by Ron Gregory
LOGAN — Among items produced at Thursday’s Logan Board of Education meeting are documents that appear to show State Senator Richard Ojeda pushed for creation of a Junior ROTC program in the county while on active duty in Afghanistan.
Ojeda, whose campaign for state senate was based on openness and transparency while touting his military experience, often points out his role in defending the country in Afghanistan.
Apparently, he had time to lobby for creation of the program that eventually provided him employment once he returned home.
Minutes of the February 28, 2013, BOE meeting include remarks from members Mark McGrew and Jim Frye that appear to confirm this activity.
In the minutes approved by the board, McGrew is quoted as saying he was “glad we voted to sign the contract for the JROTC program back in our school. Want to give credit to Richard O’Jeda (sic). (He) contacted me about the ROTC back in the school system. Even corresponded with me while he was in Afghanistan.”
Frye’s remarks included, “Notable the contributions that Major O’Jeda (sic) has made in helping.”
After the board approved the JROTC program, on September 26, 2013, Ojeda was hired as “ROTC Instructor (Senior), pending certification … effective October 8, 2013.” Jeffrey Lambert was employed as junior ROTC instructor at the same meeting.
Despite constant assurances to the public that half of the cost of JROTC was being absorbed by the Army/federal government, financial documents produced Thursday by BOE President Paul Hardesty show that the JROTC program has cost Logan County Schools $650,000, with total reimbursement of $36,569.09 from the federal government/Army.
Another document provided Thursday evening shows Ojeda’s current pay as $58,054.49. Lambert is listed at $36,816.74. The second-highest paid employee is the instructor at Man High School, who receives $49,303.96 annually. With benefits, the total cost for four instructors is listed at $213,840. That would pay for six teachers at entry level or nine service employees.
Documents also show that Ojeda did not submit the proper paperwork for the federal government to reimburse the county for a portion of the salaries.
Ojeda has not responded to repeated questions from this newspaper concerning his health issues and other concerns. His desire for “transparency in government” apparently does not extend to himself. The Senator defeated long-time public official Art Kirkendoll in last year’s Democrat primary after claiming to have been attacked at a political gathering in Logan County. Despite the fact that his wife told the press he had suffered a stroke a few days before the alleged battery, Ojeda has adamantly refused to answer any questions about his long-term health prognosis. In a civil case filed against his alleged assailant, Ojeda did claim “permanent” physical injuries and mental anguish.