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The Spotlight is on the Transportation Department

June 18, 2018

These beautiful spring days are a welcome relief from the harsh winter that just passed. And, let’s face it, the spring hasn’t been completely mild and spring like either.Transportation officials stand by a yellow Monticelly School District bus

On Tuesday, May 15, Mother Nature certainly reminded us of just who’s boss when a tornado came our way and at one of the worst times possible – just as our elementary students were being dismissed. Most bus drivers had left their respective buildings a short time earlier when the word came to head back to the schools with their young passengers.

Although it wasn’t until near 8 p.m. that the final buses returned to the bus garage, not one student or driver was injured during this rare weather event. The Transportation Department pulled together, stayed put and patiently delivered our youngest students to their homes despite the challenging conditions on the roads. That is why our Transportation Department is In the Spotlight for June.

Pictured from left, Interim Director of Transportation Delos Luther, Transportation Specialist Pam Reyer, Senior Account Clerk Cindy Conrow and Joellyn Bedford, dispatcher.

 

Welcoming the children when the buses turned around were many staff members at their schools. The Rotary heard about the situation and brought food to the schools so that our kiddos were fed while being safely sheltered from the storm.

During these hours, the staff at the Transportation Department held down the fort. Many calls were received from parents concerned about their children. Our staff assured them that the children were safe, cared for and fed.

When the storm passed, it was these same staff members along with our bus drivers who navigated the roads, many of which had become obstacle courses. Several roads were closed due to trees and wires that were down. Others weren’t passable for buses.

Still, they persevered and every child was returned home safely to their families.

“The drivers did a fantastic job,” said Delos Luther, the district’s interim director of transportation. “They really pulled together when they had to. They did exceptionally well. And our students responded really well too.”

Luther said the drivers faced many challenges once the buses were rolling again. There wasn’t much information right after the storm about which roads were passable and which weren’t.

The next day, as the county had declared a state of emergency and requested that schools close, the county provided a list of roads that were closed or impassable. With the large number of roads throughout the county impacted, the Transportation Department collaborated with the county, helping them by reporting on other roads that were not passable.

“Safety was always the most important thing for us,” said Luther. “Some roads were officially open but really not passable for a bus. Sure, a car or pick-up truck could get through but with low-hanging wires and tree branches, it just wasn’t safe for a bus. We reported that information to the county so they were aware.”

So many people pulled together to make sure everyone was safe during this devastating spring storm. The Transportation Department stood tall, with everyone doing what was needed to bring the children home safe and sound.

We are grateful for the wonderful drivers, dispatchers and staff in the department who always put our children and their safety first.