WESTERHOLD: Koonce takes a leap of faith

Managing editor, Sandusky Register It might be a leap of faith for Sandusky residents who have never met Richard Koon
Matt Westerhold
May 24, 2010

Managing editor, Sandusky Register

It might be a leap of faith for Sandusky residents who have never met Richard Koonce to vote for him Tuesday. But for me, it will be easy to cast my ballot for Koonce in the Sandusky school board race. I know his deep commitment and passion for the schools, for students and for the families that live in Sandusky.

That was obvious long before Koonce took his own leap earlier this month when he bid $5 to buy three vacant schools. But his bid and his follow-through to buy Campbell, Madison and Barker schools is perfectly symbolic of his commitment. His drive and devotion are inspiring, and, above all else, a call to action.

The vote last week by the current members of the Sandusky school board to accept $5 for all three schools likely might be the exact right decision for the school district. Board members may have rushed it through before the election Tuesday, for whatever reason, but the district should no longer carry the cost of maintaining buildings it no longer uses.

Now Richard is set to personally take on that responsibility and the challenge is immense; a huge leap of faith. His drive to serve is what drove him to buy the schools, and he is in the process of doing that without a hint of profit motive in his heart. He's not looking to flip a property or two to put money in his pocket.

But he might have to sell one or more of the school buildings, if he can, if he's to keep his goal of establishing a center where students and their families can be community with each other to face the challenges we all have. And that goal is just one part of Richard's hope, desire and plan to help create a better Sandusky. His vision goes well beyond the bricks and mortar of buildings.

A man who knows something about life and death, a local physician, told me recently that when it comes right down to it, rich or poor, white or black, happy or sad, we all end up dying. "Death is inevitable," he said. "It's all about the journey. Life is all about the journey."

Koonce's journey took an unexpected and life-altering change when he became the successful bidder for the school buildings. And now the challenge is one he likely never before contemplated, and he is only beginning to quantify. Richard is just getting started planning a strategy.

Here's what I know: He won't succeed without a leap of faith from residents, churches and local community foundations. And the commitments from those various groups will need to be new and perhaps deeper than any prior drives to succeed.

Richard Koonce has a dream and a vision worthy of support like never before from across the spectrum of Sandusky residents, businesses and civic groups.

Keep charging forward, Richard. It doesn't matter how the election turns out for you on Tuesday. Your plate is full, but you can handle whatever challenges are before you and whatever challenges are yet to come.