Evergreen school board interviews potential members

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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Four people looking to take the first step to district-wide leadership made their cases Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the Evergreen school board.

The vacancy was created by the resignation of Troy Thomas.

After reviewing seven applications, the four current members of the board selected four applicants for individual 30-minute interviews: Kevin Safley; Julie Bocanegra; Jeffrey Dillard; and Marie LaManna.

All four applicants said they have been involved in community activities, but none had ever sought a spot on the school board before.

o Kevin Safley, who owns a transmission shop, said he has wanted to get more involved in the community. He decided to apply for the spot when the district mailed out notices of the board vacancy.

Safley said he is a local football official. He is a member of the Army National Guard, with a total of 17 years in the military. That service — including two deployments in Iraq — has helped him develop leadership skills, Safley said.

He has two children, 5 and 11.

o Julie Bocanegra is a Columbia Credit Union branch manager. Bocanegra said she applied because “the opportunity is here,” and she felt her previous board experiences would help her.

She is the past chair of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce, former president of the Evergreen Little League, and was treasurer of her church board for four years. Bocanegra said she has a friend on the Camas school board who told her about the commitments she would be undertaking.

Bocanegra’s son is a freshman at Heritage High School.

o Jeffrey Dillard said he considered applying for a board vacancy eight years ago, but decided that the time wasn’t right.

He was opening an independent insurance agency back then, and now he has more time, Dillard said.

Dillard has had four children in Evergreen schools, with the last one now at Heritage High School. Dillard has been involved in his children’s schools, and also been a leader in Scouting and church activities.

One of his strengths, Dillard said, comes from being an independent businessman: “It makes me know how to get things done.”

o Marie LaManna said the time was right for her to seek a spot on the board after earning her bachelor’s through an adult degree program.

LaManna is an employee of Clark Public Utilities and has a child attending Covington Middle School.

LaManna said she has been an active school parent and a Scout leader. Around the county, she has been involved in the annual Walk & Knock food drive and in the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands.

The board will vote on the appointment at its Feb. 28 meeting, then have the new member sworn in at its March 13 meeting.

The Evergreen school board is the governing body for the fourth-largest district in the state, with an enrollment of about 27,000.

Evergreen is the county’s third-largest employer, with about 3,100 full-time and part-time employees.

The position includes compensation of $50 a day per meeting or board-approved event, up to $4,800 a year; some board members don’t claim compensation.