Houston Board of Education selects Hughes to fill seat

PERRY – The winner was a no-show Thursday evening as the Houston County Board of Education unanimously selected Helen M. Hughes to fill the District 5 seat left vacant by the March death of Pamela Greenway.

A field of nine applicants was winnowed down to three finalists last week by the board: Hughes, Lisa Coody and T. Rabb Wilkerson.

Board Chairman Tom Walmer said Hughes told him last week she and her husband had long ago made plans for the date and would not be able to attend.

“I’m proud of the board, and I know all things happen for a reason,” Coody said after the brief meeting. “I know Helen will do a great job.”

Hughes, 53, of Bonaire, is a former teacher and current vice president of Hughes Honda in Warner Robins. She has been a volunteer in the past at Bonaire Elementary and Bonaire Middle schools, has served on facilities committees for the board, and served on the oversight committee for the 2002 and 2007 SPLOST votes.

In her remarks last week, Hughes said she views her role as a new board member to “first, learn what’s going on,” to support the school system and encourage its continued development.

She added that her business and volunteer experiences have helped her understand financial processes and she appreciates the community support the school system enjoys. Hughes will serve until next year’s countywide election, and she also told board members last week she intends to run for the post in 2010. Greenway won re-election last November to another four-year term. The winner of next year’s countywide election would serve the remainder of Greenway’s term and be up for re-election in 2012.

Before the board’s vote, members one by one stated they appreciated the quantity and quality of applicants for the post.

“I would look forward to working with any of the three on the team,” said board member Marianne Melnick.

Board Vice Chairman Toby Hill said he hoped that the two not selected would not think of this as an end of their efforts. “I hope you will not see this as the end of your public service journey,” Hill said. “There will be opportunities to serve the public in the future. View this as the beginning.”

To contact writer Jake Jacobs, call 923-6199, extension 305.