Vacant Ringgold board seat filled

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A Washington County judge Monday named an outspoken critic of a proposal to remodel and reopen two aging Ringgold School District buildings to a vacant seat on a school board that has been deadlocked on the decision.


The appointment of Maureen Ott of Nottingham Township by Judge Janet Moschetta Bell moments before the courthouse closed for business Monday likely will result in the district constructing a new middle school, board President Charles Smith said.


“Then the decision has been made. It is what it is,” said Smith, whose faction on the board supported reopening the closed elementary schools in Donora and Monongahela to serve as middle schools.


Ott is a mechanical engineer who has peppered the directors with criticism at board meetings and through social medial sites, including Facebook and YouTube. She could not be reached Monday afternoon.


Ott and three others petitioned the court after the school board failed to fill the seat within 30 days after former Director William Ellis died Aug. 18. She will serve out Ellis’ term through Dec. 2, 2013.


She has two children attending Ringgold and had presented the court with a petition containing 300 signatures of local supporters and documents showing she had the backing of supervisors in Union and Nottingham townships.


The other candidates were former Ringgold director Cherie Curdie and Kimberly Hrubes, both of Union Township, and Finleyville businessman Charles E. Trax Jr., who withdrew his petition Thursday.


Smith said he hopes Ott “comes in and looks at the numbers and considers the curriculum” before casting a vote on which direction the district takes on where to house middle school students.


“I hope she chooses wisely,” Smith said. “It’ll be interesting.”


A former majority on the board voted in January to close Ringgold Middle School in Finleyville because it needs costly structural repairs and relocate its students to Monongahela and Donora. The board since has considered a number of other alternatives, plans that died in 4-4 votes.


Board Vice President Mariann Bulko, who supports new construction, said Ott is aware of what the district is facing because she attends all of the board meetings.


“I think we will get some business done,” Bulko said.Please see ###, Page ##


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