SBF’s Contractors of the Year

J.W. “Skip” Tinnen (1968)
SCHOOL BUS FLEET honored Tinnen with the first-ever Outstanding Contribution Trophy, which would later come to be called the Contractor of the Year Award. In addition to operating school buses, Tinnen also owned a school bus dealership, which frequently brought him in contact with other bus operators. This contact spawned the idea to organize a state association of school bus operators, and the Missouri Association of School Bus Contract-Operators was born. Soon he realized the need for a national organization, and he founded the National Association of School Bus Contract-Operators (NASBCO).

Mel Sherman (1969)
Sherman of California was recognized for his many valuable contributions to NASBCO. He served on the board in 1967 as the first vice president.

Joe Cottrell and Clarence Geiger (1970)
Cottrell, president of Cottrell Bus Service in Buffalo, N.Y., and Geiger of North Merrick, N.Y., were both past presidents of NASBCO. Both contributed time and money to the efforts of the association.

Bill Betzold (1971)
Betzold, of Tuscola, Ill., started in the school bus business in 1953 as a manager and mechanic for C.A. Rice in Tuscola and three years later purchased the company. In 1960, he helped to found the Illinois School Bus Contractors Association and served as its president for three years. He also promoted the idea of a national association for contract operators.

Theodore Schaefer (1972)
Schaefer is credited with saving school bus contracting as a viable industry in Maryland. He was largely responsible for securing two seats for contractors on the Maryland Transportation Advisor Committee, allowing the private sector to have a voice in the decisions that affected pupil transportation.

Otto Berchtold (1973)
Although a baker by profession, Berchtold bought Arcola Bus Co. in Paramus, N.J., in 1952 and successfully grew the enterprise. He was active in the New Jersey School Bus Contractor Association, serving as president from 1964 to ‘67. During his term, New Jersey joined the national association.

Paul Peterson (1974)
Peterson was assistant vice president of Willett Motor Coach in Chicago. He was given the award at the meeting when NASBCO became the National School Transportation Association (NSTA).

James DeVeau (1975)
DeVeau, president of DeVeau Bus Co. in Minnetonka, Minn., was recognized for his many years of devoted service to NASBCO as well as to the entire school bus industry. He served on the association’s board in the late 1960s, receiving the Golden Merit award in 1969. He also received the NSTA’s Hall of Fame Award in 1993.

R.W. Harmon (1976)
Harmon received the award posthumously, having died earlier in 1976. Harmon started his company in 1946 with a one-bus contract in Hickman Mills, Mo., and grew it into a sprawling family business known as R.W. Harmon & Sons that included school bus sales. His company received the Golden Merit Award in 1971.

Leon Robinson (1977)
Robinson Bus Service, in Evanston, Ill., was one of the first black-owned bus companies in the U.S. Robinson was recognized for his many contributions to the industry, including his service on the NSTA board, including a term as president. He also served on the board of the Illinois School Transportation Association.

Murray Dorsey (1978)
Dorsey of Dorsey Bus Co. in Corvallis, Ore., was recognized for his contributions to the contractor industry. He received the NASBCO’s Golden Merit Award in 1969.

Ed Larson (1979)
Larson of Larson Bus Service in Sauk Rapids, Minn., received the award at the annual meeting in Duluth, Minn. He was honored for operating a top-notch contractor program and for his contributions to the contracting industry. He received the NSTA’s Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

John Murphy (1980)
Murphy of United Truck and Bus Service in Providence, R.I., was a long-time board member of NSTA, including a term as president. He received the Golden Merit Award in 1973.

Joan Corwin (1981)
Joan Corwin got her start in pupil transportation in 1963 as a bus driver for the Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services. She later was promoted to transportation supervisor. In 1970, she joined Chappaqua Transportation and later was named president. She received the Golden Merit Award in 1977.

Bud Lee (1982)
Lee of Martinez (Calif.) Bus Lines, was president of the California organization within NASBCO in 1971. For his contributions to the contractor industry, he received the Golden Merit Award in 1972.

Richard Harney (1983)
President of Palomar Transport in Upland, Calif., Harney entered the school bus contracting business in 1970. Thirteen years later he was managing 290 buses and 285 employees. During his time with NSTA, he assisted in the organization’s financial turnaround, taking it from struggling on a month-to-month basis to an institution with sound finances.

Gary Zeh (1984)
In 1961, Zeh took over as the head of Haverstraw Transit in New York. He managed 118 buses and a bus dealership firm. Four major bills that the industry supported were signed into law during his tenure as president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association. He also served as a member of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation.

