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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Ex-president of Lake board is appointed to fill vacancy

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ken Smith, Lake Local school board vice president, was adamant last month when he said he didn't want former school board President Eric Hirzel to serve with him on the board for the next two years.

But the decision was out of his hands yesterday when Judge David Woessner of Wood County Probate Court announced that he had appointed Mr. Hirzel to the board.

Mr. Smith found out about the appointment yesterday during an interview with The Blade.

"Someone had to be appointed," he said. "I knew this was a possibility going in all along In the election process, we don't get to choose who we get to work with either."

Judge Woessner made the appointment because the four school board members couldn't agree on a person to fill a vacancy during their Jan. 21 meeting.

The school board interviewed candidates in January to fill the vacancy created when Roger Sherman, who was elected Nov. 6, died Nov. 26 at age 72.

One of the candidates was Mr. Hirzel, who was board president in 2006 and 2007. He was not re-elected in November after he was forced to run as a write-in candidate because of an election packet technicality. Though he was a write-in candidate, he received 885 votes, a number that Judge Woessner described as "significant."

Mr. Smith said after the Jan. 21 meeting that two school board members thought Mr. Hirzel was best for the position, but Mr. Smith and the other board member didn't think they could work with Mr. Hirzel.

Mr. Smith and newly elected board member Nathan Eikost, who is a Lake High School student, did not want Mr. Hirzel on the board.

Board President Tim Krugh said he and board member Margene Akenberger did.

"I've worked with Eric [Hirzel] for two years. I've had experience with him, and I didn't think he was appropriate," Mr. Smith said after the meeting, declining to be specific.

Once the board failed to reach a decision, the responsibility fell to Judge Woessner, who said 11 people expressed interest in the board appointment.

The judge said Mr. Hirzel was the best-suited person for the position. The judge said he considered Mr. Hirzel's relationship with certain board members when he made his decision.

"I chose the individual that I believe was best to suit the needs of the board at this time until such time as the electors can vote next year," Judge Woessner said.

Terry Burton, deputy director of the Wood County Board of Elections, said that, under Ohio law, Mr. Hirzel will be allowed to serve through the 2009 election cycle, when his seat will be put on the November ballot for the remainder of the term, ending January of 2012.

Mr. Hirzel said he's excited to be back on the board.

"It should never be about anybody's personal feelings," Mr. Hirzel said.

"We're there to do a job. We need to put personal feelings aside and do the job," he said.

Mr. Krugh, in a news release yesterday, voiced his confidence and that of Mrs. Akenberger in Mr. Hirzel's abilities as a public servant. He said he thinks the school board can work together despite the conflict among some of its members.

"In the past, Mr. Smith was on the board while Mr. Hirzel was president," he said.

"Both were outstanding board members and worked well together While we were working together, out of 511 votes, 509 of those votes were unanimous," Mr. Krugh said in the news release.

Mr. Hirzel is the greenhouse manager of Hirzel Canning Company & Farms in Northwood.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at: calcorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6168.



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