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In this photo from 2019, Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus, at left, embraces Upshur BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples after learning county voters approved the levy renewal. Samples was re-elected Tuesday night. / File photo

Samples, Long claim Upshur BOE seats

BUCKHANNON – Four area residents vied for two seats on the Upshur County Board of Education during the 2020 Primary Election and as of Wednesday, the two candidates receiving the most votes were incumbent Dr. Tammy Jo Samples with 3,563 votes and Pat Long with 2,404 total votes.

However, no results are official until the completion of the canvass, which gets underway at 9 a.m. Monday, June 15 in the Upshur County Courthouse. Samples is from District 3, while Long is from District 2.

The vacancy in District 2 came from former BOE member Alan Suder, who opted not to run again for the BOE. In District 3, Dr. Tammy Jo Samples was the incumbent, and voters had the choice to elect two members who could both be in District 2 or could elect one candidate from District 2 and one from District 3.

Once all Upshur County precincts had reported their totals Tuesday evening, Samples told My Buckhannon said she was very happy and excited for the opportunity of another four years to do what is best for children in Upshur County.

“It is important to me that we do our best to provide the best for the students in this county,” Samples said, adding she wanted to thank everyone for their support. “I appreciate the voters giving me the opportunity to do that again.”

Samples was the only representative vying for a BOE seat from District 3. She is currently completing her eighth year on the board and said she decided to run again because she believes it is important to have a voice on the BOE that has a deep understanding of education.

“The school board has had many accomplishments during my tenure. I am most proud of the fact that ALL of our students receive free lunch, and we provide school-based health services,” Samples said. “Our students have trauma-informed care and next year, there will be one-to-one technology with each of our students having an iPad.”

Samples said in previous years, there have been hurdles to overcome as a board member.

“Financial issues are always a concern,” Samples said. “It is the responsibility of the board to be fiscally responsible. A decrease in the funds we receive can drastically impact our ability to operate at an optimum level.”

And during the pandemic, the delivery of curriculum changed quickly. Samples said she is not sure how schools will look for the 2020-2021 school year.

“There are groups meeting both locally and at the state level to begin re-entry plans. Our plan will develop as COVID-19 continues to change,” Samples said.

She said she is most looking forward to seeing what the ‘new normal’ will look like.

“Also, I am excited to see how we as a school system will adapt,” Samples said. “I am anxious to observe the distribution of the 1-to-1 technology devices and see how those will strengthen student learning.”
Samples grew up in Upshur County and attended Adrian Elementary, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle and Buckhannon-Upshur High Schools. She taught in Upshur County for about 16 years and currently is the president of the Upshur County BOE.

Patrick Winston Long will also take a seat on the Upshur County BOE.

“I am honored that voters placed their confidence in me working with the Upshur County BOE,” Long said. “I look forward to working with Dr. Tammy Samples and her successful team. “

Long, who represents District 2, has made his home in Upshur County for more than 60 years and said he is pleased to be elected to serve on the Upshur County BOE. He said his decision to run for the BOE was made because he “dearly loves working with people.”

“I am currently retired and have been for the last 12 years,” Long said. “I dearly love working with people and I also feel there is nothing more important in our community than our children.”

Long said when he served on the Upshur County BOE previously it was important for him to examine all sides of every issue.

“The most important ingredient in any decision, after gathering consensus from all sides of every issue, was seeing how it would affect the children,” Long said. “I feel my previous experience on the BOE makes it possible for me to hit the ground running.”

Long said he feels his own personal thinking style of looking for answers wherever they may be found, whether it be “in the box, outside of the box or somewhere not even near a box,” can be productive and useful to the BOE’s decision-making process.

Long is married to Susan Long, who retired from teaching fifth grade at Union Elementary School. Long said he and Susan have three wonderful children and six beautiful grandchildren.

District 2 had two other candidates seeking a seat on the Upshur County BOE. Graham Godwin received 2,050 votes as of Tuesday evening and David Bush received 1,841 votes.

Samples’ and Long’s terms begin July 1, 2020.

The Upshur County Board of Education typically meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month and is made up of five members. Other members of the BOE include Dr. Greenbrier Almond, Kristi Wilkerson and Vice President Katie Loudin.

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