05/03/12 The Plymouth School Board voted unanimously on Tuesday night to grant the authority to Assistant Superintendent Rodger Smith to continue to iron out the details for school bus maintenance with Wiers. Currently, routine maintenance and repairs are made at the school’s bus garage located off Berkley Street. The school corporation has a fleet of 42 buses including the four they keep as spares. Rick Scott, Transportation Director, along with several bus drivers and two transportation department employees were at the meeting with questions concerning the proposal that could move the operation to Wiers in Plymouth.
If a contract can be ironed out and approval given by both legal representatives from Wiers and the school corporation, the matter could come before a vote on June 5.
Speaking for Wiers was owner Tom Wiers. Wiers said they would be looking a long-term service contract of ten years. He indicated that there would be a fixed monthly charge for the services. The buses would be housed in a fenced designated parking area at Wiers in the Industrial Park. Smith explained that the move would be advantageous and an added value. Smith said, “We need to find ways to spend less.” Smith said he used similar arrangements when he was with Kendallville and John Glenn Schools. He said, “It’s all who you partner with.”
Superintendent Daniel Tyree said the space now occupied by the bus garage is needed for vocational classroom space.
Board member Larry Holloway asked if Wiers would have fuel at their location. Smith explained that Scott would continue to use the open market system that he uses to purchase fuel. Wiers said they don’t have fuel access for the buses.
Todd Samuelson, board member, asked how the insurance would work. Wiers and Smith said each party would hold insurance.
Bus driver Paul Costello said “Is there a problem with the maintenance the way it is.” Both Smith and Tyree assured all those present that they are very satisfied with the work done currently. Tyree said, “This has nothing to do with the quality. This has to do with space.” Tyree added, “When we had the last building project, we promised the community there would be no new building projects until 2020.” He said later in the meeting that every inch of Plymouth High School is being used.
Sherrie Martin, who has driven a bus for Plymouth for 29 years, said, “I’ve never been afraid to take a bus out because of the crew.” She then asked about the availability of electrical outlets that are needed for at least 25 buses in inclement weather. Wiers suggested that there were electrical outlets available and it would be one of the items to be considered.
If a contract with Wiers is approved, the service would begin on July 1. Both Scott and Transportation Secretary Brenda Uceny would remain in the current office space. Uceny questioned how her interaction with bus drivers would take place. Smith said they use radios now and that would continue.
Mechanic Mike Fisher has been offered a job at Weirs. He did share his concerns at the meeting by asking if his pay, seniority and benefits would remain the same. Tyree asked that Fisher talk with office personnel at the corporation.
Among other items still to be agreed upon is how buses arriving back late from extra-curricular activities would access the Wiers parking area and how emergency repairs could be handled.
Wiers was founded in 1964 and currently has three locations (Plymouth, Logansport, and Lafayette) and 90 employees. They recently attained an ISO 9001:2008 certification.