Thursday, April 24, 2014

School board taps new ORC appointee

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 6/12/2013

A production manager for a local business will succeed former sheriff Jeff Curry on the Ottawa Recreation Commission board.

Ottawa school board members voted 6-0 to appoint Russ Wilson to fill Curry’s vacated term on the recreation board.

A production manager for a local business will succeed former sheriff Jeff Curry on the Ottawa Recreation Commission board.

Ottawa school board members voted 6-0 to appoint Russ Wilson to fill Curry’s vacated term on the recreation board.

Curry had just begun a four-year term, Susan Ward, school board president, said Monday night.

“This would basically be a four-year appointment,” she said.

Wilson, production manager for Midwest Cabinet Co. Inc., 1674 N. Industrial Ave., Ottawa, has lived in the community for 27 years, he said. He and his wife, Tori Wilson, have two children.

“I’m an empty-nester, so I have the time to serve, and I want to give my time to the community,” Wilson said. “Both of our kids grew up in the community.”

Wilson thought he could quickly familiarize himself with the board’s functions and programs and that he had a good working knowledge of budgets, he said.

“I’m a quick study, and I think I could bring some fresh ideas to the board,” Wilson said.

Wilson, 45, made an unsuccessful run for the school board in April, though he garnered nearly 400 votes and was in the thick of the race. He currently is a member of the Habitat for Humanity of Franklin County board.

The five-member ORC board consists of two appointees from the school district, two appointees from the City of Ottawa and a fifth, at-large member who is selected by the other four board members.

School board members said they liked that Wilson could bring fresh ideas to the board. They chose him over former longtime ORC board member Tony De La Torre and Marge Stevens. De La Torre recently wrapped up a city-appointed term on the ORC board, and Stevens has been the Ottawa school board’s liaison with the ORC board for the past eight years.

Stevens, a former teacher who said she had more than 40 years of experience in education, did not seek re-election to the school board in April.

In explaining her desire to serve on the recreation commission board, Stevens noted ORC had expanded its offerings — such as new hunter safety courses — beyond the traditional sports programs, and that her background in education and familiarity with ORC would serve her well if selected. She recused herself from voting on the appointment.

De La Torre noted both city appointees to the ORC board are new, and the school board’s other appointee — Linda Spencer — would not be eligible to serve another stint on the board when her term expires next year.

“With the lack of experience on the board, which is beginning to work on this year’s budget, I think it’s important that you appoint someone with experience to this position,” De La Torre said.

De La Torre, who has served 12 years on the board in two different stretches, said he had the experience and desire to serve.

Board appointments are for four years, with a board member not eligible to serve more than two consecutive terms.

Wilson is set to join Spencer, city appointees Richard Burgoon and Dennis Tharp and at-large member and chairman Dan Stepp on the board.

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