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Four candidates seek two Hancock County Board of Education seats

NEW CUMBERLAND — Hancock County voters are being asked to select two representatives to the county Board of Education as part of the June 9 primary election.

Candidates seeking election are Larry Shaw and Seth Cheuvront, both from the Grant District, Ed Fields from the Clay District and Chris Gillette from the Butler District.

Under state code, the school board may not have more than two members from the same district. It already has one member each from the three districts, meaning those elected in June must be from different districts.

Fields, 68, of New Cumberland, is retired from First Energy Corp. with 35 years of experience and served as a trooper with the West Virginia State Police for the six years prior that. He is a 1970 graduate of Oak Glen High School, attended University of Wyoming on an athletic scholarship and graduated from the West Virginia Police Academy.

Fields’ community activities include president of New Cumberland Cemetery Board, New Cumberland Lions Club, New Cumberland VFW, Chester Sons of the American Legion and Oak Glen High School Alumni Association; past member of the New Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department, New Cumberland Fourth of July Committee and Oak Glen Wrestling Boosters. He volunteers for the New Cumberland Food Closet, New Cumberland Christmas Decoration Committee, Oak Glen High School (Football “Chain Gang,” Track, Cross Country, Wrestling), Oak Glen Middle School (Football “Chain Gang”), Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (Timer/Score OVAC Wrestling Tournament). He is a New Cumberland Hall of Fame 2017 inductee for community service and received the OVAC Service Award in 1996 in recognition for (now) more than 30 years of service as a timer/scorer for the OVAC Wrestling Tournament.

Fields served on the school board from 1992 to 1998, when he also served as the board’s representative to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, which oversees all state high school athletics.

A lifelong Hancock County resident whose entire family graduated from the school system, Fields said he is qualified for the position because he previously served on the school board and has continued to be involved in the system. He said he is also a regular citizen with no former experience as an educator who has no hidden agenda and common-sense approach to problem solving, and is a reasonable and rational listener who takes all information into account when making decisions.

Fields said voters should choose him because he is committed to the citizens and youth of Hancock County as evidenced by his continued involvement in the community and school system. He said he has experience as a board member for six years and continues to stay current with school policy.

“Accountability, integrity, fiscal responsibility and a common-sense approach to solving problems will help lead Hancock County’s education system into the future,” Fields said. “I want to help provide our students with the best educational opportunities possible and prepare them to succeed in whatever future vocations they choose. Likewise, our faculty and staff deserve to be supported in strong ways as their roles continue to change through technology and social issues.”

Fields is married to the former Leslie Smith. They have two daughters, Sarah (Mike) Carey and Allyson (Brian) Carr, both Oak Glen graduates, and three grandchildren.

Shaw is seeking to continue as a member of the school board. He is currently filling an unexpired term for the second time. The first term was November 2017 through June 2018 and was again selected by the board members in August 2019.

Responding to the current closure of all schools, Shaw said, “While this is an unprecedented time for everyone, I am thankful and appreciative of the efforts of our teachers to create innovative ways to deliver instruction to their students. I am also impressed with the work that is being done to make sure the students are provided with meals during this time. While there have been a few missteps, I’ve always believed that you don’t fail, until you stop trying.”

As a member of the board, Shaw has supported the adoption of several programs including the free lunch and breakfast program for all students, an online learning program administered by Edmentum and summer enrichment programs Energy Express and The Story Book Cafe. During his tenure, the Facility Use Policy was updated to allow co-curricular or extracurricular groups connected with the school programs to use school facilities to practice for free. The placement of a Prevention Resource Officer at the JDR Career Center was also added during his term. Recently, he and the other board members approved the advance refunding of outstanding bonds, which will save taxpayers approximately $3 million and generate approximately $1.5 million for Hancock County Schools.

Looking ahead, Shaw said, “I am very focused on doing everything I can to provide the best opportunities for our students. CTE (Career and technical education) is an area that we need to expand and grow, including implementing CTE programs in our middle schools. I want to continue to look at ways to make our schools and buses as safe as possible, to deal with student behavior problems, and to support our students and employees who have been impacted by the drug crisis in our communities. We are also going to have to be mindful of the impact the current shut down of our economy will have on budgeting and spending going forward. It may be prudent to keep a healthy balance in case of state funding cuts.”

With the coming changes mandated by House Bill 206, Shaw said he has taken advantage of various training activities offered by the West Virginia School Board Association by attending the Fall 2019 Conference, a webinar, and a regional training for school boards in the Northern Panhandle.

He stated, “The information that has been presented in these trainings will be very helpful as this law is fully implemented.”

Shaw has spent most of the last four decades in education. He was a teacher and coach for 33 years at Oak Glen High School as a physical education teacher and librarian, head wrestling coach and physical fitness coordinator. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Library Science from Concord College, a Master of Science degree in Physical Education from Marshall University, and 45 additional graduate hours from Marshall and WVU.

Shaw thanked the board members for giving him the opportunity to fill an unexpired term for a second time.

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as a member of the Hancock County Board of Education. The experience I have gained as a result of this opportunity has been tremendous. The fact that I was unanimously selected by the board is the best endorsement I could have received.”

Responses were not received from Cheuvront or Gillette.

In addition to the June 9 primary election, West Virginia’s early voting period began Wednesday, with registered voters able to visit their county courthouse through June 6 to cast their ballot in person. Absentee ballots by mail also are available.

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