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Dawson-Bryant bus drivers win rodeo

COAL GROVE – They did it again.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

COAL GROVE – They did it again. Dawson-Bryant School District’s team of bus drivers took first place recently in the regional school bus rodeo in Piketon. It’s something the drivers have earned on numerous occasions in the past.

"The first picture I’ve got is from 1978," district transportation director John Goldcamp said.

A room at the bus garage in Coal Grove contains two walls of photos – pictures of winning teams – and a large trophy. In 1994, the team earned a second place in the regionals, but it’s been first place before and since, except for recent years when they sat out of competition, Goldcamp said.

"Our drivers should be proud; they are some of the best in the state," he said.

The bus rodeo competition – sponsored by the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, Ohio Association of Pupil Transportation Directors, Ohio Education Association, Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio School Bus Mechanics Association – can be fierce, with drivers facing road and written tests.

"Actually, one difference in this rodeo than last year’s is there were two written tests," Goldcamp said.

Dawson-Bryant drivers already know there stuff, but studied hard and did well, he said.

One of the road test competitions involves driving a bus between flags on each side of the bus. The space between the flags shrinks over the distance drivers must travel – down to only about 1 to 2 inches of clearance on either side.

Drivers also face tests on their general knowledge, inspection ability, right turn skills, turnarounds, using mirrors, and mock pickups and dropoffs.

Drivers say that although the rodeo is fun, the events test them on what they do on their normal route, which is great practice.

"It’s a refresher on our requirements," said driver and veteran team member Tom Gillenwater. "We have fun but when we’re behind the wheel, it’s serious."

Gillenwater is one of three drivers who will attend the state bus rodeo Saturday in Columbus. The others are Joy Adams and Cathy Blankenship.