CENTER, Mo. | Voters showed their support for the Ralls County R-II School District's five-year district wide plan on Tuesday, approving a pair of ballot issues that will bring more than $8 million in upgrades for the district.
The general obligation bond issue received 68.28% of the vote with 605 ballots in favor and 281 opposing the proposal. The bonds will allow the school district to install a secure central front entrance area and remodel office areas and remove asbestos at Mark Twain Junior High School and Mark Twain High School and replace doors and windows.
In a more narrow decision, the $3.25 million lease purchase proposal was approved by a nine-vote margin with 438 voters in support and 429 voters opposing. The debt service levy portion of the plan includes renovations for the band, choir and 1959 FFA room. Heating and cooling upgrades and brighter, more efficient interior and exterior lighting will be installed, along with a redesigned parking lot entrance and additional parking for Ralls County Elementary School.
“The unofficial results show both ballot questions were supported and passed by voters. The projects to improve facilities for Ralls County R-II can begin as hoped. The 20/20 Vision will now come to life over the next few years with facility improvements to benefit every age level, alumni and community member,” said Ralls County R-II Superintendent Tara Lewis. “I am thankful for each voter who casted a ballot to support our students and school district. The $8 million in improvements will serve the current and next generation of Ralls County students. This is something to take much pride in.”
Lewis had been busy visiting businesses and groups like the Forget-Me-Not Center and the Masonic Lodge since public presentations of the plan were no longer possible due to the coronavirus. Lewis also maintained constant contact through social media platforms, providing information and answering questions about the ballot questions.
Lewis was excited that work on projects like the revised parking lot entrance could begin in the summer after Ralls County voters approved both measures.
Elsewhere in Ralls County, Jake Moss emerged as the top vote-getter in a six-way race for three positions on the Ralls County R-II School board. Moss received 616 votes. Other vote totals included Scott Hodges, 563; Ron Evans, 386; Mark Northcutt, 288; Jonathan Conrad, 244; and Daniel Clark, 231.
Center Mayor Dennis R. McMillen was reelected, withstanding a challenge from Thomas Bramblett by 18 votes. McMillen received 96 votes to Bramblett's 78. In a two-way race for the Ward I seat on Center's City Council, Shawn Couch defeated Rickie E. Wieberg by 24 votes. Couch received 45 votes to Wieberg's 21 votes.
Voters also backed a proposal for Center to issue $2 million in bonds to pay for sewer improvements. This proposal passed 146-30. A similar measure was approved by voters five years ago, but the ballot language was later ruled invalid.
Ralls County also will continue to collect its half-cent sales tax after voters approved its renewal by a margin of 814-322.
Ethan Colbert provided information for this story.