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BOE votes to purchase 5 new buses

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
The Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education voted last week to purchase five new school buses from Ward International for $234,272.
This was the second time the bid had come to the table, the first being last month when the bid was challenged. Though the board voted to award the bid at this meeting, the decision was not unanimous.
Board member Danny Benjamin made the motion to award the bid to Ward International, the lowest bidder meeting required specifications.
Board member Jimmy Dukes asked if Bill West, one of the county bus shop supervisors, was present. He was and approached the board table.
Dukes explained that the original bid included a wet sleeve engine, and the board was told that only one company furnished engines with wet sleeves. They were reluctant to get involved with that bid, he continued, because apparently only one company could meet specifications.
And with limited miles put on a bus before it's retired, it was unlikely that engines would have to be rebuilt anyway, he said.
West told the board the school system is running some buses more than 10 years old.
He then asked West if buses running now are safe. West replied that they are.
Dukes said he saw "no need to plunge ahead" and would not be a part of awarding a limited bid.
Benjamin reminded him that bids went out in April. The bids actually went out in February but were considered at the April meeting.
At that meeting, representatives from Empire Trucks contested the board's bid because the specs called for a particular engine with limited availability. The bid was not accepted due to the lack of a motion to do so, and the five buses were to be rebid.
Board member Mike Goolsby said he would like to see the board have more information before buying buses again.
Goolsby, Benjamin, W.J. Grissett and Chairman A.D. Johnson voted to purchase the buses from Ward International
Dukes and Janice Ash voted no.