School board members mark last meeting

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Lincoln County Board of Education bid farewell Monday nightto a pair of its members who will not return after the Christmasholidays.

Educational District Three member Joann Holmes and ED Fourmember Steve Rushing, both of whom chose not to run for anotherterm, cast their final votes as board members. Incoming ED Threemember Ricky Welch and ED Four member Jack Case, both of whom woncontested races in the Nov. 4 general election, will replace thepair when meetings resume in January.

Superintendent Terry Brister praised Holmes, the board’slongest-serving member at 19 years, and Rushing, the county’ssheriff, for their service. He said he would watch them leave theboard with “mixed emotions” – especially concerning Holmes, whom hehas known for years.

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“Years ago in the 1960s, I’m running around McComb, Miss., as a kidand guess who feeds me during the day?” Brister recounted. “I neverdreamed I would have the opportunity to serve with Mrs. Holmesduring my career.”

Brister said there has been “a lot of water under the bridge” sinceHolmes took office in 1989, saying he had basically learned histrade as Loyd Star Attendance Center principal, and latersuperintendent, under Holmes’ guidance on the board.

While Brister was serving at Loyd Star, he said Rushing was alwaysthere to step forward and help.

“I’ll tell you what he’s got on his mind – he didn’t care whatdecision we made here, as long as it benefited the kids,” Bristersaid of the sheriff. “I understand his decision to leave, becausehe can serve Lincoln County in a bigger capacity as sheriff than hecan here. If he hadn’t have got that position, we’d have held ontohim.”

Holmes said her biggest challenge during life after school boardservice would be filling the newly available time slots.

“When you’ve been going to school board meetings for 19 years, itseems kind of funny – you don’t know what you’re going to do on thefirst and third Monday nights,” she said.

Holmes said she would miss serving alongside the other boardmembers, noting that all the board members have closerelationships. She said she was most proud of leaving behind aBogue Chitto Attendance Center that has been updated andrefurbished basically from the ground up.

It’s been a long ride for Holmes, but now it’s over for good, shesaid.

“I’ll probably still go to a few school events, but I’m going toturn the reins over,” she said.

Rushing, meanwhile, plans to remain associated with the districtthrough his position as sheriff and as a father.

“I have three kids in the district, and I will help out any way Ican through the sheriff’s department,” he said. “Being on the boardhas been a great honor, and I’m going to miss it.”

Rushing said he was proud to be leaving the district in good shapewith improved academics, new facilities and stable finances.

“I’m most proud of the academic levels,” he said. “West Lincoln(Attendance Center) has been a level five for two or three yearsnow. Some of our grade levels have been among the top in the statethe last few years. We offer quality education for the kids inLincoln County.”