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Early returns are in favor of school bond

May 12, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A proposed $19 million school bond issue which would be used to help build a second high school in Jefferson County was sailing to victory Tuesday night, according to incomplete, unofficial results.

With 20 of 29 precincts reporting, 3,434 county residents, or nearly 70 percent, had voted for the bond issue and 1,532 people, or roughly 30 percent, had voted against it, according to returns.

The bond issue needed a simple majority to pass.

Jefferson County Schools officials were all smiles Tuesday night as they watched the returns come in at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

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"We are profoundly grateful to the voters of Jefferson County," Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said.

A lot was at stake with the bond issue.

The state had awarded $25 million to help build the high school, but school officials would have had to return the money if the bond failed.

Also, the 57 acres at the Huntfield development where the school is to be built would have had to be returned to the Huntfield developers if the bond failed, school officials said.

With the passage of the bond, $19 million which was awarded by the state School Building Authority should be released to the school system soon, Nichols said.

That money will be used on architectural work for the high school, Nichols said.

School officials were hoping the votes in favor of the bond would exceed 70 percent, Jefferson County Board of Education member Cheryl Huff said. Huff said school officials worked hard to show the public the need for the bond through meetings with Kiwanis clubs, church groups and parent teacher organizations.

Supporters of the bond took out large ads in area newspapers to answer questions about the proposal and explain its impact.

In one of the ads, bond supporters tried to show what the cost of the bond would be to parents, compared with other items they purchase for their children.

At current interest rates, the bond will cost a typical homeowner with a $100,000 home about $50 a year, one of the ads said.

In comparison, a Sony PlayStation and four games costs about $380, the ad said.

The Jefferson County Commission backed a proclamation in support of the bond, although there was debate over the action.

At the time, Commissioner James G. Knode said each of the commissioners is free to support the bond themselves, but he questioned whether the commission should be "dictating to people" how they should vote.

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