Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Weather causes bus problems

 


Bitter winter weather conditions caused Green River schools to close Thursday and busses to break down Friday.

Last Thursday, Sweetwater County School District No. 2 declared a snow day, but it’s Friday’s two-hour delay that residents can’t seem to stop talking about.

Despite having taken preventative gelling up measures, such as plugging in the busses, the district still had more than 12 busses gel up Friday.

“We have fuel additive in all of our tanks so we weren’t too far off,” District No. 2 transportation supervisor Oscar Barton said.

However, 12 newer buses were giving the transportation department some issues. Barton said he figured all of the buses were ready to go because they all started and had been idling, but when they tried and drive the busses 12 of them gelled up and would not move.

Barton quickly noticed most of the buses causing the problems were newer than the others. He discovered there was a design flaw on one of the filters on all 12 buses, which caused them to gel up.

This filter is near the 7 gallon diesel exhaust fluid tank, which is a fluid designed to help the bus run hotter and cleaner to cut down on emissions. Barton said this fluid froze, which caused crystals on the filter, which then caused the busses to gel up.

“We’re going to look at a filter retrofit,” he said.

However, as far as keeping the diesel exhaust fluid from gelling up, that’s another issue altogether.

“That’s something that we’re going to have to look at,” Barton said.

With a total of 43 busses needed to get the kids to school, being down 12 wasn’t an option. Barton said he knew it was late, but at 6:50 a.m. he called Superintendent Donna Little-Kaumo and told her he couldn’t get all the busses going in time and asked for a delayed start.

“You don’t know they’re gelled up until you go to move the vehicle,” he explained.

When the busses started and idled, they thought they were good to go.

Assistant superintendent Jamie Christensen said because of the late notice, the two-hour delay notification went out later than the district would have wanted it to, but under the circumstances they had no choice. This late notification caused some issues within the district, specifically at the Green River High School.

He said a lot of the students had already arrived at the school before the notification went out.

“We went though it with the best intentions,” Christensen said.

He described Friday’s events as confusing.

“I know the transportation department worked very hard to get those busses going,” Christensen said. “That’s my first experience with that many busses not starting.”

Knowing the notice went out late, district employees used their personal and district vehicles to visit the bus stops and tell kids at them to go back home, Christensen said. With temperatures around 27 below zero, they didn’t want the kids out there waiting for busses that weren’t coming.

He said most of the kids who had to be told to go home were junior high and high-school aged kids. By the time elementary students were supposed to get on the bus, most had received the notification.

By 7:30 a.m., Barton said they thought they had all the busses finally running and moving, but even with the late start, they still had a couple of buses gel up and stop in the middle of the street.

“It was a tough couple of days and we sure appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding,” Christensen said. “We need to look at how we can communicate better.”

The district administrators will be having a meeting this week to address the issues that came up with the snow day and two-hour delay day.

“I think all of those things will be addressed in the future,” Barton said.

Activity buses

Barton said while they were busy getting the other district’s busses to work, he became worried about three activity busses that had already been sent out.

Barton said the GRHS speech and debate team and wrestling team had already left.

The three busses those teams were using had been placed inside the night before since they were leaving at 5 a.m.

The buses started right up and left, but after busses started gelling up in town, the transportation department grew nervous. The wrestling bus made it safely to Vernal, Utah, however, one of the speech and debate busses gelled up and broke down.

Head coach Carina White said the bus broke down near Meeteetse and all of the students from the broke down bus were moved onto the other bus.

The running bus made its way to Powell, while the broke down bus was towed to Riverton, where it was fixed. Once that bus was fixed, it made its way to Powell.

Barton said as soon as he received word that a bus broke down on the road there was no way any other activity busses were going to leave.

“Number one -- You don’t want a bus load of kids stuck on the side of the road,” Barton said.

Christensen said between the busses gelling up in town and the bus breaking down near Meeteetse the decision was made that no more activity buses were leaving town.

Both the boys and girls basketball teams remained home.

“We don’t want to put kids in a spot where they are in danger,” Christensen said.

“It was a miserable couple of days. That’s for sure,” Barton said.

 

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