LaHarpe gets grade school

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

LaHarpe got its school.
USD 257 board members voted unanimously Monday night to accept the town’s bid for $1, which had remained the only bid for the 30-year-old school. It was more of a gesture of goodwill to the small town, than an effort to investigate every avenue of possible revenue for the building.
Real estate agents from Salina, who specialize in the auction sale of school buildings, told board members they could expect a bid of $25,000 to $30,000 for the building, minus about $1,500 for 30 to 50 days of marketing.
Harry Lee, LaHarpe councilman and former school board member, said that accepting LaHarpe’s bid of $1 would “be a generous gesture by the board,” and the good will incurred “would exceed the money you would realize,” if sold at auction.
Board member Deanne Burris agreed: “One dollar is as beneficial to us as $30,000.”
Lee also noted that many in LaHarpe thought acquiring the building would be a positive step forward for the community, provide it with opportunities to grow services and be a source of pride for residents.
In a letter accompanying LaHarpe’s bid, discussion centered on moving city hall functions to the school and using part of it for community functions. Some areas may be utilized as a library and a museum. In addition to classrooms, the building has a central office, gymnasium and kitchen area.
Tony Leavitt favored keeping the building’s owner local. “I have a concern that we would have no control who bought the building,” if the bidding were put on a worldwide format such as the Internet.
Leavitt then made the motion to sell the building to LaHarpe for a dollar. Buck Quincy seconded and the vote was unanimous.
Two storage buildings near the school were included in the transaction. Don Burns, maintenance director, said they contained some bus seats and a few other things.
Raymond Cooper, of Hawley Honey Co., had expressed interest in the structure, but was a no-show at the meeting.

RANDY SLOCUM, whose three sons attend Humboldt schools, asked permission for a Humboldt bus to drive three-tenths of a mile into USD 257 to pick them up. Slocum said a Humboldt bus often drove by his place to avoid a low-water bridge, but was not permitted to stop. The Slocum children have to be taken to the district boundary, Maryland Road, to have access to the bus.
USD 257’s policy has been not to permit children to be bused from within the district. Board members took no action, which left the policy in force.
Each day two buses from Marmaton Valley (Moran) pick up about 80 children who live in USD 257 at the east boundary line, 2800 Street, just north of the Allen County Landfill.
Bids for materials — $26,478.97 by Diebolt Lumber was the lower of two — and professional services for the district’s building trades program house were accepted. Only one bid each was received for plumbing, $7,500 from Northside Plumbing, LaHarpe; heating and air-conditioning, Dale’s Sheet Metal, Iola, $4,304; electrical, Stout Electric, Iola, $45 an hour to train students and $80 an hour for labor. The house will be built in the Cedarbrook Addition.
The house built last school year in Gas remains unsold. After receiving no bids, board members voted to release it to local real estate agents for marketing.
Leavitt asked that board members be given a monthly financial report from the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, which he thought would better keep them in the know of “what’s going on there.” Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, said he would make arrangements.
Board members were told that 27 adults were enrolled in classes through the alternative school in Gas that will permit them to complete credits needed to earn a high school diploma. David Grover, high school principal, proposed the program in the spring, noting that some adults needed only one credit for a diploma. Information about the program is available at the high school office, 365-4715.

FOLLOWING four executive sessions, board members voted unanimously to terminate Gene Weatherbie’s employment as a maintenance worker with two weeks notice. Weatherbie has been a district employee about five years. No reasons were given.
Also, Jacob Sanchez was hired as a technology paraprofessional.