Terry Van Der Aa (1985)
Van Der Aa was recognized for his enterprise and initiative. President of Vancom Inc. during the company’s 60th anniversary in 1985, Van Der Aa managed 1,200 vehicles operating out of 15 facilities. A two-time president of NSTA, he also served on the board of the Illinois School Transportation Association. He received the Golden Merit Award in 1973 and the Hall of Fame Award in 1997.

Larry Durham (1986)
Durham was president of Durham Transportation before it was acquired by National Express Corp. in 1999. He was recognized for his leadership in resolving the NSTA’s insurance crisis and bringing sound business practices to the field of pupil transportation during his two terms as NSTA president. He was also recognized for pioneering school bus contracting in the state of Texas.

Lyle Stephens (1987)
Stephens, who was president of Special Transportation when he was honored, was recognized for his contributions to the field of special-needs transportation. He helped to spearhead the development of guidelines for a transportable wheelchair. He received the NSTA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2006.

Michael DeGroote (1988)
DeGroote, chairman and CEO of Laidlaw Transportation Ltd., helped to expand the marketshare of North America’s largest contractor. He was recognized for turning the attention of the financial community to the pupil transportation industry.

Karen Finkel (1989)
Finkel served as the executive director of the NSTA for 19 years before leaving the association in September 2000. She was known as an effective representative of the industry on Capitol Hill and a tremendous resource for anyone involved with school transportation.

Robin Leeds (1990)
Leeds has contributed on multiple fronts to the pupil transportation industry, serving for several years as executive director of the Connecticut Operators of School Transportation Association and sharing her knowledge about pupil transportation at industry conferences. Currently, she is an industry consultant for the NSTA.

Chuck Hey (1991)
Hey, president of School Bus Inc. in Sioux Falls, S.D., was recognized for his leadership and service to private contractors, large and small. He served on the NSTA board and was president for a term. He received the Golden Merit Award in 1982 and the Hall of Fame Award in 2000.

John Nolan (1992)
Nolan was an esteemed veteran of the pupil transportation industry, serving as president of National School Bus Service in Barrington, Ill. He also served on the NSTA’s board and contributed strongly to the New York School Bus Contractors Association. He received the Hall of Fame Award in 1998.


Terry Thomas (1993)
Thomas, president of Community Bus Service in Youngstown, Ohio, has been a terrific resource for the industry. He was a longtime board member of the NSTA and received the Distinguished Service Award in 1993 and 2001. He also has been instrumental in bringing the industry’s three major associations closer together with more collaborative initiatives.

Dale Krapf (1994)
By the time he won the Contractor of the Year award in 1994, Krapf had been running his family’s bus company for 27 years. The company, named George Krapf Jr. & Sons, after his father, had a dual focus of school transportation and a charter bus operation servicing the entire Philadelphia area. Krapf’s leadership and energy wasn’t limited to just his own company — he also served as NSTA president and received the Distinguished Service Award in 1994.

Kellie Dean (1995)
Dean, president of Dean Transportation, was known for his dedication to special-needs transportation. He established a medical review team at the company, including school nurses and physicians, to provide important information to drivers transporting students with special needs. He also served as co-chair of the Special Transportation Operations Committee for the 12th National Congress on School Transportation.

Lee Larson (1996)
When Larson took over School Bus Services (SBS) in Gresham, Ore., the company had approximately 40 school buses and no facilities to house the operation. After 28 years, SBS operated more than 600 buses in four states. Service, community involvement and industry participation have always been Larson’s hallmarks. In 1999, he established the Leland E.G. Larson Quality Student Transportation Award with a $50,000 donation to the NAPT.

Barry Stock (1997)
Stock was recognized for his leadership, innovation and determination to raise industry standards. At the time, he was senior vice president of Stock Transportation Ltd., which was sold to National Express Corp. in 2002. He is now senior vice president for National Express, overseeing business development for both Durham School Services and Stock Transportation. He is also an NSTA board member and is slated to become president in 2007.

Kevin Endres (1998)
Endres was president of Mountain Transit in Milton, Vt., when he received the award. He later sold the company to Atlantic Express and entered the world of politics, winning a seat in Vermont’s state senate. Endres helped to organize the Vermont School Transportation Association and served as its first president. Since selling his company, he has been championing school bus safety issues in the Vermont legislature.

Douglas Flatt (1999)
As vice president of administration of Mid Columbia Bus Co. (MIDCO), Flatt always emphasized building professional relationships. When Flatt won the award in 1999, MIDCO operated 477 vehicles for 23 school districts in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Thanks to him, the company became known for their community involvement and support of civic and rural activities. Tragically, he was killed in an airplane crash in 2004. The same year, he was posthumously honored with the Distinguished Service Award.

John Corr (2000)
Corr, the current president of the NSTA, has spent a quarter-century in the school transportation business. He got started in 1981 by buying one of his family’s satellite bus terminals. His dedication to quality of service allowed him to grow his company. The Trans Group is now one of the 10 largest contractors in North America. In 1997, the New York School Bus Contractors Association named him its Contractor of the Year, and a year later he received NSTA’s Distinguished Service Award. He won it again in 2003.

Phillip Paige (2001)
When Paige became involved in his father’s company in the early 1970s, he immersed himself in every aspect of the operation, including driving and maintenance. In his hands, Paige Bus Enterprises in Riverdale, Ill., grew from a small operation to more than 150 buses. In addition, Paige sat on the board of directors of the Illinois School Transportation Association, as well as the NSTA. He received the Golden Merit Award in 1998.

Pete Settle (2002)
After a long career in the educational transportation industry with his stepfather’s company, his family’s company and Laidlaw Transit, Settle left the industry in 1998. He thought he would finally get away from school buses. But less than a year later, after school districts sought him out for his transportation expertise, he started his own company. That company, Petermann LLC, grew to more than 500 buses in less than four years. He received the Golden Merit Award in 1993.

Bill Beck (2003)
The Beck Bus Transportation Group began in 1946 with George Beck. Since the early 1970s, his grandson, Bill Beck, has been the determined leader of the company. Under his leadership, it grew to more than 200 school buses, 18 charter coaches and 12 transit buses. Beck also led the industry as president of NSTA, balancing the needs of both large and small companies and working to expand NSTA’s membership and involvement.

Magda Dimmendaal (2004)
Dimmendaal began her career in 1973 as a driver for Dousman Transport in Wisconsin. Fifteen years later, after rising to the rank of VP, she bought the company. Once in charge, Dimmendaal, who was born in the Netherlands, didn’t forget her experiences as a driver — she made taking care of drivers a priority. She is a member of the NSTA board and a former president of the Wisconsin School Bus Association.

Michael Ely (2005)
Ely, president of family-owned Scholastic Bus Co., spearheaded New Jersey legislation to level the playing field between public- and private-sector competitors for school bus contracts. Previously, public entities in that state could bypass bidding processes for transportation contracts and were exempt from bonding or disclosure requirements. Thanks to Ely’s efforts, taxpayers benefit not only from increased competition between contractors and public entities, but also from an open bidding process and increased public accountability.

Donald Fowler (2006)
Fowler was recognized not for one position or achievement, but for many. Owning and managing family-based Fowler Bus Lines Inc. in Richmond, Mo., was part of it. But he was also recognized for his service of more than 10 years on the board of NSTA, currently serving as the secretary-treasurer. Fowler also has contributed his time and energy to the NAPT, Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation and the National Congress on School Transportation.



SBF’s Administrators of the Year

William E. Saunders (1974)
The first-ever vice president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), Saunders was recognized for his years of work with the Normandy (Mo.) School District and his efforts in a number of safety conferences. In 1975 and ‘76, Saunders served as president of the NAPT.

Robert Larson (1975)
“School Bus Bob” Larson was one of the founding members of the NAPT and served as its first president. At the time of the award, he was transportation director for the Robbinsdale (Minn.) Area School District, where he would serve for 15 years. In 1997, Larson was one of the first inductees into the NAPT Hall of Fame.

Carlisle Beasley (1976)
Beasley was the transportation director of the Metro Nashville (Tenn.) Public Schools at the time of the award. He was known throughout the industry for his dedication to the business, his well-run program and transportation innovations. He is a past president of the NAPT and received the association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1990.

Leonard Vaughn (1977)
The transportation director for the St. Louis County Special School District, Vaughn was recognized for his outstanding record in the field of what was then called handicapped-pupil transportation. He served on the NAPT board in the late 1970s.

Randy Ingle (1978)
Ingle was named Administrator of the Year for his accomplishments as transportation director at the Fort Worth (Texas) School District. Ingle and the school district were also recognized by the Department of Transportation as having one of the outstanding fleets in the country. He was president of the NAPT for two years in the mid-1970s.

