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Friday, 24 February 2017 08:00

Four candidates want two seats in New Brigden/Oyen area byelection for the Prairie Rose School Division

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Residents of Ward 1 for Prairie Rose School Division, which includes New Brigden, Oyen, Acadia Valley and the Bindloss areas, will head to the polls March 9.


They will have four candidates to choose from to fill two vacancies around the board table. They are Lois Bedwell, Lucille Hertz, Daryl Yake and Jim Ness.
Lois Bedwell
Bedwell is a well-known name in the community having served as a town councillor in Oyen as well as working in the education system as a school librarian for more than 15 years.
“This seemed like a natural progression,” she says, about why she chose to let her name stand for the byelection. “Oyen and the area needed representation and I thought I could do it.”
Bedwell had already made up her mind to run in the general school board election that is slated for this fall. Moving up her timeline and throwing her name into the pool of nominees now just made sense.
“They are all good candidates,” she adds about her fellow area residents running for the two positions.
She knows a challenge that will be on the trustees’ plates is declining school enrolment and how to best educate students when numbers continue to decrease.
“(Our students) deserve as good an education as their urban counterparts,” she adds. “I want to see us keep schools open and viable and delivering an excellent education to our kids.”
Bedwell has lived in Oyen most of her life and has grandchildren in the school system.
“I want to see the best possible education for them too.”
She says it’s important to have representation from the northern part of the division around the board table.
“I think with my experience and background, I am a good candidate.”
Lucille Hertz
Hertz is also no stranger to the education system and the area. She has lived in Oyen where she herself attended school, and moved to the New Brigden area when she married.
She has been a custodian at New Brigden School for more than 22 years, as well as working part-time with ATCO Electric and still helping with the farm.
“Ward 1 needs a couple of voices down in Dunmore (in central office),” says Hertz, about why she wanted to run for a trustee position. “Definitely New Brigden is important to me, but I’ve lived in this area a long time and I have an interest in Acadia Valley and the schools in Oyen for sure.”
Hertz says she sees a Ward where people are moving back to the area who have pre-school aged children.
“We are a sparse area, but we’re definitely seeing young families with young children. There are lots of children coming up.”
Learning all of the challenges the school division faces will be on the agenda for Hertz if she is elected, but she feels ready to take on that learning opportunity.
She hopes every resident who is able will head to the polls to vote for trustees and she is already excited by the interest shown in this byelection by the general public.
“There is an opportunity here and I am at a point in my life that I have some time. I have some great investments coming up too — my grandchildren,” she adds about her family members who are just entering the school system or will be in the next few years.
“I look forward, if elected, to doing by best and equally and fairly representing everybody.”
Daryl Yake
The northeast portion of the PRSD holds a special place for Yake who also grew up south of Oyen and remained in the area.
Self-employed, he has ownership in a contracting industrial custom weed spraying company.
He seems himself as having a vested interest in the education system with six grandchildren who will be attending Prairie Rose schools in the next five years.
“I think in our education system, times are changing,” he says. “Young people need an education now (and that education system is) not like when I was growing up.”
Yake marvels at the ability for children to learn in today’s age of technology. He says his six-year-old grandson taught himself how to read just by using an iPad.
He believes he has the flexibility in his schedule to be able to serve on the board and valuable knowledge to share with others around the board table.
Jim Ness
Ness has lived in the New Brigden area all his life and his mother was a school principal for 19 years. He farms and works as a consultant for oilpatch projects.
He doesn’t beat around the bush when asked why he chose to run for a trustee position.
“I thought I could assist in saving the (New Brigden) school,” he says. “My points of interest are excellence in the classroom and a good quality home life.”
Ness says if people follow the record of students who attend New Brigden School and then move on to Oyen facilities, they have excelled. He believes that’s because those students enjoyed an excellent education in the smaller school in New Brigden and also an excellent home life when they were younger in their formative years because they could be home sooner, rather than enduring longer bus rides.
“Professional studies prove there are dramatic affects on children who have to ride buses for a long time,” he adds. “I’m determined to protect a parent’s interests in keeping a quality home life.”
Ness says he was asked by some in the community to consider a run for a trustee position, calling himself a “bit of a social, political activist.”
Ness was one of the 13 farmers who went to jail for a short time rather than pay a fine in 2002 for selling his wheat in the United States, breaking the Customs Act by refusing to present a grain export licence to Canada Customs. He received a pardon for that in 2013 from then Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“This is one of the most important projects I can help the community with ... I intend to do my best if elected,” says Ness about becoming a school board trustee. “Should I win, I would work for the interests of the kids all over the school division. I’m interested in kids pursuing excellence and giving opportunities to do that ... I know what it takes to win the war. Sometimes to win the war, you may have to compromise on the battle. I would represent the interests of all parents to the best of my ability.”
Voting stations will be set up in three locations in Ward 1 which will include Oyen, New Brigden and Acadia Valley. There will be one day for advanced voting set to take place March 2 in Oyen.
Elected trustees will be sworn in at the March 14 public board meeting.
More information about the byelection process can be found on Prairie Rose School Division’s website: http://prrdweb.com/.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor