When Byng School District voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 14, they will be participating in a rather unusual race.  It’s perfectly legal and above-board, it’s just that it doesn’t happen often.  In the 50 or so years that I’ve lived in the Byng community, I would be willing to wager that I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times there has been  a School board election.  (This is actually the third race on record.)

Jeff Case, the incumbent, was appointed to the board when Jerry Don Christian, a veteran board member, retired last year. Jerry and Debbie Christian’s daughter, Jerika, was offered a job as an elementary teacher at Byng,  but she could not take the job if her father was on the school board.  Jerry retired.

Jeff has enjoyed serving on the school board.  The son of Wayne and Katy Case, he grew up in Byng and attended school here.  After graduation he enrolled in Oklahoma Baptist University and graduated from there. With his wife and three daughters, he lived and worked in Oklahoma City for 12 years but was, as he says, really pleased to move back in the Byng area about three years ago and to have their daughters, Rhyanna, Erin and Kelli, as students in Byng.  Jeff is general manager for Bedre Chocolates, a Chickasaw enterprise.

Challenging Jeff in the election is Shelly Cole. With her husband, William D.,  and three children, Shelly moved to the area nine years ago from Montana. They are native New Yorkers. Shelly says she has become well acquainted with Byng School and its teachers.  She has a daughter, Ashley, a junior; Ben, a sophomore, and A.J. an eighth grader.  Her husband is  a rancher.

Shelly says she is  interested in community service.  “We’re members of St, Joseph’s Catholic Church, and we’ve been involved with community projects there.  As the  owner of a mortgage business, I’ve worked with budgets and  am familiar with finance. I’d like to do anything I can to help Byng teachers and students.

Jeff agrees the school board plays a vital role in determining goals of the school and helping it reach high standards. “I’d really like to encourage everyone to vote,” he says.  We have over 1,000 registered voters in this precinct, and I’d really like to see a good turn-out of voters. 

Polls are open 12 hours on Valentine’s Day, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., so come to Byng City Hall and cast your vote for the school board member of your choice.

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Rural people have unique problems that folks in towns don’t  often have.  One of these problems is field rats — not mice, but rats.  Freda and Bob Flatt can testify to what a nuisance  rats can be. The Flatts have a new Ford mini-van which they bought last fall when they hooked a U-Haul trailer on it and transported a load of furniture to her son, Nick, in Portland, Ore.  They’ve never had any trouble with their vehicle until last week when they discovered that rats had chewed the wiring to its engine.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Freda says.  “It wasn’t just that they’d chewed the insulation off them; there was a gap of two or three inches where they’d taken the whole thing.  We towed the car up to Klymer’s Garage.  Willard, the owner and mechanic, had to order the wiring. He installed it, and the car was fine for a day or two.  Meanwhile, we put out rat poison all over the place  and we set a live trap, but the only thing we caught was a very unhappy skunk.”

Then it happened again.  The  rats came back and, once again, ate the engine’s wiring just at a time when the Flatts really needed to go to Arkansas to visit her niece, Lynn, who was very ill.  Klymer was able to get additional wiring in a few days and to install it.

Freda and Bob are doing one thing differently now.  They’re leaving the hood up on their vehicle at night.  Experts have told them that rats like the coziness of closed-in spaces so they can build a nest. 

I can relate to their problem.  Early last September we notice that the air conditioner was blowing like crazy, but no cool air was coming out.  We called an electrician who told us a rat had chewed the wire to the electrical supply.  He mended it in less than two minutes but warned us to get some rat poison out on either side of the wall to which the central unit was installed.  “It will happen again,” he said.

Sure enough, before the electrician had time to return home, the rats had chewed the wires again.  George was able to fix it this time, and we put out  cubes of rat poison.  We  found one huge field rat dead in the garage that night and two more the next day.  We’ve never had any more trouble, but I have some rat poison on hand now, just in case.

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We have learned that Jared Vogt has been placed on the list for a lung transplant.   Jared is the son of David Vogt and the grandson of Kenneth Vogt.  He has suffered from cystic fibrosis since birth.   Doctors had predicted he would not live past about 15 years of age, but he has now finished high school and is 19.   Our prayers are with you, Jared!

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Bobbie Vick, one of my friends, is a genealogy buff who has been doing research on her and her husband Robert’s families.  She is seeking  additional information so they can have stones placed on graves of these ancestors.   She is looking for any information on the Samuel Isaacs family.  Samuel was born in 1815 in Tennessee and married  Sarah Jane in 1840.  Bobbie needs to know dates of death for both the man and his wife.   She is also looking for information on Alex Washington Vick, 1880-1963. He was married to Martha Winn and, according to family stories, was a banjo player.

Anyone having  information on  these people may call Bobbie at (580) 332-6945 or email her at bobbievick@wnconnect,com..

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