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13 candidates seeking seats on Albert Gallatin School Board

| Monday, May 12, 2003

Thirteen candidates are seeking a nomination in the General election for seats on the Albert Gallatin School Board.

Most of the candidates have cross-filed.

Edward A. Colebank, 61, of Masontown, has cross-filed. He is a democrat and is retired after spending 33 years in education as a teacher and principal. He was also a coach.

Colebank earned a bachelor of science and masters of arts degrees as well as his principal certification from West Virginia University.

Colebank spent 41 years in the Boy Scouts, 28 years at the Masontown Volunteer Fire Department, eight years on the Masontown Borough Council, and is a retired PIAA official, a lifetime member of the NEA and spent time in the ROTC.

Colebank has been married for 39 years to Betty Colebank and has two sons, Ed "Alan" Colebank, a teacher a Greene County Vo-Tech and Tommy Colebank, an assistant principal at Uniontown Area Senior High School.

On the school board for four years, Colebank says he has the experience in working with youth and adds that education is the most important thing someone has that cannot be taken away. Planting the seeds of education makes a child grow to be a future citizen of the United States, he says.

William Guappone, 59, of McClellandtown, a democrat, is also cross-filed. He is a retired educator who has been married for 27 years to wife Diane Guappone and father to three children ranging in ages from 20 to 32.

Guappone taught math for 10 years and was a secondary principal for 22 years for the Southeastern School District.

Guappone earned a bachelor of science in mathematics from Waynesburg College, a masters of art in Public School Administration /Curriculum and Development from West Virginia University, and completed additional graduate work and seminars for his administration position. He was a a graduate from All Saints High School in 1961.

He is a member of the Italian American Club in Masontown, a lector at St. Terese Roman Catholic Church in Uniontown and active in other community programs.

This is his first time seeking election. Guappone says his vast background in education, curriculum and budget development, will bring an awareness of what needs to be done to have children achieve on standardized tests. He says he will provide the tools to teachers to help point students in the right direction and will help run the school like a business with children as the main product.

Ed Jeffreys, 58, of Uniontown, is a democrat and has been the assistant director of the Fayette County Area Vocational Technical School for three years.

Jeffreys earned a doctorate in technical education and a masters in counseling psychology, a bachelors degree in business as an undergraduate at Penn State and a graduate of West Virginia University.

Jeffreys is on a variety of committees and was the first to be on the former technical committee at Albert Gallatin. Jeffreys was also in the U.S. Army in 1966.

This is the first time Jeffreys has sought office. He wants to help school board members make a difference and believes there's a need to make a difference, to take a proactive approach instead of a reactive approach.

Joe Panek, 48, of Masontown is a democrat who has cross-filed. He has been a coal miner for 28 years for RAG in Waynesburg.

Panek has been married for 25 years to wife Carol "Stalewski" Panek and father of Teresa Panek, 22, Rachel Panek, 21, and Daniel Panek, 16, a sophomore at Albert Gallatin High School.

Panek graduated in 1973 from German Township High School and attended Duquesne University from 1973 to 1975 for business and accounting.

Community involvement for Panek includes being a council member at All Saints Church, a member of Pals Club in Masontown, a coach and assistant coach for girls basketball at Albert Gallatin and involvement in elementary sports like baseball, T-ball, and little league.

A school board member for six years, Panek says he's 100 percent for the students and will do anything to create a good working relationship. He wants to get many things accomplished like the renovation project at the high school and to get air conditioning in the elementary schools. Past accomplishments Panek mentions includes keeping a strict budget for six years and reduced class sizes at the elementary schools.

Steve A. Polink, 81, of Fairchance is a democrat, who has cross-filed. He was involved in public education for 35 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal at Albert Gallatin where he retired in 1983.

He is married to Mary Polink and is father of daughter Stephanie.

Polink earned a bachelor degree in physical education, health and social studies and served in the Marine Corps from 1942 to 1946 and then in the ROTC and Marine Reserves in 1948.

Polink helped with building of the Marine State Park in Butler and served on the Albert Gallatin School Board from 1990 to 1994.

He says the teachers, principals and superintendents should be the ones in the school district making the educational decisions and should be backed-up and supported by the school board.

Jack Stewart, 51, of Point Marion is a democrat, who has cross-filed. He has spent 15 years as a program director for West Virginia University and is married with two children in the eighth and 10th grade.

Stewart earned a bachelor of science from Juniata College and MSW from West Virginia University.

Stewart is on the Albert Gallatin Strategic Planning Committee, Rotary Club, Point Marion Park Commission and Point Marion Youth Association.

Running for the second term, Stewart says he has the experience, qualifications and interests to represent the citizens of the district in this most important elected position.

Candidates Joseph A. Bezjak of Smithfield, John J. Gruskowski of McClellandtown, David Howard of Smithfield, Richard J. Russo of Masontown, Joseph P. Stillwagon, Janet S. Swaney of Fairchance and Keith A. Swaney of Fairchance could not be reached for comment.

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