The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 7, 2011

Seneca district changes transportation services

SENECA, Mo. — The Board of Education has awarded the district’s transportation contract to a new bus company.

The switch this week comes a little more than a month after the district’s current school bus contractor, Gale Webb, was charged with several counts of assault, though administrators said the change of contractors was unrelated to his pending charges.

The board on a 4-3 vote approved a three-year contract, to begin in the fall, with Randy Small Transportation. The Lexington, Mo.-based company submitted a bid of $1.826 million, which was the lowest proposal received.

Webb Transportation, which submitted a bid of $1.92 million, is operated by Webb, who has operated the district’s bus routes for many years and is currently charged with five counts of third-degree assault in Newton County.

Superintendent Steve Wilmoth said his recommendation that the district contract with Randy Small after several years with Webb was for financial reasons.

When asked if the pending charges against Webb played a role in his recommendation, Wilmoth said: “That has nothing to do with the decision.”

Webb, 73, was charged in early March with five misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault. According to a probable-cause affidavit, the allegations were brought by students riding the bus he drove, and the incidents allegedly took place primarily in the fall of 2010.

Webb could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday through his business. Ross Rhoades, the Neosho attorney representing him, declined to comment on his client’s case.

Joe Caputo, board president at the time, confirmed that Webb had driven a school bus for Seneca schools and that he currently does not drive for the district.

For more on this story, pick up a copy of Friday’s Joplin Globe or register for our E-Edition at joplinglobe.com.

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