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VOL. 127 | NO. 176 | Monday, September 10, 2012

Commission to Appoint School Board Members

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners will appoint two new members to the countywide school board at their Monday, Sept. 10, meeting.

The commission meeting is at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

The appointees will fill seats on the old Shelby County Schools board, which is part of the 23-member transitional countywide school board. The transitional board has less than a year before Shelby County’s two public school systems merge. At that point, in August 2013, the board then becomes the seven district members elected in the Aug. 2 elections.

In last month’s elections, David Reaves and David Pickler, who represented Districts 3 and 5 respectively on the old county school board, were elected to the seven-member board creating the vacancies.

Reaves was elected to District 3 and Pickler to District 4 on the seven-member countywide board.

Six people applied for the District 3 seat and five for the District 5 seat on the old county school board.

The District 3 applicants are Sonji Miller Branch, Kimberly Dyer, Kevin Hardin, Howard Holden, Leon Hurd and Oscar Love.

The District 5 applicants are Rosetta Beckford, Robert Cox, Mary Anne Gibson, Michael Harless and Jennifer Koltnow.

Commissioners will make nominations. They aren’t required to nominate everyone who applied and they can nominate citizens who did not apply.

Monday’s meeting is also the first for Mike Ritz’s one-year term as chairman of the 13-member body. And it is the first meeting of the full body for the newest commissioner, Steve Basar, representing District 1 Position 3. Basar took the oath of office during the Wednesday, Sept. 5, committee sessions.

He is serving the two years left in the term of office of Mike Carpenter who resigned in October. Between Carpenter’s resignation and Basar’s oath of office, Brent Taylor was appointed to fill the seat.

For Taylor, a former Memphis City Council member, the 10 months were a contrast from his 12 years on the council.

“By any measure it was a tumultuous term,” Taylor said at his last meeting on Aug. 27.

Taylor’s first meeting was one in which the commission approved a $785,000 four-year family planning services contract with Christ Community Health Services. The contract vote came with a vigorous debate about ending the old agreement with Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region.

Taylor voted with the majority for the new contract with a new provider.

Most of the tumult Taylor referred to, however, was within the Republican ranks as Taylor clashed numerous times with fellow Republican commissioner Terry Roland.

When they agreed on issues, Roland protested that Taylor talked too much about his experience on the council. Taylor criticized Roland for reacting without always knowing the facts.

The dispute reached its high point in January when there weren’t nine votes on the commission to give final approval to any redistricting plan, which was due at the end of 2011.

Taylor jokingly checked the plaque he got from the commission at the end of his tenure to see if Roland’s name was included. It was.

“We make better friends than we do colleagues,” Roland remarked later.

The last official function for Taylor, a funeral home owner and operator, was the formal opening of the West Tennessee Regional Forensic Center.

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