TULSA, Okla. — A mechanic from Red Creek, N.Y., and a commercial vehicle enforcement officer from Olympia, Wash., were named "America's Best" school bus technician and inspector, respectively, in a new competition.
David Gasbarro of Red Creek Central School District and Ryan Wiese of the Washington State Patrol beat competitors from six other states in a contest that included a 50-question written exam and a 45-minute field test.
"I don't come to these events thinking I'm going to win," said Gasbarro. "I like to meet other people who are in my line of work. The ideas and experiences we share are valuable in every aspect."
Wiese offered a similar perspective. "Overall, it was a great experience," he said. "The written test had some tough questions, and the field test required you to think on your feet."
The event, which took place at IC Corp.'s school bus manufacturing plant in Tulsa, was sponsored by Bus Parts Warehouse and Zonar Systems. Gasbarro and Wiese each won an all-expense-paid trip to Cincinnati, where they will be recognized on Oct. 31 at the National Association for Pupil Transportation's (NAPT) annual awards banquet, held in conjunction with the annual conference Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.
In addition, all participants in the event were given a tour of the IC Corp. bus manufacturing plant. "We couldn't have done any of this without the support of our business partners," said Bill Tousley, an NAPT regional director who helped to organize the event. "IC Corp. was an especially gracious host, and IC employees Ron Brigler and Matt Manlandro in particular deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their hard work."
This year's inaugural event attracted competitors from eight states. The event was organized by the NAPT, which has chosen Thomas Built Buses' High Point, N.C., plant for next year's competition.
"When we first came up with this concept, I said that we should expect to see some incredible talent come to light," NAPT President Steve Kalmes said. "All of the competitors proved me right. Watching them work was awe-inspiring. They represent our industry extraordinarily well."