Sam Tornello (1979)
Tornello, transportation director at Madison Township Board of Education in Matawan, N.J., was recognized for running an exemplary operation with high regard for safety and efficiency.

Bill G. Loshbough (1980)
Loshbough, a former state pupil transportation director in New Mexico, also helped to coordinate the National School Bus Roadeo for several years. He also is a past president of the NAPT and received the association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1992.

Pete Martinez (1981)
Martinez was transportation director at Wichita Falls (Texas) School District when he was recognized with the award. In addition to his success in running a top-notch transportation operation, Martinez served on the NAPT board and the board of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation.


Paul Stewart (1982)
Stewart, who retired as the director of pupil transportation for the West Virginia Department of Education in 1978, had a career in pupil transportation that spanned 40 years. He is credited with pioneering the use of diesel-powered school buses in the early 1950s. Stewart was a past president of the NAPT and was among the first to be inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame, in 1997.

Bill Griggers (1983)
Griggers served as executive director of transportation for the Fulton County (Ga.) School System. While there, he realized there was a lack of quality bus safety data and conducted three national surveys aimed at advancing statistical information on accidents and safety. He served as chairman of the legislative committee for the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation and developed student safety education programs. To recognize his accomplishments, the Fulton County School System gives out the Bill Griggers Driver of the Year award.

Dennis Newton (1984)
As the state director of pupil transportation in Kansas, Newton was responsible for compiling and disseminating the Annual Loading and Unloading Zone Survey. Although he did not found the survey, he started a more sophisticated method of collating data and expanded the distribution of the report. This report helped draw attention to loading and unloading zone safety and encouraged states to mandate the use of devices such as stop arms and crossing control gates.

Ray Kroll (1985)
Kroll was a charter member of the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation and acted as president of the association in 1978, 1980 and 1981. His accomplishments include his longstanding campaign for school bus safety and his leadership in the NAPT School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest. He also served as the first-ever chairman of the Minnesota School Bus Safety Committee.

Lee Corneau (1986)
Corneau was recognized for his dedication to improving communications in the industry. He authored many articles for SCHOOL BUS FLEET and other industry publications. As a specialist in pupil transportation for the New York Department of Education, he developed a program to train a group of master instructors and have those instructors train other drivers.

Lee Ednie (1987)
Ednie was transportation director for Penn Hills School District in Pittsburgh when he received the award. During his tenure at Penn Hills, he bolstered both safety and security on buses, responding to a general increase in violence and rebellion. He also served as president of the NAPT for two years and received the association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1993.

Ron Kinney (1988)
Kinney began his career as a part-time school bus driver while attending college. He then became a full-time driver and mechanic and joined the pupil transportation program at the California Department of Education. Eventually, he was promoted to director of pupil transportation for the department. He later served as president of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) and the California Association of School Transportation Officials.

George “Ed” Donn (1989)
Donn, a former transportation supervisor at school districts in Maryland and Georgia, was given the Administrator of the Year Award for his vision and constant efforts to elevate the NAPT and boost the professionalism of the field. He twice served as president of the NAPT and was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame in 2001.

Don Carnahan (1990)
When he received the award, Carnahan was the state director of pupil transportation in Washington state. He is a past president of NASDPTS and NAPT and served on the board of directors of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute. In 1990, he chaired the 11th National Congress on School Transportation.

Ernest Farmer (1991)
As a longtime state director of pupil transportation in Tennessee, Farmer received the award because of his efforts to promote school bus safety at both the local and national levels. Farmer has worked in pupil transportation more than 30 years, and has written numerous articles about school bus safety and pupil transportation management for SCHOOL BUS FLEET. His dedication to students was so strong that he postponed his retirement to ensure local schools had a state pupil transportation representative.

Charlie Hood (1992)
Hood, state director of pupil transportation in Florida, is the past steering committee chairman of the National Congress on School Transportation. He organized the 2005 conference in Warrensburg, Mo. He has also contributed his leadership to the industry in other ways, including as a former president of NASDPTS and the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference.

Carroll Pitts Jr. (1993)
One of the most respected individuals in the industry, Pitts is the executive director of transportation for the Cobb County (Ga.) School District. He has been a strong contributor at the state and national levels, serving as president of the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation, the South Carolina Association for Pupil Transportation and the NAPT. In 1999, he received the NAPT’s Distinguished Service Award.

