Clarifying Bus Situation
Since Mr. Rothermel has chosen to attack me in your newspaper, I feel compelled to respond.
First, I reiterate that the information I previously reported is factual. But, since there is a discrepancy concerning what the law is, as it relates to the useful life of a school bus, I feel obliged to quote the Maryland School Laws and Regulations Annotated: “ED 7-804 reads … In general (1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, unless it fails to meet the applicable school bus and motor vehicle safety standards, a school vehicle may be operated for 12 years. (2) In Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester Counties, unless it fails to meet the applicable school bus and motor vehicle safety standards, a school vehicle may be operated for 15 years.”
Mr. Rothermel mistakenly quotes the law as stating something about an extension. This extension is available in areas of the state were they normally allow 12 years school vehicle usage. If he has any questions about this meaning, I would suggest that he contact his Delegate, Norman Conway, the co-author of the bill.
Mr. Conway, along with Mike McDermott and Rudy Cane, have a bill pending, not only extending this law, but also using wording to clarify that these buses will be legal to run from any county in the state-HB 486.
Since Mr. Rothermel brings up the subject of per-vehicle allotment requested, I feel obligated to explain. This request by the Contractors Association was to cover the increase in the purchase price of a new bus; the same buses that he, along, with the majority of the Board of Education, are forcing on members of the Contractors Association. The increase requested was the same percentage as the increase for a new bus as reported by the school bus dealerships. This is a fixed cost on the contractors.
The nominal mileage request for 2 cents per mile was to pay for added maintenance costs. The contractors’ recent research showed an average of 20% to 25% increase in maintenance costs since our last increase from the county. This is another fixed cost. We requested no salary increases as state in my former letter to this newspaper.
Being Mr. Rothermel has brought up these issues, I might remind him that while cutting virtually every line item in the budget, including student transportation and teacher positions, there was one glaring exception. Under the heading of “fixed costs” (an item that he has a personal stake in), there was a marked increase. Could it be that his “Cadillac” benefit package has increased in price and the Board has decided to cover this increase? School bus contractors got none of these benefits.
If school bus safety was a concern of Mr. Rothermel’s, he should contacted an expert in the field. With over 30 years’ experience and literally having done hundreds of Class A and Class B inspections on school buses, I would have been glad to educate him.
I might remind him that the contractors, unlike any other county in the state, drive their own buses most every day. They haul their own children and grandchildren. I don’t know any one of them whom would drive an unsafe bus.
The only part of his letter that I can agree with is what he says about the dedication of our school bus drivers. Maybe we can use this as a starting point to bridge the chasm that he has created with the contractors.
(The writer is the president of the Worcester County Bus Contractors Association.)
Healthier Food Sought
(The following letter was addressed to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes.)
We are students at Buckingham Elementary School (BES) in second and third grades. We think the food menu at school needs to be changed to serve more healthy food. Kids work better when they eat healthy like fresh food from local farms and foods with less fat like vegetarian tacos and rice.
Our other suggestion is if kids are going to eat at school, they should get a permanent tray and spoons and forks that they can wash. The rule is “Respect yourself, others, learning and the environment,” and to throw away trays is not respecting the environment.
Thank you for considering our concerns.
A Group Of BES Students
Study Wind Farm Details
The concept of a large scale wind farm off the coast of Ocean City is an inviting project, however state representatives and citizens need to consider all effects before committing to such an endeavor.
Foremost is addressing any concerns about the safety of our flyway for migratory birds. Wind turbines have been responsible for bird strikes. At the Wind Vision Conference on Dec. 4, 2010, it was encouraging when guest speaker Robert Mitchell, CEO of Trans Atlantic Development Company, stated that to protect migratory birds and other marine life, the wind farm has to be at least 15 miles offshore. The state has already agreed to locate the farm 20 miles off Assateague, yet Mike Tidwell, executive director of Chesapeake Action, said Ocean City’s will be 10 to 12 miles offshore. This does not make sense if we are truly concerned about overall wildlife protection.
Another concern is the ultimate affect on Ocean City itself. The closer to shore, the greater the affect on the view. It has been stated that at ten miles one would see the turbines at a thumbnail’s height. At night the wind farm will have to be illuminated with flashing lights. This will give the impression of a bridge spanning all ten miles of our valuable coastline. Initially there will be a curiosity factor for visitors, yet how many will return if our vista has been permanently altered? How many travel brochures and magazines show photos of ocean vistas with wind turbines on the horizon?
Do we want to alter this pristine view?
Is this the most cost effective way of achieving our goals of renewable energy for all citizens of Maryland?
Maryland is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. Careful planning is important to safeguard our valuable assets.
Community Is Amazing
A huge thank you is, once again, extended to our wonderful community.
Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School held our 3rd Annual Casino Night fundraiser on March 5 and it was a huge success. We are grateful for the tremendous generosity of the local community including 16 local restaurants who donated wonderful signature dishes and many, many local businesses who donated spectacular items for our auction.
The proceeds far surpassed our expectations and raised much needed funds for our school. A night of fun and community fellowship was had by all. Kudos again to the spectacular community in which we live.
(The writer is the chair of the Casino Night Committee.)
Turbines Not Producing
Maryland is not a good state for residence wind turbine because we do not have enough wind.
We purchased a wind turbine a year ago and have not seen results to benefit at all. The turbine has generated 500 kilowatts in one year. We average about 300 to 400 kilowatts a month. At this rate, it will take 60 years for our return investment and not 12 to 15 years as the state and wind turbine companies claim.
One of the reasons we invested in the wind power is to do the green thing and the state and federal governments were subsidizing the cost. The turbine cost $17,000 and the state gave us a grant for $6,100 and then the federal government gave us 30% of the cost — $6,000 is more reasonable cost than $17,000. Guess what, the state’s was grant money, it is taxable on federal and state income tax. So now the $6,100 is really much lower depending on your tax bracket. The state gives you money and then taxes you.
Maryland should not promote wind energy at the residence level or the commercial level. The current residence wind turbine does not generate enough energy at a low wind speeds (i.e. 8 to 12 mph) to be beneficial. Our turbine would have to have 30 to 60 mph winds, 365 days, 24 hours a day to be efficient.
Do yourself a favor and save your money and take a trip to Hawaii.
New Windsor, Md.
Thanks To Restaurateurs
Editor: I would like to give a special thank you to Billy and Madlyn Carder and staff for hosting their fabulous Christmas party at BJ’s on the Water. The Humane Society animals benefitted from this lovely affair as donation of pet items entitled attendees to a delicious dinner and great music to dance to by Teenage Rust. The beautiful holiday decorations put all in a festive mood.
Thank you Maddy and Billy once again for your continued support of our shelter.
(The writer is the director of the Worcester County Humane Society.)