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Citizens say ‘no’ to levy

SOUTH POINT – Walking into the Lawrence County Courthouse Tuesday evening, South Point Superintendent Rick Waggoner was moderately optimistic that the school district bond levy would win.

Wednesday, November 03, 1999

SOUTH POINT – Walking into the Lawrence County Courthouse Tuesday evening, South Point Superintendent Rick Waggoner was moderately optimistic that the school district bond levy would win.

Unfortunately, the issue failed by 300 votes. Area residents voted 1,292 for and 1,592 against the 4.84-mill tax levy, which would have provided about $7.1 million in local funding to an approximate $23.4 million in state building assistance monies.

The funds would have been used to build the district a new high school and a consolidated elementary school, as well as to renovate the current high school into a middle school.

Despite the defeat, though, Waggoner is holding his head up high.

"It could have been worse," he said. "We could have lost by 2,000. You’ve got to look at the positive. Less than 10 percent of the voters made the difference, and two-thirds of the people in South Point didn’t vote."

The South Point School District officials are allowed to try to pass this bond levy two more times within a period of one year before they lose this opportunity for state funding.

The school board will not make the decision to place the levy on the March primary election ballot until after the new year, however, Waggoner said.

"To rerun this levy is a decision the board of education will have to analyze," he said. "We’ll just have to wait and see."

The school superintendent wasn’t the only disappointed person at the courthouse Tuesday night.

Betty Ciesinski, a Burlington resident, anxiously awaited the election results.

"All the kids ought to have new schools," Mrs. Ciesinski said. "The rest of the kids have them, so why shouldn’t South Point. They need them, and Ironton will be next."

Even though the election seemed lost, school supporters kept their fingers crossed until the last votes were counted.

But new schools were not in the cards for South Point this time. It was not for a lack of trying, though, Waggoner said.

"When you prepare for a game, you do the best you can do and that’s all you can do," he said. "We did the best we could do and it was then up to the democratic process."

The uncertainty of the democratic process could have affected the levy’s final results, however, said Fred Clay, who did not succeed in his bid for school board.

"It made it kind of tough – running a board and school election at the same time," Clay said. "It would have been better to run them separately so people would know who would be on there to spend their money."

Other issues that might have influenced the outcome included the recent property tax reappraisals and a limited campaign, Waggoner added.

"People were changing their minds about the levy up to today," he said. "We just didn’t have enough time to inform the people about this opportunity."