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Two school board incumbents unseated

| May 5, 2006 12:00 AM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Two staunch supporters for saving the former Libby High School on Tuesday unseated two current Libby School Board members.

Lee Disney and Gela Rae Koehler, both members of Friends of the Historic Libby High School, won with 573 and 393 votes.

With 19 percent of the school districts 4,604 voters casting ballots, incumbents John Herrmann and Gerald Frament lost their seats. Herrmann had 317 votes and Frament, 307.

"It's nice to get new blood in," added Herrmann, a writer and retired educator who served on the board for 5 1/2 years.

"The people had the right to speak and they did," added Frament, a 61-year-old retired computer systems analyst/manager who served for 3 years.

Incumbent Melanie Wood got the third seat; she was re-elected to the seven-member board with 470 votes.

"I'm honored to have been chosen again to serve Libby's children through our schools," said the 56-year-old homemaker, who has served 8 years on the board. "I'm really going to miss John and Jerry. They're really great guys and very supportive."

As for the winners, Disney, 51, believes voters chose him because they trust his decisions.

"I make the best decision with the facts I have and if someone comes to me with a different set of facts, I'm certainly willing to consider it," said Disney, owner of HooDoo Mountain Pellets and HooDoo Mountain Furnaces Inc. in Libby.

Disney, who served on the school board from 1993 to 2001, last fall sued the district after trustees voted to demolish the old school. Disney claimed the board failed to comply with state law in disposing with public property.

The school board in March voted unanimously to allow a Spokane developer to get an appraisal for setting the sale price on the old high school. Conover Bond Development hopes to remodel the 90-year-old brick building for professional and government offices.

Disney favors the concept.

"We've got the possibility of these guys bringing in $2 million to upgrade the building," he said. "That's good for the community. No one loses in our community on this."

Koehler, 70, a retired instructional aide, also was pleased with the election's outcome.

"I hope I can listen and learn to make a difference," Koehler said. "I appreciate the support of the community."

Tracy Comeau, 42, owner of H & R Block franchise in Libby and Bonners Ferry, and Bruce Sickler, 44, owner of Sickler Drywall & Paint, had 204 and 287 votes.