Terry Voy (1994)
Known as an expert on all aspects of educational transportation, Voy received the Administrator of the Year award while he was a transportation consultant for Iowa’s Department of Education. An Iowa native, Voy’s commitment to school bus safety motivated him to take on numerous projects: He spent four years overseeing the development of a school bus-specific driver-training simulator, and he served as co-chairperson of the wheelchair standards committee and bus body standards committee for the National Conference on School Transportation.

Mike Roscoe (1995)
Roscoe received the award while serving as the state director of pupil transportation in Kentucky. Previously, he had also held the same title in the state of West Virginia. Known for his technical expertise in school bus transportation, he is a past president of the NAPT and former chairman of the National Safety Council’s School Transportation Executive Committee.

Judith Dahlstrom (1996)
Dahlstrom’s lengthy background in the pupil transportation field and dedication to school bus safety clearly established her as a deserving winner. The first woman ever to receive the award, she has served as a transportation director for more than three decades and spent 10 years on the NAPT’s board of directors. Dahlstrom may be best known as chair of the National School Bus Safety Week Committee. The annual event promotes bus safety through a national poster contest and other informational programs.

Joe Glover (1997)
With a deep commitment to the industry, Glover served as director of transportation at Mansfield (Texas) Independent School District and president of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation. While on NAPT’s Professional Certification Committee, he redesigned the driver certification test, and his work in the area of recertification helped to bring pupil transportation to the next level of safety and professionalism.

Bobby Gaffney (1998)
Gaffney began his educational career as an agriculture teacher who occasionally substituted as a school bus driver. By 1990, he had become the transportation director at Woodford County (Ky.) Schools. He turned what had been an average transportation system into one of the best in the country. Gaffney has also served as president of the Kentucky Association for Pupil Transportation and sat on a number of state committees and task forces.

Joe Mirabella (1999)
Mirabella was transportation director at the Cherry Creek (Colo.) School District when he received the award. During this time, he also served as chairman of the NAPT Professional Growth Committee. But perhaps he is best known for championing a controversial issue: advertising on school buses. His motivation was safety, because he believed the increased revenue from advertising could be used to replace older buses and outdated safety equipment.

Alexandra Robinson (2000)
Combining special-needs expertise with strong management skills and a willingness to serve the industry, Robinson has helped to advance pupil transportation at the local, state and national levels. She began her career as a counselor and teacher of children with severe autism. After serving as a liaison between schools and bus drivers, she transitioned into pupil transportation, eventually becoming transportation director at San Diego Unified School District. She also co-authored “Access and Mobility,” a handbook on special-needs transportation that gained national attention.

Randy McLerran (2001)
McLerran’s career in school transportation began as a senior in high school when he drove a daily school bus route. Later, as a teacher and principal, he still drove a school bus. Eventually, he was named pupil transportation director for the Oklahoma Department of Education. The award acknowledged his broad range of educational transportation experience and accomplishments, but perhaps his most important program was the Oklahoma Bus Safety Speech Contest, which has been expanded into a national contest.

Bob Pape (2002)
Pape, who was transportation director at Lawrence (N.Y.) Public Schools, served as NAPT president in 2001 and ‘02, helping the association secure funds to purchase its offices in Albany, N.Y., and establishing significant financial reserves for research and development. Also, Pape served on the board of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation and was the first president of the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute.

Dennis Essary (2003)
Essary, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on June 27, 2003, received posthumous recognition for his contributions to pupil transportation. Essary served two terms on NAPT’s board of directors, including one as president, in 1995 and ‘96. He received the association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1998. As the transportation director at Beaverton (Ore.) School District, he supervised more than 250 employees and oversaw the operation and maintenance of more than 250 buses and 160 other district vehicles. He also served as transportation director at North Kansas City (Mo.) School District.

Donald Tudor (2004)
Tudor, state director of pupil transportation in South Carolina, has generously contributed his time, energy and wisdom to both NASDPTS and NAPT, serving on the boards of both associations. In addition, he played a pivotal role in helping to pass “Jacob’s law,” a South Carolina law prohibiting the use of 15-passenger vans for school transportation. He has also made key contributions to the National Congress on School Transportation.

Larry Riggsbee (2005)
Riggsbee received recognition for his longtime service with Sumner County (Tenn.) Schools, as associate director. In addition, he serves the Tennessee Association of Pupil Transportation as executive director and executive secretary and spent two terms as the association’s president. Throughout his career, he has always kept in mind his mission to meet the needs of the young people he serves. His constant dedication can be seen in a sign above his door, which simply reads, “Is it best for the children?”

Staff Writer

Staff Writer