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By MATTHEW BROWN
Journal Sports Writer
mbrown@sunmulti.com
For once, Toby Hill did not get on a ‘soapbox’ during a Houston County Board of Education meeting … even though his fellow board members and Superintendent Robin Hines provided him one to commemorate Hill’s final appearance.
Hill did not seek re-election to his District 7 at-large seat on the county school board, so his current four-year term concludes at the end of 2012.
Board Chairman Tom Walmer said Hill served the school board proudly for more than eight years, and that his main strength was showing a passion for education and children. Walmer said he saw that displayed when Hill previously worked at the Crossroads Academy.
“I hope he stays in contact,” said Walmer. “We will value his input.
“You never knew what he was going to say.”
In addition to Hill’s dedication to the local school system, Walmer said he was always one for making the best quotes during board meetings. “I’m looking for a yes-no answer,” is Walmer’s favorite (though Hill may not have asked a ‘yes-no’ question).
Though only a part of the school board with Hill for two years, member Jim Maddox also found a favorite statement. Following a piano recital involving elementary school students, Maddox remembered Hill saying that the piano doesn’t care who is playing it. If you put forth the effort, it will sound just as good as anyone else who plays it.
But the board said Hill never said anything that didn’t have some kind of an impact on the school system, even if it meant being critical of the Georgia state legislature.
“I need that,” said Hill when Walmer and Hines unveiled the soapbox.
Saved to make his board member comments last, Hill, with 46 years spent working in education, said each member of the school board is “good at heart,” and that it is a board that doesn’t work on personal agendas.
“Good, honest people will run for office and do their best,” he said. “The best kind of public servant is at the local level.”
David McMahon won the at-large District 7 seat countywide election, and Hill said he is a “great human being” and is confident he will do a great job once he’s sworn in next year.
In regular business, the school board voted unanimously (6-0; board member Skip Dawkins was not in attendance) to approve the purchase of 15 school buses from Bluebird. These are 12 84-seat buses at $115,723 each and three 39-seat handicap accessible buses for $99,494 each with 2012 engines.
Stephen J. Thublin, assistant superintendent for finance and business operations, said these buses would meet a two-year need and are climate-controlled. The purchase will be made through a lease purchase agreement and the first payment would not be due until August of 2014.
The board also voted 6-0 to enter into an agreement with the City of Perry for the annexation of city services at the location of a new elementary school under construction on Langston Road.


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