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Trustees vote to keep Fegler on Shoshoni school board

Dec 12, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Teffany Fegler will keep her seat on the Fremont County School District 24 Board of Education after trustees voted to appoint her to replace a board member who was recently removed from office.

The decision followed a 45-minute executive session at the special board meeting Tuesday. The vote was 4-2 with trustees Emily Jarvis and Wedge Fike voting against Fegler's appointment.

"I basically felt the vote of the community was the big factor that played into my decision," Fike said later. "I felt Garry Smith was a very qualified candidate, and that's why I voted for him."

Fike said the community elected him, and he reports to the community.

"The community wanted Garry Smith," he added.

Jarvis could not be reached for comment by press time.

Last month, Sean Walker was removed from the Shoshoni school board after an investigation into his residency revealed he no longer lived in the area and had not for some time.

When word spread about Walker's removal, some in the community felt the candidate who received the fourth highest number of votes in the Nov. 6 election, Garry Smith, should be appointed to the vacant seat. Smith collected 265 votes in the election, which was seven fewer than Fike.

Fegler lost re-election. Those voted in were incumbent Kelly Gardner and newcomers Jarvis and Fike.

Eight candidates filed for the three open seats on the Shoshoni board. Jarvis was the top vote getter, followed by Gardner, Fike, Smith, Fegler, Becky Zent, incumbent Tracy Spence and Monica Gabriel.

The board said at its meeting Nov. 19 that it would open up the candidate pool by asking for letters of interest, and those individuals would be interviewed at the special meeting Dec. 11.

Fike said the community thought the board had already decided to appoint Fegler before Tuesday's meeting.

"I know that's how the community felt, feels," Fike said.

Those who submitted a letter of interest were Fegler, Smith, Gabriel, Zent and Charlie Dewitt.

Tuesday's interviews were conducted in open session in the boardroom while the other candidates remained in a separate room.

Gabriel informed the board at the start of her interview that she revoked her letter of interest. She said as a community member, she submitted a petition with 170 signatures requesting an electoral vote, which would be Smith.

"I do not want the position," Gabriel said.

Board chairman Kevin Smith asked the other candidates to join the group so that he could speak about the "misconception of the fourth top vote getter" suggestion.

Trustee Shawn Steffen said voters were asked to pick three candidates. He said another 736 votes would have been added to the mix had the ballot had four open seats.

"The community has spoken," Gabriel said, adding Smith collected the next highest number of votes. "As a community, that's where our tallies went. ... Don't make it be such a heated and volatile situation. ... I just think it's turned into too big of thing."

Gabriel questioned the fairness in having the board decide who should be appointed.

"We are going to do this process whether you like it or not," Kevin Smith responded.

Roughly 17 attendees listened as Garry Smith, Fegler and Dewitt answered three questions posed by the board.

When it came time for Zent's interview, Fike informed trustees that Zent was at a doctor's appointment with her husband and asked if he could read a letter she gave him in the event she couldn't attend the meeting.

At first Kevin Smith told Fike no because the other candidates didn't have the same opportunity.

"Everybody had a chance to talk and this is her way of talking," Fike responded.

After a quick discussion, trustees opted to wait for Zent to arrive. About five minutes later, the board allowed Fike to read Zent's letter.

Reading from the piece of paper, Fike said Zent requested her name be withdrawn. She also supported the efforts in seeing Garry Smith be appointed.

Fegler will resume her duties at the next board meeting Dec. 17. The two-year term will be up in the 2014 election.

During her interview Tuesday, Fegler said students are the future and they need to be prepared to lead.

"There's only one issue for me, and that's the kids," Fegler said. "Everything's driven by that."

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