County School Board Punishing Bus Drivers

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Editor:

The following letter concerns The Dispatch article last week about the Worcester County Board of Education clarifying bus standards.

First off, a little history lesson. About 10 years ago, when the General Assembly passed new regulations allowing all school buses on the lower shore to be used for a total of 15 years, the current administration opposed it vehemently. Amid much debate and with all concerns aired, the General Assembly rightly decided that any safety issues had been addressed and were found to be nonexistent. The past decade of use of these buses has borne out this fact.

At that time, our Administration apparently made a decision to punish bus contractors who decided to claim their legal right to operate a bus for 15 years. These abuses of this law have been ongoing. This recent decision to deny contractors their right to buy any legal bus to do their route is just the latest attempt in punishing the contractors who backed the new laws.

The incident that brought this item to the forefront was the request by a contractor who wanted to purchase a bus that had only three more years of service, intending to retire after those years.

When this request was made, the Board decided, with the recommendation of the Supervisor of Transportation, to come up with a new requirement that any bus bought would have to be no more than 5 years old. This was after the budget had been passed by the Board. At that time, the Administration hadn’t even told the contractors what they would be paid for the coming year.

Why should the public care about the current rift between the contractors and the Board? The difference between buying a bus that is 12 years old and one that is new amounts to approximately $7,000 per year savings to the county.

At the same time, the contractor can earn enough to cover their increases in maintenance, fuel and insurance. The contractors haven’t received any increases in three years. Knowing that financially tight times are encompassing not only the county budget but also the citizens of the county, the Bus Contractors Association made requests for no increases in salary; probably the only group paid by the taxpayers to do so.

Your article insinuates that Worcester County buses undergo more inspections than other buses in Maryland, when in actuality, Maryland law requires these inspections of all school buses in the state. The same inspectors from the Motor Vehicle Administration participate in all Maryland school bus inspections.

As for the last statement in your article, stating that the Superintendent and the Board will have records and information to decide whether a bus can be used past 12 years. This information is kept by law in the files of the school bus division of the MVA as well as by the county in which it was last used. This information is available to the Supervisor of Transportation.

Bottom line is this. The taxpayers are being asked to pay, what will add up to thousands of dollars, to punish a group that shows concern for their financial well being.

Ted Elder
Whaleyville

(The writer is the president of the Worcester County Bus Contractors Association.)

Generosity Appreciated
Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who contributed to the needy. Through your overwhelming generosity, Coldwell Banker at 120th Street in Ocean City was able to keep the less fortunate warm this winter.

Without you, this exercise in giving would have been impossible. Thank you for making our coat drive a huge success. There were over 4,000 coats collected and distributed because of you.

Sheila Hodges
Ocean City

Better Traffic Light Syncing Would Help
Editor:

As my wife and I drove from 139th Street south along Coastal Highway this morning, March 2, we noted that fuel outlets had $3.299 posted for 87 octane gasoline. (Sidelight: We call the price $3.30; it’s only 1/10th of a cent below that.).

We had to stop for at least half of the traffic lights between 139th Street and Route 90. That caused us to ask ourselves this question: Given the soaring prices of fuel, the unpleasant economy, lack of domestic drilling for oil, why can’t the Maryland State Highway Administration get a better handle on synchronizing traffic lights in Ocean City?

Each stop and start knocks down miles per gallon by a large factor. And we haven’t even begun the heavy traffic of the season.

Imagine the fuel wastage right now multiplied by a huge factor when our visitors arrive.

How about it SHA? Can you do anything to save fuel, also known as be more green?

Bob and Mary Ann LeMay
Ocean City
Help Sought Over Lost Purse, Funds
Editor:

I’m writing this letter because on Thursday, Feb. 24 at approximately 8 a.m., I lost my purse in Berlin. I am a mother of three young children, and as I was loading them in their car seats to take them to daycare on this particular morning, I sat my purse on the roof of my car. My 2-year old daughter’s shoe had fallen off and I had to put it back on. As is every morning, getting everyone out the door and situated in their car seats is always very hectic, trying to juggle the book bag, the diaper bag, the lunch boxes, and my purse. Unfortunately, I drove off, and I left the purse on the roof.

I traveled down my street stopped at the daycare and drove to the parking lot where I work. I realized my purse was not in the car. Immediately, I drove back home thinking it was there, which, of course, it was not. I back-tracked the route I traveled but no purse. I made numerous phone calls to the local police departments, but nobody had turned in a purse.

Unfortunately, I had my tax refund in the purse, which I was going to put into my safety deposit box to use throughout the year to pay my bills and for whatever necessities my children could need. I had all of my family’s social security cards, my WIC folder, my driver’s license, my prescriptions, and all of our health cards also in the purse. To this day, none of it has been returned to me. And, there were plenty of items in the purse which contained my phone number and post office box address where I could be contacted.

I am so devastated by this loss. I really needed that money to live on for the rest of the year and to think someone found it and kept it really makes me wonder what people have come to. You could tell by looking at the medical assistant cards and the WIC folder in my purse that I do not make much money and I have three beautiful children, all who I have to pay daycare for, that I have to support. How can someone live with their conscious after causing my family to suffer terribly by not returning my money and purse?

I do not know how I am going to get through this year, without my tax refund money to use to support my family. I am an only child myself, and I do not have much family that can even offer financial help to me. My electric bill is several months behind, and I have exhausted my Shore Up money within the first month it was issued. The electric bill alone is budgeted at $460 a month that now I do not know how I am going to afford to pay. May car has four bald tires that I was about to have replaced.

Now, that money is gone, and I ride around wondering if I will have a blowout. This is all thanks to the dishonest person who picked up my purse on the side of the road last Thursday, Feb. 24th.

I am writing this to beg, if anyone has my purse and this money, could you please return it to me. It was all the money I had in the world, and I can barely function day-to-day wondering how I am going to get through the year. I literally have to live paycheck to paycheck, and these three little children really need that money also to pay for their expenses.

 I don’t want to press any charges or even know the person’s name; I just need that money and those documents back. I do not even have the money right now to replace my driver’s license and the social security cards that were lost. I would gladly offer a reward out of the tax refund money contained in the purse, if anyone could help me get it back. I will give my contact information to Steve Green, the editor at The Dispatch (410-641-4561 or email editor@mdcoastdispatch.com) if anyone has any information.

Kim Stedding
Berlin

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