Houston citizens voted Tuesday in favor of progress in the community.
The Houston R-1 School District’s $6 million bond issue for a new gymnasium passed with 69.2 percent approval. The City of Houston’s proposed one-cent sales tax was closer, but just needing a simple majority, it was approved 221-206.
Voter turnout was low in the county with 17.5 percent turnout – 2,904 of the 16,582 registered voters.
The election also includes school board races, bond issues in other county school districts, city council races and the selection of new Houston mayor Willy Walker. He ran unopposed.
The Houston Schools bond issue, which won 738-328, is the first of two phases proposed by the school board to improve security, renovate current facilities and build a new gymnasium on campus. The structure will seat 1,650 – more than doubling the size of Hiett Gymnasium – with an additional 500 seats to be added by another bond issue in 4-5 years.
“This is a huge step for our district, our kids and our community,” said Dr. Allen Moss, superintendent. “Thank you to our staff, our kids and our community for showing such great support for our school. What a great night for the Houston School District and the City of Houston.”
The overwhelming approval was four years to the day of the last bond issue, which passed in April 2, 2013, with 72 percent support. That $4 million project connected the high school and middle school buildings, expanded the cafeteria, replaced roofs and provided a new library/media center.
No two Houston Schools bond issues have ever passed with few time between them.
With 51.8 percent approval, Houston will utilize the one-percent sales tax for its parks and recreation department as well as the police and fire departments. Half of the funds will be distributed to recreation for improvements on the swimming pool as well as the building of a sports complex. The fire department will receive 32.5 percent of the tax while the police department gets the remaining 17.5 percent.
Unofficial results from the April 2 ballot that included the Houston Schools bond issue, City of Houston one-cent sales tax, school board and city council races and more across the county.
On the Houston school board, incumbent Jennifer Scheets retained her three-year seat with 805 votes. Jeff Gettys was voted onto the board with 645 votes. Tim Malam received 422 votes.
The Houston city council has a new representative in Ward II as Michael Weakly defeated incumbent Jeremy St. John 61-40. In Ward III, Kimberly Bittle ran unopposed.
Walker replaces Don Tottingham as mayor. After serving for eight years, Tottingham did not run for re-election.
Licking voters defeated a $5.76 million bond for new classrooms, prepaying existing lease financing, expanding the elementary cafeteria and other improvements by a 468-429 vote.
Both Raymondville and Cabool patrons elected to continue levies in their districts. The Raymondville 42.24 cent per $100 accessed valuation was approved 90-40. The Cabool $3.2135 per $100 assessed valuation levy through tax year 2034 passed 313-104.
CONTESTED CITY RACES
In races for the Licking city council, Gregory Green edged Dale Diedrich 70-65 to win the Ward II seat. Danny Wade was the winner in Ward I, beating Joe Dillard Jr. 68-48.
COUNTY SCHOOL BOARDS
Jacob Reese and Shaun Watson both won positions on the Cabool school board. Reese received 318 votes while Watson had 274. Brenda Jarrett finished with 162 votes.
At Summersville Schools, Jason Greear (104) and Jay Duncan (97) won seats on the board of education. Jeremy Combs was third with 26 votes.
Two issues were included in the City of Licking. Both passed.
One that will issue $2.35 million in general obligation bonds for water and sewer improvements was approved 186-77.
The other, which will issue revenue bonds totaling about $1.45 million, was approved 190-74.
At the Village of Raymondville, residents voted 28-11 to forgo an election if the number of filed matches the total spots to be filled.
In a three-person race for two spots on the Pierce Township board, Scott Woolsey received 62 votes and Daryl Bradford had 34. A third person, Troy Bradford, received 29 votes.
Virginia Burcham was named to the Water District No. 1, Subdistrict #4 board with 119 votes compared to 87 for Mary Beth Duncan Rodts.
There were no candidates for two seats on the Texas County Health board. The county clerk’s office said there were 1,066 write-in votes. They will be tabulated and released Friday.