Extra Credit

Library to collect yard signs after election

The Kanawha County Public Library announced today that each local branch will collect and recycle campaign yard signs used to promote the library’s funding levy.

Starting Wednesday, “Loving My Library” signs can be dropped off in designated areas at each Kanawha County branch where they will be stored for reuse or be recycled.

Library supporters have distributed thousands of yard signs and brochures around the county to raise awareness for the levy, which will return the system to full funding status should it pass.

Going into today’s election, library officials are “cautiously optimistic” about the levy passing and thankful for the support of patrons through the years.

“We greatly appreciate all of the people in Kanawha County who have supported the library levy by putting signs in their yards and neighborhoods,” said Alan Engelbert, library director.

If the levy passes, annual property taxes in Kanawha County will increase by about $16 dollars for residents with homes and cars with assessed values of $100,000 and $15,000, respectively. Should voters turn down the levy, the library will face a budget shortfall of about $3 million and likely will close several branches.

The levy is on the back of the ballot with a detailed description of what it is funding.

Polls are open until 7:30 p.m.

Library levy campaign underway

The Loving My Library campaign will hand out 1,000 yard signs and 10,000 brochures before the levy vote in November.
The Loving My Library campaign will hand out 1,000 yard signs and 10,000 brochures before the levy vote in November.

Kanawha County Library supporters quietly started a campaign last week they hope will encourage voters to approve a levy that will help fund the library system.

The vote isn’t until November 4, but supporters are confident their early start will help secure a victory and return the library to full funding.

This weekend, yard signs were placed around the county. At first sight, they may not make much sense, but they redirect to the “Loving My Library” website, which has plenty of information about the levy and its impact on voters.

Loving My Library was started by the Vote Yes for Libraries Committee and has been labeled a grassroots movement by supporters. It focuses on people sharing their stories about the library through word-of-mouth, video or social media. It’s a stark contrast to campaigning efforts for last year’s failed library levy, which saw school board member Pete Thaw actively campaigning against it even though the levy would have generated additional support for schools. The levy was overwhelmingly defeated in a special election.

This time, the library owns the message. The levy, while supported by the Kanawaha County Board of Education, will only benefit the library. George Manahan, the Loving My Library campaign manager, is confident it will be successful and thinks the group’s message will connect with voters whether they use library resources or not.

It may prove difficult to convince voters to approve a new tax, but the levy is actually quite modest. Should the levy pass, annual property taxes will increase about $16 for someone who owns a home and vehicle with assessed values of $100,000 and $15,000, respectively. In total, the levy will generate $3 million in annual support and is set to bring in about $18 million over the length of the tax.

If it doesn’t pass, branches could be closed, staff could be laid off and library hours could be cut.

The campaign is giving out free resources and is accepting donations. Visit www.lovingmylibrary.com for more information about the campaign, the levy and how to become involved.

School board election 2014

An off-year primary election seldom stirs up the interest a presidential election does — school board elections even more so.

But, the school board election is one of the most important ones a voter can participate in according to Pete Thaw, a five-term member of the Kanawha County Board of Education and its current president.

“The board of education is kind of left behind, and people forget we spend 70 percent of every tax dollar in Kanawha County,” Thaw said in an interview about the many issues the school board is facing and could face in the future.

While Thaw consistently is the lead vote-getter, he faces several newcomers who have the potential to unseat him and inject the board with new ideas.

Ryan White, Vic Sprouse, Tracy White and Curtis Robinson are all parents of children in the school system and want to see positive changes made for the betterment of all students. Calvin McKinney also seeks to make improvements, but is by far the most experienced of the new candidates with 40 years as a teacher and principal.

Also running is Becky Jordon, a three-term board member seeking re-election. While her attempt to enact a teacher dress code policy this year was met with heated opposition, she expects excellence from students and teachers alike.

The school board sets the school calendar as well as policies that affect more than students and teachers. While its five members do oversee the school system, they are also the most powerful policy makers at the local level.

In the words of Thaw himself: Voters should have an interest in the board and get involved “regardless of who gets elected.”

There’s still a few hours left until we know which of the seven candidates will take the three open seats. For live coverage of the school board election, follow @charleywest and @wvschools on Twitter.

Follow along for coverage of Kanawha and Putnam school board elections, as well as other local races:

Kanawha County School Board Candidates

Sometimes, technology advances journalism. Today was not one of those days.

I intended to do a live blog of the Daily Mail editorial board meeting with Kanawha County school board candidates like I did for Putnam County yesterday, but our Wi-Fi was not working.

Go figure.

Even though we were unable to do a live stream, my editor, Brad, still recorded the meeting so those who are interested could watch it later.

Seated left to right: Ryan White (District 1), Vic Sprouse (District 1), Calvin McKinney (District 4), Pete Thaw (District 2), Tracy White (District 3), Curtis Robinson (District 1) and Becky Jordan (District 2).

Live Blog: Putnam County School Board candidates

The Daily Mail editorial board met with candidates for the Putnam County school board today.

There are four non-partisan candidates vying for three seats, but two are running unopposed.

Diana McCallister and Craig Spicer are running in the contested third magisterial district.

Rob Cunningham of the second district and Butch Legg of the first district are the unopposed candidates.

Whoever wins in the primary election on May 13 will automatically join the school board because non-partisan elections are not part of the general election.