CHARLESTON, S.C. — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) presented annual industry awards honoring those who have achieved a level of excellence from all facets of the industry at Tuesday night's awards dinner as part of NSTA's annual meeting here.

"We are very proud of the dedication and commitment this year's honorees have displayed to the industry,” NSTA President Tim Flood said. “Each, in their own way, has left a lasting contribution on the school transportation industry and we commend them for their efforts."

The Golden Merit Award recognizes excellence in the industry in service, safety and community responsibility. This year's recipients include:

•    Lucille Ayotte, Waterbury, Connecticut, First Student Inc.
•    John Benish, Jr., Oak Brook, Illinois, Cook-Illinois Corp.
•    Durham Topeka Customer Service Center, Durham School Services
•    Paul Mori, Huntington Station, New York, Huntington Coach Corp.
•    Brian Rutford, Richmond, California, First Student Inc.
•    Bob Rutkoski, Naperville, Illinois, First Student Inc.
•    Mike Sullivan, Marlborough, Massachusetts, First Student Inc.
•    Marilyn Tasaka, Vancouver, British Columbia, First Student Inc.
•    Laura Warren, Memphis, Tennessee, Durham School Services
•    Bill Young, Los Angeles, First Student Inc.

The Thomas Built Buses Continuing Education Grant is given to a member contractor or their staff to pursue continuing education. This year's recipient is Justin P. Olson of GO Riteway Transportation Group in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

The Outstanding Driver Service Award is given to a school bus driver who has demonstrated exemplary safety performance and a commitment to excellence. This year's recipient is Alfred "Al" Lewis of First Student Inc. in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

NSTA's Green School Bus Fleet Certification Program recognizes NSTA members for their efforts in working toward a cleaner environment. This award has been reviewed and is endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus USA Program. The certification levels to be bestowed are Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze, depending on the level of fleet reduction in particulate matter.

This year's award winners include:

•    First Student Inc.
Bozeman, Montana
Waukesha, Wisconsin
•    National Express Corp.
Roseburg, Oregon
Spokane, Washington
•    First Student, Inc.
Avalon, California       
Santa Ana, California
St. Andrews, California           
West Valley, California
Portland, Oregon

•    Huntington Coach Corp.
Manhasset, New York

•    National Express Corp.
Lewisville, Texas

The Go Yellow, Go Green Award was created to recognize a leader in the school bus industry who has demonstrated initiative and commitment in pursuing positive response to growing environmental concerns. This year's recipient is The Trans Group LLC of Spring Valley, New York.

The Hall of Fame Award recognizes excellence in long-term efforts on behalf of pupil transportation. This year's recipient is Robert "Bob" Pudlewski of Fleet Ops Consulting LLC in Orchard Park, New York.

The Meritorious Service Award was established to recognize an individual who has displayed unparalleled vision, support and leadership toward improving pupil transportation safety, the promotion of NSTA and the school bus industry. This year's recipient is Bill Loshbough of Execuwest Consultants in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Additionally, Student Transportation Inc. Founder, Chairman and CEO Denis J. Gallagher was named School Bus Fleet's Contractor of the Year.

"We congratulate Denis Gallagher. Denis is a leader in the industry and is deserving of such accolades,” Flood said. “We hope that Denis and Student Transportation Inc. will join the association as we believe we can make great strides working together.”

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