The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Snyder County

May 1, 2014

Judge may have to pick new Midd-West board member

MIDDLEBURG — A Snyder County Court of Common Pleas judge may decide who will fill the vacant seat on the Midd-West school board after the eight directors were unable to agree on one of three candidates they interviewed Thursday night.

While a crowd of about 35 people looked on, the board separately interviewed candidates Christopher Nesbit, Tara L. Dively and James W. Downey for about 20 minutes each about their backgrounds, vision for the district and reason for wanting to serve. Each was vying to fill Scott Norman’s vacant seat through November 2015.

When it was over, votes were cast for each candidate, and all failed to receive a majority of votes.

Nesbit, a Beavertown sales representative and father of four who received 1,100 write-in votes for a board seat last fall, got three supporting votes from directors Nancy Kroh, Corey Smith and Jeremy Tittle. Casting opposing votes were board President Victor Abate and directors Ronald Hoffman, Shawn Sassaman, Sherryl Wagner and Ronald Wilson.

That failed vote was followed by the nomination for Downey, a retired McClure resident who worked for20 years in education as a teacher and administrator at a private school.

Downey received four votes from Abate, Hoffman, Wagner and Wilson, but also failed to garner a majority vote.

Dively, a Middlecreek Township resident, mother of two and project director at Hempfield Behavioral Health, received three votes in her favor from Kroh, Smith and Tittle.

Some directors appeared visibly disappointed by the lack of consensus and unsure of what to do next.

The deadline for the board to appoint a new director was Thursday. Someone suggested reopening the application process, prompting Tittle to interject.

“I doubt we’ll get more,” he said, suggesting instead that the board allow the court to appoint a new member.

“Let the court decide,” Tittle said.

Abate said they will allow the deadline to lapse and leave the decision up to the court.

He declined to talk about his vote, but two directors did open up.

“I came into it open-minded,” Wagner said. “All three candidates were very qualified.”

Hoffman said his choice was for Downey based on his interview and resume.

“I was impressed,” he said.

Former Midd-West board director Ross Snook had applied for the position, but failed to show up for the public interview. The seat being filled was vacated in late March by Norman, who was elected in November but stepped down citing concerns about the lack of leadership on the board and “dirty tactics and politics” of some members.

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