Sheri Samson
One of the two brand new buses purchased for Mineral County School District is displayed. The buses are custom built to fit the unique needs of a rural school with long distance travel.

As transportation director for the Mineral County School District, Will Gemelke was proud to showcase the two 2018 Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2, 72 passenger buses as a tribute to the longstanding endeavor which began under former director, Ed Stidham’s efforts.

“He was the one that did all the research and spent the time ironing out all the details, including the funding and ordering. All I did was make the final call to order them, then I had the fun of receiving them into our district fleet,” Gemelke admitted.

Gemelke was right. In November of 2016, school board member, Donna Glazier made the motion approving the resolution to purchase the two buses in the amount of $256,125.50. The following year, on Aug. 3, the current School Board reviewed the final quotes, lender’s submissions and loan types, in an effort of finalization, after receiving the proper reviews by the Department of Taxation, who approved financing for a low interest, medium-term loan, not to exceed five years. The school district accepted the bid given by Financial Horizons Credit Union and were pleased to come in under the percentage rate required. while meeting the criteria set forth by the Department of Taxation.

With an active bus schedule including daily school transport within town and throughout the rural county, plus a heavy schedule of sport groups requiring long, round-trip commutes and regular school field trips, Gemelke shared that the school district is finally positioned to have two brand new buses, which have warranties and longevity. “These buses are properly equipped to carry our passengers in a dependable way with updated, state-of-the-art safety equipment on board.”

Custom-built for specifications unique to the Mineral County district needs, every reliable accommodation was reviewed and accepted into the build plan within budget.

In the past, the Mineral County School District was a recipient of used buses, generated by other districts retiring a bus. With these new buses, one is equipped with a wheel-chair lift and one is stationed in Schurz. In a review of the current fleet, Gemelke disclosed that two buses have been deemed out-of-service and will be appropriately sold at auction. Other aging buses offer smaller sizing, but can still be utilized for transportation that meets the criteria of a smaller group, closer distances or by passenger need.

Gemelke met with current bus driver Kay Stidham, (wife of previous transportation director, Stidham) and Michele Hart, Financial Services Supervisor for Financial Horizons in Hawthorne. Each reflected on the successful accomplishment the two buses represented, with Hart as a leader in the booster program and Kay as a longtime bus driver within the district.

“I never thought it would ever happen. Ed would dream about this and worked hard at seeing it come about. He still drives bus for the high school sports teams. I know he is proud to have brought new buses to the school district,” shared Kay.