Dumont business owner purchases East Elementary School - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dumont business owner purchases East Elementary School

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -- When the school board voted to close East Elementary, the decision was met with a lot of negative feedback. Fast forward eleven months, and it seems the sale of the building will bring positive changes to the Independence community.

For a few minutes a day, the parking lot at East Elementary School sees a lot of action as a drop-off point for a couple dozen kids. Other than that, the school sits empty. Now, Affordable Leasing, a company operating out of Dumont, is planning to open a call center and training facility in the former classrooms.

"You look at what jobs potentially could be. It's been anywhere from 25 to 100 or 200. Where it's all going to sit, there's a lot of talk right now," said Nate Clayberg, Director of the Buchanan County Economic Development Commission.

Affordable Leasing's owners paid $100,000 for East Elementary School. Clayberg estimated they'll spend at least another $500,000 in renovations. Affordable Leasing was the only business to make an offer on the building.

Not much is known about Affordable Leasing. We could not find a working phone number for the business or either of its owners -- Roger Lohse or James Adams. They have purchased former schools in Dumont and Dundee.

This week, the Osage School District denied their offer to buy a vacant elementary school. Their plans for the Dumont, Dundee, and Independence buildings are still in the works.

Which is why Clayberg is optimistic, but warns progress may be slow.

"There's still questions on how it's going to operate and what it's truly going to be. So, it's a good thing for the school district to have something that's been on their backs and to have somebody come in who wants to purchase it," he added.

It could be several months before there are call center employees working in the building. But at least, once the paperwork is finalized in January, the district will no longer have to pay to maintain East Elementary.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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