CHARLESTON, S.C. — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) hosted the 44th Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition here on July 20 at West Ashley High School, and saw a mix of familiar faces and new winners in the top rankings of each category.
On Saturday, 100 contestants began with a written exam testing their understanding of the rules of the road. On Sunday, drivers got behind the wheel of a school bus and completed the road course, and competed in one of three categories: conventional, small bus, or transit.
"The safety competition is our best event of the year as it recognizes the outstanding drivers that transport children safely every day,” said Tim Flood, NSTA President. “School buses are the safest form of transportation available and this record is in large part because of the industry's top priority of training and attention to safety. These top competitors really are the best of the best from across the United States and Canada and we are honored to sponsor this competition each year."
Winners and their contractor companies were acknowledged on Sunday evening at NSTA's Dinner and Awards Ceremony, sponsored by IC Bus. The banquet festivities were held at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina.
Billy Wiseman of West Virginia again made the top three in the Conventional (Type C) category. In the Small Bus category, Russell Alitzer of Virginia also won a top spot once again and John Welsh of Pennsylvania again took the second spot in the Transit (Type D) category.
The 2014 Small Bus winners, by rank, were:
1. Russell Altizer of Montgomery County Public Schools in Christiansburg, Virginia
2. Lisa Loring of Mid-Columbia Bus Co. in Toledo, Oregon
3. Chris Helmer of Portland Public Schools in Portland, Oregon
4. Jeffrey Long of Newport News Public Schools in Newport News, Virginia
The 2014 Conventional (Type C) winners, by rank, were:
1. Ed Rollins of Harrison County Schools in Clarksburg, West Virginia
2. Gene Thrasher of Bend-La Pine School District in Bend, Oregon
3. Billy Wiseman from Kanawha County Schools in Charleston, West Virginia
4. Brian Newhouse of Kanawha County Schools in Charleston, West Virginia
5. Michael Graham of Cobb County School District in Marietta, Georgia
6. Larry Hannon of Centennial School District in Warminster, Pennsylvania
7. Molly Cornwell of First Student in Wichita, Kansas
8. Craig Kanner of First Student Canada in Calgary, Alberta
9. Mark Black of Springfield R 12 in Springfield, Missouri
10. Gerry Crane of Magnolia Independent School District in Magnolia, Texas
The 2014 Transit (Type D) winners, by rank, were:
1. Mark Miller of Bellingham Public Schools in Bellingham, Washington
2. John Welsh of Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pennsylvania
3. Angelica Ortiz of Allen Independent School District in Allen, Texas
4. Melanie Nelson of Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington
5. Victor Garza of Newport-Mesa United School District in Costa Mesa, California
6. Cheryl Vogelsang of Eagle Wolfing Leasing in Exton, Pennsylvania
7. Lori Robertson of Petermann Bus in Liberty Township, Ohio
8. Rose Cox of Santa Fe Independent School District in Santa Fe, Texas
9. Karen Schoonover of Mountain Valley Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia
10. Eduardo Escobedo of United School District 443 in Dodge City, Kansas