Democrat Photo by Dan Hust
IT PASSED!: Joy is evident on the faces of these people, who waited an hour in the bleachers at Jeff-Youngsville to hear the results of the Sullivan West vote. All pro-building proposal advocates, they were obviously highly pleased.
Sullivan West to Get Brand New High School
By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE June 23, 2000 -- As 9 p.m. neared, then passed Thursday evening, residents and board members of the Sullivan West Central School District began filing in to the 1938 gym at the Jeffersonville-Youngsville campus.
Nearly 100 eventually showed up, waiting close to an hour to hear the final results of the long-awaited high school building/renovations vote conducted throughout that afternoon at J-Y, Delaware Valley and Narrowsburg.
But before District Clerk Peg Luty and Superintendent Mike Johndrow even made their way into the humid gym, there were titters of success by the pro-building proposal crowd, with whispers of Its going to be close turning into not-so-silent squeals of I think weve won! followed by thumbs-up signals from several people.
Those whispers and squeals turned into shouts of victory and joy when Luty and Johndrow stepped in front of the audience and announced that Proposition #1, the proposal to build a 9-12 high school in Lake Huntington and extensively renovate the three existing schools, had passed by a 300-vote margin.
The elation at the 1,484-1,162 vote was curbed somewhat when the outcomes of Propositions #2 and #3 were read aloud, as 1,519 taxpayers said they did not want a new swimming pool at the high school site, compared with 1,099 who did. And 1,369 people said no to the 300 extra seats in the 600-seat auditorium, as opposed to the 1,265 people who said yes.
(All numbers are still unofficial.)
Over 2,600 people voted in all, with turnout averaging slightly over 100 an hour at DV in Callicoon and J-Y in Jeffersonville. Narrowsburg, a smaller election district, averaged about 70 an hour all in all, a fairly large turnout.
Interestingly enough, the building vote passed in the DV district by a mere eight votes (488-480), and the other two propositions were soundly defeated. In Jeff, Proposition #1 actually failed by 86 votes (492-578), and, again, the other two proposals met a firm defeat.
Only in Narrowsburg which has been the most in need for immediate solutions to current problems did everything pass, with the building vote being a resounding 504-104 in favor, along with large approvals for #2 and #3.
Thus, as many had predicted, Narrowsburg carried the proposal, but it also means that school officials have a tough job ahead of them when the time comes for more public votes, since a large portion of voters did not approve of the current plan. In fact, there is some evidence that many who voted no were pro-merger advocates disillusioned by the conflicting facts surrounding the building proposal.
But Thursday night, such thoughts were immediately (if only temporarily) banished from the minds of those attending the vote announcement.
Rebounding from the large no votes for Propositions #2 and #3, an audience member yelled, Well take the building! and the cheering began again in earnest.
This is like the greatest thing that could happen, said an elated Angela Daley, a board member and resident of Narrowsburg. Its really important to thank those who stood behind us. Those who really should be thanked are those who have been working on this for 25 years.
Her 11-year-old son, Stephen, who will enter the new high school as a freshman when it is completed in 2002, added, I think its great that we get a new high school! Although I did want the pool.
Holding her head in joyous disbelief, Callicoon resident and longtime merger advocate Cindy Humleker could muster up only a few breathless words.
Im just so thrilled! We did it, and the kids have so much, she remarked. I wont sleep tonight, but thats a good thing. I have a ton of work to do!
Board president Carol Nearing, who had felt queasy earlier in the evening due to nervousness, agreed with Humleker that she, too, would be facing a sleepless night.
I always said honesty is the best policy, she explained regarding the boards dissemination of proposal information. And now its all right in front of us. We have so many people to thank!
For the kids and for Lake Huntington, its just great, agreed board member Jeff Nober, who works just a few yards away from where the new school will be built. Maybe well even get a convenience store!
And then, of course, there was Superintendent Mike Johndrow, who was so overwhelmed that he could not stop wringing his trembling hands.
Im very, very, very excited, he explained in a subdued tone. We put a lot into this, and education was obviously a priority. People really do care about education and the kids.
I thought last years merger was big, he said. But this . . . this is the culmination.