Bention tapped to fill Crowder seat on school board
The Union County Board of Education unanimously selected Jim Bention Sr. to fill the vacant District 1 seat Tuesday. The vote was 8-0, with Board member John Collins recusing himself.
The seat was previously held by John Crowder, who died in March after serving for 31 years on the Monroe City Schools board and the Union County Board of Education.
Bention’s appointment is until the next general election, so he will serve as an appointment until November.
“I feel a great sense of gratitude to carry on the legacy of John Crowder,” Bention said. “He meant a lot to me personally because he had a heart for what he did.”
Bention said he and Crowder spoke often over the years and it always centered around the children of Union County and education.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to add to the work that I have already done in the Union County Public Schools System,” he said. “It is an honor to have a unanimous vote. I want to bring that type of unifying aspect to the board.”
This is not Bention’s first time sitting on a board. He served as the chairman and vice chairman of the quasi-judicial Union County Board of Adjustment, he was chairman of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, he served as a member, vice president and president of the Monroe High School Parent-Teacher-Student Organization and numerous other positions in the community.
“Serving the community is part of what I’ve done over these last few years,” he said.
He said he hopes and plans to do similar things that he did on the Board of Adjustment and will look to help.
Bention’s four children graduated from Monroe High School and he currently serves as their their head cross country coach. He is
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proud of Monroe High School and District 1.
He also “vehemently”disagrees with “this thing called the image of Monroe High School.”
“When people say Monroe High School needs to be fixed, that is an incorrect statement. When they say District 1 needs to be fixed, that is an incorrect statement,” Bention said.
He said Monroe High School, along with Forest Hills, Parkwood and Piedmont have done nothing but educate the student population of Union County and create great citizens.
Two of Bention’s children are in the U.S. Marine Corps (Bention was a member of the USMC from 1979 until 1992), another is in the medical insurance industry and his child who graduated in 2010 will graduate from the biology department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this weekend.
“I’m not the exception, there are many young men and women that graduate from Monroe High School as well as the other (schools),” Bention said.
He said he is not in the camp that look at Monroe High School and say it needs to be fixed. He invited people who want to know about Monroe High School to visit and talk to the teachers and administrators.
“Monroe High School doesn’t need to be fixed, what Monroe High School needs is for people to understand that Monroe High School is no different,” he said.
He said he will push to get the assets and funding Monroe High School needs, though noted that every school is struggling and in need of money in some respect.
He said the people of District 1 are his clients and they are who he will advocate for. He said he will work for all of teh students, but his cleints, the ones he is charged to serve, are in District 1.
He noted “Not to put Pastor Jim Bention, Sr. in a box.”
“No one knows what Jim Bention is going to say until he says it,” he said. “I do not live a life of being on anyone’s strings, the only puppeteer in my life is God Almighty and to Him only do I submit myself totally.”
Bention is a pastor at Metrolina Christian Center Church of God in Christ in Monroe. He received a diploma in practical theology from International Seminary in Florida.
He served as chairman of the Union County Republican Party and was the first elected black chairman of either party. He has served as the state chairman of North Carolina Minority Affairs, a local and state chaplain for republican groups and myriad other positions.
“I come to this desire (not just a decision) because I want to ensure the continued service of excellence that was given by Mr. Crowder,” Bention wrote in his letter to the school board. “I will do all to honor him, as well as serve the citizens of this county with the same passion as I have done with the prior positions and commitments of my life.”