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Polls closing in 20 minutes; turnout appears to be low throughout area
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (April 6, 2010) — Voters in Pulaski County have barely half an hour left to cast their ballots in today’s city council and school board elections before the polls close at 7 p.m.

Turnout has been lower than expected, according to Waynesville poll worker John Morrissey. At 6:20 p.m., only 531 people had cast their ballots in the Waynesville precinct, which typically has some of the county’s highest total number of voters.

Similar low turnout is common elsewhere as well, Morrissey said.

“From what I’ve heard from St. Robert, it looks like between us we will be lucky to get 800 or 900 votes,” Morrissey said. “It’s lower than usual for a school board election, but not as low as one of the February special elections that nobody knows about.”

St. Robert city voters in Ward I have a contested city council race and those in the rural part of the area have a fire district tax proposal. Everyone in the cities of Waynesville and St. Robert, as well as the rural areas and Fort Leonard Wood residents, have a four-way contested race for the Waynesville school board.

“This turnout surprises me a little since there is a contested school board race and the fire tax and a council race in St. Robert,” Morrissey said. “We’d like to see more people come out to vote.”

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. tonight. Those who have questions about their polling place may contact the county clerk's office at 774-4701.

Crocker voters will be voting at the Pulaski County Health Department office, not the Crocker City Hall as in previous years. Due to a hazardous material train wreck, the Swedeborg precinct has been moved from the Swedeborg school to the Crocker polling place.

St. Robert voters cast ballots at the St. Robert Community Center; Waynesville voters cast ballots at Waynesville Middle School. The Hooker Precinct, which includes the area east of St. Robert, casts ballots at the St. Robert Community Center for the April election rather than the Sunset Village location.

Laquey voters cast ballots at Laquey school.

Dixon voters cast ballots at the Dixon Senior Center.

Richland voters cast ballots at the Richland City Hall.

Voters in the Big Piney precinct on the far southeast end of Pulaski County cast ballots at Palace Church.

In the immediate Waynesville-St. Robert area, voters have three contested races and one ballot issue:

• In the Waynesville R-VI School Board, which includes Fort Leonard Wood and the cities of Waynesville and St. Robert, as well as the rural areas stretching from Buckhorn to Devil's Elbow, four candidates, incumbent Lori Laughlin and challengers Nathan Purdome, Marcus Davis and Dorsey Newcomb, are vying for two terms of three years each. Here's a previous article:

Waynesville school board candidates offer varied backgrounds in race

• In the city of St. Robert, most aldermen are running unopposed except for incumbent Ward I Alderman Ralph Cook; Charles Slider is also seeking the seat. Municipal Judge Tom Julian is also running for re-election against two opponents, Gerald Marker and Kenneth Hawley. Here are links to previous articles:

St. Robert council candidates agree on need for growth, differ on methods

Thomas Julian faces two challengers in race for St. Robert Municipal Judge

• For residents of the Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District who live outside the cities of St. Robert or Waynesville, voters have been asked to pass a property tax increase that would allow the district to keep its current full-time staff rather than reverting to a mostly volunteer district after a current federal grant expires. There's no organized opposition to the ballot proposal, and this is an "op ed" piece by Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko explaining the fire district's reasons for seeking to remain a full-time fire district.

Waynesville firefighters outline reasons for promoting tax increase

In outlying areas of Pulaski County, most city council candidates face no opposition. An exception is in Crocker, where incumbent Ward II Alderman Charles Stroburg faces a challenger, Denise York. Here are links to previous articles:

Two Crocker council candidates share different visions for the community

There's also a four-way race for two positions on the Crocker R-II School Board between incumbents Don Mayhew and Kris York and challengers Mark Sasfy and Kelly Newcomb. Here's a link to previous articles:

Crocker school board race draws four candidates seeking two positions

In addition, there's a ballot issue in Swedeborg seeking a property tax increase that is likely to be needed to prevent the district from having to merge with another district. Swedeborg voters also have a three-way race between incumbent board members Greg Black and Judy Moss and challenger Libby Poulson.

Here's prior coverage of the tax issue:

Swedeborg plans $10,000 payment tonight on tuition bill to Richland

Swedeborg seeking ways to cut costs, considers asking voters to OK tax levy

Dixon city voters have no contested alderman races, but they do have a proposal to raise the city's library tax levy to the same level that residents elsewhere in Pulaski County pay to support their countywide library. Dixon's library was forced to close due to financial problems and the tax levy vote would allow it to reopen.

In the Dixon school district, five candidates, Tina Vrba, Tommy Nichols, Steve Roberson, Robbie Yoakum and Patrick Duncan are running for two three-year terms.

Elsewhere in the county:

• Richland voters have a contested race only in Ward III, where candidates Ronny Leonard, Jason Lobland and Paul F. Geddes, Jr., are seeking a two-year term on the city council. In the Richland school district, candidates Eric Graves, Tom Murray and Kathleen Henson are running for two three-year terms.

• Laquey voters have three candidates running for three positions, but the arrangement is somewhat unusual. Incumbent Danny Click and challengers Mary Ann Miller and Frank Norris are running for two three-year terms, but there's also an unexpired one-year term caused by a resignation for which no candidate filed. While anyone could be elected to that slot, it's most likely that the candidate receiving the least votes for the three-year term will be selected for the one-year term.

• The Plato R-V School District, which covers northern Texas County as well as the Big Piney area of far southeastern Pulaski County, has a four-way race between incumbent DeWayne Baker, former board member Pete Scurlock, and challengers Brandi Niebruegge Couch and Mickey Bowers.

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