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Published: Saturday, 6/9/2012

Oregon school board member resigns

Richard Gabel. Richard Gabel.

Richard Gabel, president of the Oregon City Schools Board of Education, has resigned, citing a recent flare-up in kidney cancer he's battled for years.

Mr. Gabel, 69, offered no explanation in the resignation letter he gave to fellow board members at Thursday's special meeting. He said Friday the cancer he's had for eight years intensified about three months ago, and new medication has sapped some of his energy.

"I still do everything I want to do," he said. "[The medication] just slows me down a little."

The special board meeting was for an update on a possible grade-level reconfiguration, discussion on possible adult education programming, and approval of Clay High School's student handbook, according to a district statement. The board entered an executive session at one point and accepted Mr. Gabel's resignation in a 5-0 vote after resuming the public meeting.

Vice President Diana Gadus assumed the role of president for the board. Ms. Gadus said many in the community were already aware of Mr. Gabel's health circumstances and were not shocked at the resignation. She and Superintendent Michael Zalar praised his work promoting technology, his help in stabilizing the district's finances, and his involvement in bringing wind turbines to Oregon schools.

"He did a lot of wonderful things for our school system," Ms. Gadus said.

Mr. Gabel, a vice president of the International Longshoremen's Association and a member of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors, was appointed to the Oregon school board in 2008 to fill a vacancy and was re-elected a year later. He said 4½ years on the board was enough.

"I just thought I'd give someone else a shake on being on the school board," he said. "It's sort of an interesting job. … It keeps you pretty busy."

Mr. Gabel said he plans to continue to work but just not on the school board.

The board must fill Mr. Gabel's seat within 30 days. His term was to expire Dec. 31, 2013. Applications for the seat, including a cover letter, resume, and statement that cites qualifications and reasons for applying, should be sent to district treasurer Jane Fruth at the Oregon administrative building, or by email to jfruth@oregoncs.org.

Applications are available at the administrative building or on the district's Web site, www.oregoncityschools.org. Interviews for candidates will be conducted the week of June 25, and a new board member will be sworn in July 7.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.

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