tonner, District 1; Steve Bailey, District 5; John Sipe, District 6; and Mike Brown, at-large.