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|01-17-03: Montezuma man to run for board
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
MONTEZUMA - Rodger Cooper is the first to announce his intention to run
for a seat on the Celina City Schools board of education in November.
The terms of current board members Cindy Piper, Joe Bath and Ken
Fetters expire this year. Thus far, none of the trio have indicated if they intend to seek
Toni Slusser, director of the county's board of election, said two
people, one being Cooper, picked up candidacy papers for city school board this week.
Deadline for filing for November's general election is Aug. 21.
Cooper, who came to public attention when he addressed board members at
Monday's meeting during which the board voted to close Franklin Elementary School in
Montezuma, on Thursday said he feels the school closing was decided behind closed doors
prior to the vote.
"Like the rest of the community, the first I knew of the plan to
close Franklin was when I read it in The Daily Standard a few days before they actually
did it. I don't think secrecy is the way to handle such a big issue," said Cooper,
35, who moved his family to Montezuma about 16 months ago when he accepted the position as
general manager of Createk Corporation in Portland, Ind.
Cooper said he researched the area carefully before purchasing a home
in Montezuma and now feels disappointed that he didn't learn about the school district's
"I talked with the administration of East, West and the high
school and no one ever mentioned there were such big problems," he told The Daily
Standard in an interview Thursday afternoon at his home, which overlooks Franklin school.
Cooper said he feels there's something very wrong with the leadership
of the school district at this point, and believes his business and motivational skills
can help solve district problems.
"You just can't successfully operate any business in an
environment of negativity and mistrust. The district is not just six or seven people
sitting on a school board. It's also thousands of other people in the community who should
be motivated to work as a support team for the school," he said.
Cooper said he's learned the value of teamwork through his experience
serving in the U.S. Army and as a player in the National Football League.
He played for the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders in the early
1990s after a couple years playing for Ohio State University.
"No, I wasn't a big star and didn't play pro ball a long time. The
personal importance to me was that I played ball at OSU and then in the NFL after my high
school guidance counselor (in Findlay) told me I should give up my dream because I wasn't
big enough to play ball and wasn't smart enough to go to OSU," said Cooper, who has
two young children, one attending Franklin.
Negative thinking is an obstacle in Cooper's opinion and he believes
Superintendent Fred Wiswell and school board members are "concentrating on
"Wiswell's whole plan last Monday was negative, negative,
negative. There was no indication of strategic planning, implementation, future
development and most importantly of community unification. I believe I can bring these
things to the board and that's why I'm running," he said.
Cooper said he "loves the Celina community" and doesn't
intend to "pull out because of the Franklin closing."
"This is a small community where everybody matters. I love
that," said Cooper, who is a first timer in seeking public office.
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