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Bond levy passes by five votes

by: PHOTO BY CINDY DIX - Culver Superintendent Stefanie Garber's wait for election results is over, with the certification of the 590-585 vote approval of Culver School District's bond levy. Garber stands in front of one of the two cinder block elementary school wings that will be torn down and rebuilt. No recount will be required for Culver School District's $8.8 million bond levy, which officially passed by a five-vote margin 10 days after the Nov. 5 election.

With the vote standing at 588 yes to 585 no on Election Day, residents of the school district learned that there were still ballots to be counted: one that had been dropped off in Deschutes County, and possibly three that had signature issues that could be fixed.

By last Wednesday, Jefferson County Clerk Kathy Marston had received the ballot from Deschutes County, as well as one of the three that needed to have its signature verified. She got out the electronic ballot counter, and found that both were "yes" votes, making the total 590 yes to 585 no, which would not trigger an automatic recount.

However, there were still two ballots turned in before Election Day that had signature issues. Those voters had been contacted by postcard, and had until 10 days after the election — Friday, Nov. 15 — to "prove up their ballot signatures or sign their ballots if they didn't sign them," said Marston.

At 5 p.m. on Friday, she posted the good news for Culver School District officials: the election was certified with a five-vote margin.

Marston said that she has never had such a close election since she's been clerk. "People say I'm not going to vote, because my one vote doesn't make a difference, but in this vote, it made a big difference. This really illustrates that one vote can make a difference."

Culver School District's request for an $8.8 million bond levy to make critical repairs and renovations in Culver schools was the third in the past two years. The first, for $14.75 million in November 2011, was defeated by 381 votes, and the second for $9.75 million in May, was also turned down, but by only 60 votes.

With the $8.8 million, the district will tear down and replace two cinder block elementary school wings, improve the efficiency of the energy systems, renovate the district's other facilities, and pay off half the $1.9 million debt for the property the district purchased in 2008.

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