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November 01, 2005  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

20 Fascinating Personalties (Part 2)

More remarkable people from across the pupil transportation industry.

by SBF staff editors Steve Hirano, Thomas McMahon and Albert Neal

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Gerri Hall enjoys traveling with her husband, David Nickels. Here, they are picnicking high on the cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Gerri Hall enjoys traveling with her husband, David Nickels. Here, they are picnicking high on the cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Gerri Hall

President/CEO, Operation Lifesaver Inc.

Born: Aberdeen, S.D.
Home: Kensington, Md.
Years in industry: Ten years, through Operation Lifesaver’s educational efforts to teach school bus drivers how to make safe decisions around tracks and trains.

Notable previous jobs: Ten years with the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, working on surface transportation safety issues for Sen. John Danforth.

How did you get your start in the industry?
Working on surface transportation safety issues in the U.S. Senate.

Current job duties?
I work with our Program Development Council and staff to provide educational materials and training programs that help our 50 state coordinators, 200 trainers and 4,000 volunteer safety speakers reach key groups — like pupil transportation — with important rail safety information.

Top achievements in life?
Professionally, introducing safety advocates in other countries to the Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) program so they can help their citizens be safe around tracks and trains. OLI has programs in Canada, Mexico, Argentina, England and Estonia. It is wonderful to have an opportunity to travel with my husband around the world, meeting and working with dedicated, interesting people. Personally, a highlight was traveling in Europe with a 16-voice a cappella group. How amazing to sing sacred music in the cathedrals for which it was written!

Outside interests?
Singing, gardening, traveling.

Favorite book or movie?
I get a big kick out of clever animated movies that delight both kids and adults. Finding Nemo is a favorite!

Most interesting place you’ve been?
Australia is amazing! Every part of the country is unique and full of amazing people, creatures, sights and experiences.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
My grandfather’s cousin was Wild Bill Hickock, who was shot in the back playing poker in Deadwood, S.D.! (Maybe that’s why safety is so important in my family!)



In April, George Horne boiled 225 pounds of crawfish "cajun style" at a gathering of family and friends.

George Horne

President, Horne Enterprises, Metairie, La.

Born: Paris, Ark.
Home: Metairie, La.
Years in industry: 30
Notable previous jobs: English teacher, supervisor, assistant superintendent, superintendent of schools, southeast regional manager - Pupil Transportation Safety Institute.

How did you get your start in the industry?
After being appointed assistant superintendent of a division, the transportation director was reassigned, and I had to assume his duties for day-to-day operation.

Current job duties?
I am a transportation consultant, specializing in training, writing, presenting, expert witnessing and consulting (routing, budget reviews, route analyses, etc.). I have written three National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) certification courses and enjoy teaching NAPT courses as well.

Top achievements in life?
I reached the top of the professional ladder in education when I became superintendent of schools; I initiated the first special-needs transportation handbook in a Louisiana school district (1987) and later for the Department of Education; I chaired the local Red Cross service center; I currently chair the church Parish Pastoral Advisory Council; I received the NAPT Distinguished Service Award in 2004.

Outside interests?
Gardening, woodworking, “tinkering,” church-related endeavors, cooking crawfish “cajun style.”

Favorite book or movie?
My favorite book is the Bible, because it is the true roadmap for life, in my opinion. My favorite movie is Patton, because it emphasizes the results that can be achieved against overwhelming odds if one has the spirit and tenacity to forge ahead.

Most interesting place you’ve been?
That’s a hard question, but Denver’s Museum of Natural History ranks very high. Professionally, touring Thomas Built, Blue Bird, Carpenter and Ward/Amtran/IC bus manufacturing plants has been very interesting.

Strangest job you’ve had?
Taking inventory in a hardware store, which was a part-time job during high school and college. I literally had to count nuts, bolts, washers, pipe fittings, etc. At least they allowed me to weigh the nails instead of count them!

Something people would be surprised to learn about you?
During my college days, I moonlighted as a drummer, even appearing in bands on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Also, some people may know this, but I like to write poetry.

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