Cowley College has four open seats on its trustee board for the upcoming election. But no one had filed for those positions as of Tuesday.
During a trustee board meeting Monday, board chair Gary Wilson said he had visited with several people, but had been unable to find anyone interesting in running.
“It’s kind of a serious thing, folks,” he said. “The registration deadline is June 1 at noon, so it’s upon us ladies and gentlemen.”
The election is in November, with a primary in August if enough candidates file. Wilson himself is up for re-election, but said Tuesday in a phone interview that he has not decided whether to run for a second term.
“As far as I know, nobody else has filed either, and nobody outside the board has filed,” he said.
Three other incumbents whose terms expire in January are Ned Graham, Brian Sanderholm and JoLynn Foster.
Graham, of Winfield, said he has not made a decision about seeking a third term.
“I’m on my second term,” he said. “Right now it’s a pretty good board.”
Foster is a former board member who lost her seat in 2018, but was appointed to a vacancy in 2020. She said she agreed to come back for one term and is not planning to run for another.
“I want to go visit grandkids,” Foster said. “I’ve now got three great-grandchildren and another on the way. I’ve got a lot of family to go see.”
Foster said she would consider standing for election if no one steps forward, but would rather not.
Sanderholm said he hadn’t made a decision.
Communications Director Rama Peroo said the college actually has five vacant seats.
Harold Arnett vacated his seat in November and the board decided to leave the position open. Peroo said the term is not up for election until 2023.
The board has eight positions, with one dedicated to Sumner County.
Wilson asked the board to reach out to people who might make good members. He said the ideal candidates are people without agendas and interested in furthering the success of Cowley College — and aren’t afraid to ask questions.
“That’s what our job is, ask questions and get answers,” he said. “We represent the college, but we also represent Cowley County and the people out here that pay the bills.”
Last year, strife among trustees led to three of them resigning, Bob Juden, Jill Long and Nancy Burger. Those positions were filled by people who submitted letters of interest.
Arnett resigned in November to move closer to family in northeast Kansas. Trustees decided to leave his spot open after a lack on interested candidates.
The college is not the only board lacking candidates. As of Tuesday afternoon, no candidates were listed for three open seats on the Winfield school board and three open seats on the Ark City school board.
One candidate had filed for the three open seats on the Ark City commission. A lot of positions for school boards and city councils in the smaller communities of Cowley County also had few or no candidates. The list can be viewed at cowleycounty.org.
Trustees on Monday unanimously approved putting in artificial turf for the college baseball, softball and soccer fields, but not before Wilson sounded off about helping local companies bid on college projects.
The turf will be installed by Spinturf LLC at the cost of $938,800, and all necessary dirt work will be completed by Double E Construction for the amount of $794,400.
Athletic Director Shane Larson said that recommendations for companies to do the dirt work were provided by Spinturf representatives.
“It’s a very specific task to get the casework and the drainage set so that it drains properly, so he gave us recommendations of companies that he has used in other projects that specialize in this area,” he said.
Trustee JoLynn Foster said that most of the project would be funded this year out of college reserves and the remainder would be funded next year.
“There will not be any outstanding debt for any extended period of time,” she said.
Installation is expected to begin mid-June.
Wilson said that two local companies, Pike Construction or Wells Construction, would have been more than capable of doing the necessary work, but were not given the opportunity to bid.
“As long as I am on this board, I swear I am going to get this changed to where we have to go for local bids before we do anything,” he said. “These people pay the taxes that help support this college.”
Wilson said that one of the reasons that local companies do not bid on college projects is because they aren’t being asked to submit bids.
Wilson said that if the local companies chose to decline, that was OK, but they should at least have the opportunity.
“I’ve been seeing this since I’ve been on this board, and ladies and gentlemen, I want to put a stop to it,” he said.
Trustee Chris Swan agreed.
“I tend to agree with you,” he said. “We should give them the shot and the opportunity, how do we do that?”
“We’re going to put it in board policy, that’s how we’re going to do it,” Wilson said.
The board also approved replacing the roof at The Lodge dormitory. Bloyer and Sons, Inc., will complete a full replacement of the roof at 2575 Greenway Road for $402,325.
Foster said when the board examined the roof and hoped the roof could be patched, but found out that was not possible.
“As it turns out, both of the people who inspected that building said that you could not patch it,” she said. “Nobody will patch it. You are going to have to do a full replacement.”
Foster said that even if the college decides to built a new dorm, the roof needs to be replaced.
“You couldn’t sell the building if the roof wasn’t repaired,” she said.
Foster said there is also a lot of interior work that will need to be completed because of the water damage caused by the roof. She said the college maintenance staff would be able to complete those repairs.