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MATTOON -- The Mattoon school board voted Tuesday evening to approve the purchase of property off of south U.S. Route 45 as the new site for the district's bus barn and transportation office.

The district will purchase 2.8 acres at 4814 Paradise Road, the former M & M Pump Supply property, from Barak Properties, LLC of Olney for $325,000. The district's contractors are scheduled to start repurposing the property later this week in preparation for the district's transportation operations moving in there on Sept. 1.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Tom Sherman said 4814 Paradise Road is bisected by a city street, Carter Lane. Sherman said the 12,720-square-foot building on the west side of the lane offers space for housing the district's transportation office, washing and working on buses indoors, and storing maintenance supplies. He said buses will be parked in the fenced yard on the east side of the lane.

District Transportation Director Mark Nelson said he looks forward to moving into a newly renovated bus barn and transportation office that will likely be admired by other school districts. Nelson said he also will be glad to move Mattoon's bus barn away from its current location next to the crumbling former Brown Shoe Factory property, 1400 Piatt Ave.

The district recently sold the former Brown Shoe Factory property. The district's transportation office is currently located nearby in a former bread store building, 1320 DeWitt Ave. Superintendent Larry Lilly has said the district plans to continue to house its food service office and supply storage space in the former bread store building, and store maintenance supplies there.

Sherman said the district was able to negotiate down from the original asking price of $399,000 for 4814 Paradise Road. He said this resulted in the sale price for the building there being $25.55 per square foot.

"That is a huge savings there, a really good deal," Sherman said. The building there was constructed in 1983 and received an addition in 2003.

The district's fuel depot is also slated to move to 4814 Paradise Road. Sherman said the City of Mattoon currently shares the district's fuel depot at the former Brown Shoe Factory property. He said the city is welcome to continue sharing a fuel depot with the district at the new location, but may opt to create a depot of its own at the new Mattoon Public Works Department building along DeWitt Avenue East.

In other matters, the board voted to hire Amanda Gibson as the assistant principal at Riddle Elementary School. Chris Bough is retiring from this position. Gibson has worked full time at Riddle for nine years: eight years with fourth grade and one year with third. She has master's degrees in school administration, businesses administration, and elementary education.

The board also voted to purchase a maintenance truck with snow removal equipment and tool boxes from Pilson Auto of Mattoon for $42,784. The new truck will replace an old one that will be turned over for use by the high school building trades program.

Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @RobStroud

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