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BRV board incumbents stave off challengers

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By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

“Steady as she goes” seemed to be the voters’ command at Blue River Tuesday night as two incumbent board members sailed to victory.

Brian Koontz and Johnny Cross held off challenges from school alums Craig Gibson and Terry Wallen to win new terms.

Both Koontz and Cross woke up Wednesday morning to the news, since Henry County election returns were late in coming.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Koontz said Wednesday morning. “There were four really good candidates. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see any of the others winning as well.”

“I was pleased,” Cross said. “Brian and I were unopposed four years ago. It was great to see other people running and getting involved. I think all four of us knew each other really well.” 

Koontz, whose late mother, Faye, was a beloved BRV teacher, led the field with 917 votes. Only 60 votes separated Gibson from Cross, a two-term incumbent who re-claimed his seat by a 726-666 margin. Wallen tallied 565 votes.

Cross, a 1991 BRV graduate, was a two-sport athlete here and now works as director of quality assurance at Progress Rail in Muncie.

Progress is also what he’s seeking in his school board role.

“I want to be an active part of my children’s education, and help influence progress for our schools,” said Cross, the current secretary of BRV’s School Board.

Gibson, a member of the first Blue River Valley boys basketball sectional championship team, admitted his competitive side was disappointed in the result. But he certainly wasn’t heartbroken and believes the school corporation is in good hands with the incumbents.

“The two guys who won, I have all the confidence in the world in them,” Gibson said.

Wallen, also a former BRV athlete who is known for wearing his Viking headgear at basketball games, said he was not upset by the results.

“It’s the way the people want it,” he said. “Hopefully, those two will keep up the good work and keep the school corporation going in the right direction.”

Koontz said he appreciated the challengers’ interest in the school district.

“I would very much encourage them to run again in two or four years,” Koontz said.

Wallen said he just might.

“I would have been a voice from the outside looking in,” Wallen said. “I don’t have any kids in the school system, so all of the kids would have been my kids. I might run again when the next group is up.”