Cavalcade chairman draws double duty on school board

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

PAWHUSKA — For the second year in a row, the Pawhuska Board of Education’s monthly meeting for July fell on opening day of Cavalcade, the weeklong local rodeo event.

The coincidental scheduling caused a slight dilemma for Jeff Bute, the school board president who also serves as chairman of the Cavalcade Governing Committee.

Although Cavalcade responsibilities prevented him from making it to the school board session last July, Bute was able to be at the latest meeting — which marked the debut of Janet Neufeld as the district’s superintendent. Bute said he was glad circumstances allowed him to attend Monday.

“I would have hated to miss, with it being the first for our new superintendent,” the school board president said.

Pawhuska board members selected Neufeld in May to succeed Dr. Landon Berry, whose resignation was effective June 30. Neufeld recently served as superintendent of school systems in the Salina, Kan., area. She has 30-plus years’ experience as an educator.

District officials temporarily delayed consideration of an appointment to the school board’s vacant Seat No. 3. A special meeting will be scheduled to consider several “quality applicants,” according to Bute. At least five persons have applied for the position. Bute added: “I have no doubt our next board member will come from that group.”

The vacancy resulted from the recent resignation of Chrisi McNeil, a fourth-year member who had been the board’s vice president. McNeil resigned board seat No. 3 due to a policy conflict related to the June hiring of her brother-in-law, Joe Tillman, as Pawhuska High School football coach.

An appointment will presumably be for the duration of McNeil’s term, which would not have expired until 2018, school officials said.

Also announced at Monday’s meeting was the resignation of longtime local elementary schools’ principal Beverly Moore. Moore, a Pawhuska native, has been principal at Indian Camp School since 2010. Prior to that, she had served several years as the principal of Pawhuska Elementary School.

With approximately 1,500 entries in this year’s 70th-annual Cavalcade, the Osage County Fairgrounds has again been transformed into Pawhuska’s temporary Western suburb at the south end of town. Many of the rodeo entrants spend the week at campsites set up by dozens of participating roundup clubs around the OCF’s Ben (Son) Johnson Arena.

As explained by Bute: “We put a city in a city.”

Cavalcade will have evening rodeo performances beginning at 7 p.m. through Saturday and morning shows starting at 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturday’s Cavalcade Parade starts at 10 a.m. in downtown Pawhuska. On Sunday, the Cavalcade Finals will get underway at 11 a.m.

During Tuesday night’s Cavalcade Street Dance in downtown Pawhuska, 17-year-old Josie Zepeda of Bartlesville was named as the winner of the Doenges Bros./KRIG “Country Showdown” singing competition. She defeated two other finalists in winning the honor for the second straight year.

Zepeda will advance to the national contest’s next round of competition, which is Aug. 20 in Tahlequah.