February 07, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Persistence paid off for Jim Mollerstrom, who was appointed to the La Grande School Board Thursday night.

Mollerstrom will fill the remaining 1 1/2 years of Sandra Roths term. Roth resigned Jan. 15, citing differences of opinion with the board and district superintendent.

Mollerstrom was one of two applicants. The other was Merle Comfort, who served on the board for eight years in the 1990s.

This is the third time Mollerstrom has attempted to land a school board position. He lost a close election last March and applied for the opening created when Shari Bennett resigned in December.

That kind of persistence and commitment is admirable, said school board member Kathleen Cathey.

Board member Steve Joseph said that deciding between Mollerstrom and Comfort was very difficult because of the quality of the candidates. Joseph told Comfort that, In fact, I would resign if I know you would take my spot.

Mollerstrom is well known for his community service.

As a volunteer, Mollerstrom has

or is serving on the La Grande Middle Schools site council, the school districts budget committee, the La Grande Education Foundations board of directors and the Union County Juvenile Crime Prevention Committee. He also has served as a community representative for the school districts strategic design program, is a youth sports coach and is involved in other community service work.

He served as president of the La Grande Preschool, which closed in the mid-90s.

Mollerstrom said he is interested in getting the school district and the business community to work together on issues that impact schools.

He hopes that this would promote economic development and help with the recruitment and retention of family-wage jobs.

Mollerstrom has lived in La Grande for 21 years. As president of his own company, Community Resource Services, he serves as a consultant for juvenile justice and youth development programs.

Mollerstrom and his wife, Sue Taylor, have three children.

Two attend the high school and one is enrolled at the middle school.

Mollerstrom grew up in Silverton. He earned a bachelors degree in corrections from Western Oregon University

in Monmouth with a minor in psychology.