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Baker, Horton switch seats

WINTON – Four of the five members of the Hertford County Board of Education were in their seats here during Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting.

As things turned out, the absent member will find himself in a new seat upon his return to the next meeting (Jan. 26).

Ronald “Ron” Baker was selected as the new chairman of the local school board, but not after a few moments of soul searching by the outgoing board leader, John Horton.

As is customary, the school board conducts the annual process of selecting its leadership during its December meeting. That effort was conducted by Dr. Michael Basham, Hertford County Schools Superintendent.

Dr. Basham opened the floor for nominations for board chairman. Dennis Deloatch offered Horton’s name, praising him for sound leadership over the past two years. However, Deloatch’s motion did not generate a second.

J. Wendell Hall, citing tradition that the board normally changes it chairman every two years, then nominated Baker, who has served as vice-chairman since 2006. David Shields seconded the motion.

Upon the nomination period coming to a close, Dr. Basham called for a vote, stating he would do so in reverse order of nomination.

Baker received two votes (Hall and Shields) while Horton collected one vote (Deloatch). It was pointed out to Dr. Basham that Horton’s nomination came without a second, but the vote was allowed to stand.

Hall then observed that he did not hear Horton cast a vote, which he did not during the process.

“I abstain from voting,” Horton said. “I wish Ron was here tonight…that would settle this.”

After a few moments of assessing the situation, Horton said, “This kind of puts me in a pickle. This could be complicated, but I will not make it that way so I’m voting for Ron Baker.”

In the process of selecting the board’s vice-chairman, Hall nominated Horton, a move seconded by Shields. That motion was approved by a 4-0 vote.

“I thank this board for allowing me two years of leadership,” Horton said following the voting process. “I appreciate your confidence and I appreciate your support in selecting me as your vice-chairman.”

In Baker’s absence, Horton, now as vice-chairman, conducted the remainder of the meeting.