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Resident accuses Phares of buying levy votes

Superintendent emphatically denies charge made during meeting

September 27, 2012
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

A woman attending the Randolph County Schools bond call meeting in Harman Wednesday accused the superintendent of schools of promising to pay county school employees if they voted for the levy in November 2010.

Speaking to Dr. James Phares during his presentation, the woman said she was told he offered $500 to each employee if they voted to pass the $14 million excess levy. The woman, who refused to provide her name to The Inter-Mountain, was later identified by school personnel as Janie Ours.

"I was told you promised employees $500 each if they voted for the levy," Ours said. "After taxes, the employees got nothing (of the $500)."

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares discusses the proposed Harman School additions and improvements Wednesday during a Randolph County Schools bond call meeting.

"That is not true," Phares said emphatically, then began to point to each school employee, one by one, gathered in the audience.

"Did I offer you $500 if you voted for the levy?" Phares asked each employee.

Each person Phares asked answered "no" and shook their heads.

Phares, who seemed visibly upset by the accusation, told those gathered that he would never offer people money for their votes.

"The accusation is a lie," Phares said.

The superintendent then told Ours to speak with The Inter-Mountain representative present and give her name and her comments.

"I want this in the paper," Phares said.

Earlier in the meeting, Ours said that people from Pocahontas and Marion counties, where Phares had previously been superintendent of schools, were complaining about him and accusing him of spending all of their tax money. Ours said the counties were glad to be rid of him.

Phares responded that people in the counties may hold differing opinions about his work there.

Also during the meeting, Alpena resident Terry Ogden asked about a list of board payments that appeared in the Sept. 28, 2011, issue of The Inter-Mountain.

"You paid the Greenbrier Hotel $870, Old Brick Playhouse $3,150, United Way $660 and Beverly Historic Commission $425," Ogden said. "I think our money should be spent on education, not wasted."

Phares told Ogden the board receives funds from Title 6 that are designated specifically for professional development and explained there are federal mandates on how the schools use those funds.

He also said the Old Brick Playhouse provides educational services for county schools.

Phares said he was not exactly sure what the specific funds were paid to the Greenbrier Hotel for, but he said no school employees stayed at the Greenbrier Hotel.

Ogden later told The Inter-Mountain that he was satisfied with Phares's answers, but he still wondered about tthe Greenbrier Hotel bill.

The total amount of proposed funds for Harman School additions and upgrades is $4,512,877. Improvements would include wall and ceiling finishes, HVAC, lighting, wiring, fire alarm, communication system, new restrooms, kitchen and cafeteria, sprinkler system, asbestos abatement, sitework grading and a new music room.

The total community schools projects cost, including the cost of bond issuance is $22,722,838. The bond call is for $13,500,000 with a state School Building Authority request for $9, 222,838. The SBA grant and the bond call will be contingent upon one another.

Combining the cost of the bond call and the existing levy, the average cost to the taxpayer for a $100,000 home and $50,000 worth of personal property is $367.60 per year, which is about $1.10 per day.

Information on the costs of all improvements and a tax calculator are available at www.informationonthebondcall.com.

Contact Beth Christian Broschart by email at bbroschart@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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