Bazine Going once, going twice ... sold to the second-highest bidder.
When school officials suggested and voters agreed that Bazine Unified School District 304 and Ransom USD 302 couldn't make it on their own anymore and that a merger was in order, it meant one school building would have to close.
The 78-year-old Bazine High School building drew the short straw and shut its doors in May.
But a Brooklyn man bought the building on eBay, offering the school district the $60,000 asking price. Joseph Wolhendler said west-central Kansas would be a good place to locate his Yoshi-ware plastic dinnerware distribution center.
The deal was supposed to be sealed in June, and four or five employees were to be on the payroll by the end of Wolhendler's first year in business. But all of that fell through.
"He had some business problems back in New York," said Scott Corsair, president of the new consolidated school district. "He just basically had to back out for business and personal reasons."
Wolhendler reimbursed the district for its legal fees and title insurance.
But, Corsair said, "he took us out of really trying to sell the building for a month-and-a-half."
During its monthlong listing on eBay, the old brick building had attracted several potential buyers. Corsair said when school officials checked back they found that one of those top bidders was still looking for a Midwest location.
The district eventually accepted the next best offer, $55,000. But JESCO Developments LLC seemed like a good prospect and was looking to move faster than any of the other bidders.
The papers were signed in June, and the first week of July the deed changed hands.
So far JESCO and Wolhendler are quite different. Wolhendler wanted the town to know that his warehouse business was moving in. He even shipped dinnerware to Bazine for the school district's spring awards banquet so residents could get to know the product.
That hasn't been the case with JESCO, which wants to keep its plans quiet.
"He has asked for this to be kept private, and I am trying to respect that," Corsair said.
JESCO already has several different kinds of businesses on both coasts, Corsair said, so the options for Bazine might be a warehouse full of medical supplies or items for a jewelry store.
"He says, 'When I get the right combination and the thing that looks like it's going to work, and if you have a problem with it we won't do it."'
There are limits to what JESCO can do with the building. Hazardous materials are out because the elementary school is only a few yards away, and school officials insist that the building and grounds remain neat.