Second director applicant field features 2 new names

1st-time finalists Strong and
Langford are back in the mix

By THOMAS P. WEAVER
HORIZON Editor
CELINA-Five of the seven people now vying for the director of schools opening here were part of the first applicant list announced nearly two months ago, leaving the field virtually unchanged with the exception of two new additions according to information released by the school system’s central office Monday.
After the deadline to apply passed last Friday at 3 p.m., four out-of-town applicants and three locals had submitted papers in hopes of replacing the retiring Donnie Cherry as the leader of education here in Clay County.
Previous final-four candidate Champ Langford, former lone finalist Jerry Strong, and first-time applicant Diane Becker–a North Carolina native who now resides here and is a former Clay County High School teacher, make up the list of names residents here may be familiar with, while the other qualified candidates include:
• Darrell Wilson of Owensboro, KY,
• Michael Kello of Tamaqua, PA,
• James Ratledge of Maryville, TN, and
• Darrell Treece of Columbia, KY.
Becker and Wilson are the only pair of new names, while the rest applied the first time around.
Kello, Ratledge, and Treece were eliminated before interviews took place, Langford was the first to be cut in post-interview voting, and Strong couldn’t garner the required seven of 10 school board votes to take the job in the first try at filling the position.
Strong did receive six votes of support from the board earlier this month, but, without the seventh coming after multiple voting rounds, the deadlocked board voted to restart the hiring process from the beginning.
The applications of Cherry’s seven possible successors are being reviewed by school board members and the list will be narrowed to those who will receive interviews at the regularly scheduled board meeting next Thursday, March 8 beginning at 6 p.m. at the central office here.
Once the applicant field is narrowed, board members will convene at a special called meeting later in the month where interviews will take place and the board will again consider hiring a new director.
See the March 7 edition of the HORIZON for a list of those to be interviewed and more updates on this ongoing story.