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LibbyMt.com > News > February 2011 > Strong turnout reported in school bond election

Kootenai Valley Record. Photo by Kootenai Valley Record.
Kootenai Valley Record
Strong turnout reported in school bond election
by Brent Shrum, Kootenai Valley Record
February 3, 2011

Turnout has been heavy in an ongoing mail ballot election to determine if Libbyís school consolidation plans will be funded by a $12 million bond issue, according to Lincoln County election officials.

Ballots were mailed out on Jan. 14, and the election will end and results will be counted on Tuesday, Feb. 8. With a little over a week to go, more than 2,000 of the 5,389 ballots mailed out had been returned, for a turnout of about 38 percent, said assistant election administrator Leigh Riggleman.

The only snag so far has been the discovery of about a dozen and a half ballots that were dropped into the boxes at the courthouse without first being placed into a signed envelope, Riggleman said. Without signatures to verify who voted, the ballots canít be counted, Riggleman said.

"Theyíre just in the box so we can account for them, but for people who are concerned with voter fraud, thatís a big one," she said.

If a ballot returned by mail is missing a signature, but the voter can be identified by a return address, every effort will be made to contact the voter, Riggleman said. Likewise, anyone who dropped a ballot into the box without a signed envelope can come to the clerk and recorderís office to get a new ballot, she said.

The goal is to make sure everyoneís vote is counted, Riggleman said.

"If we have any way of getting in touch with that voter and contacting that voter, thatís what we want," she said.

Regardless of whether the bond issue passes, plans call for Asa Wood School to be closed for the 2012-2013 school year. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade will be consolidated at the current middle school building, and grades seven through 12 will go to the high school.

If the bond issue isnít approved, the district will use around $1 million from its building fund to make the minimum changes needed to allow for consolidation. If the bond issue is approved, upgrades at the middle school will include a new commons area and library, a new district kitchen, new loading zones and other renovations and upgrades. High school upgrades would include a new commons and auxiliary gym, a new library, a new wing for seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms with its own entrance, and improvements to the main entrance.

Editor's Note: See the February 1, 2011 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, on Tuesdays, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail kvrecord@gmail.com.

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