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Hard to believe it happened at MHS again

Not again.

Fresh off the girls varsity basketball coach jailed for having sexual relations with a player, now the Madras High School track coach is arrested for sex abuse with a male athlete on the team.

Unbelievable.

We can only guess as to the level of due diligence that the school district practiced when it hired Melissa Bowerman to run the program, along with her well-known husband, Jon. With Melissa's lead, the Bowermans together were successful track coaches at Fossil and Condon, but she was let go after she escorted a boy to the Condon prom. Most outsiders considered it, at best, a mistake by Bowerman, and she admitted such. Fossil officials, though, were motivated to release and not just reprimand her — even though her husband was a longtime school board member and well-respected leader in Wheeler County, for that matter, respected throughout Jefferson County.

Brad Sperry, Fossil school superintendent and former Madras district administrator, said at the time that "there was more to the story" but that the district couldn't, and wouldn't, speak on record to it.

Following yesterday's arrest, one can't help but think that maybe Fossil officials knew something about Ms. Bowerman that Madras officials should have found out.

As a nonteacher coach, her contract ended at the end of the season. However, there were no public plans not to let her continue coaching next year. Why would there be? The program made strides under the Bowermans — small, but strides nonetheless. With Jon's leadership, this past spring, they led the effort to convince private donors to contribute funding so the new track surface could be upgraded.

But on Monday, all that was right became another embarrassment.

The school board — at least half of which are highly interested and involved with Madras High athletics — and the community have been committed to improving facilities, and they've never been better. The football stadium and track will be brand new this fall; the newly remodeled and upgraded gymnasium is one of the largest high school gyms east of the Cascades; and the baseball-softball fields combine to be an excellent prep complex.

Still, judging by on-field success rates, the state of athletics at Madras High School is near an all-time low. Far worse, its reputation is in shambles thanks to two incarcerated coaches charged with violating the most basic "never do" aspect of coaching kids.

This column a couple weeks back noted that new athletic director Evan Brown has a big chore in front of him. It just got bigger.

The school has several new varsity coaches; the impending school year will be the first or second seasons for most at the school. Hopefully, along with Brown, these men and women will stick around and be the agents of athletics culture change the school desperately needs.

Because right now, at this moment in time, we're embarrassed.



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  • 22 Nov 2014

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