Archive for February, 2013

School bus drivers underappreciated

School busTo?The Daily:?I work for the Decatur City School system and was struck by the story of the Alabama school bus driver who died while trying to protect the students on his bus from the armed kidnapper who consequently killed the driver.

As I drove home from work this week, a school bus stopped in front of me. The bus driver appeared with a very young and small student and led her by the hand across the street to the safety of her home. Wow. I was impressed, as I am on a continuing basis by the bus drivers I meet as a member of the school system. For years, I have met one after the other of these professional and caring drivers who we trust with our children’s safety.

Bus drivers are a group of people belonging in the “under appreciated” jobs of America category. My thanks goes to them. By the way, when I stopped for the bus driver who escorted the little girl across the street, the driver in the car behind me “honked” impatiently at the bus driver as he hurried back to his bus. Go figure.

George Hartselle

Decatur

Teen attacks Metrobus driver with pepper spray

WASHINGTON, DC –

A Metrobus driver is recovering at home after a teen passenger sprayed him in the face with pepper spray.

It happened on the B-2 bus at Minnesota Avenue at Pennsylvania Avenue early Friday morning. The driver was

confronted by two teens who wanted him to do things their way.

“They wanted to get off the bus, and the driver told them he can only stop at designated stops. They weren’t happy about that, and one of them sprayed him in the head with pepper spray,” Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel says.

The driver was treated by medics at the scene. The passengers were put on another bus to continue their trip. Police canvassed the neighborhood, but came up empty. They’re hoping some video from the busses camera will help them identify the suspects, described as two black males between 16 and 19 years old. They both had tattoos under their eyes, and they were wearing rolled skull caps.

On any given day, there are two dozen Metro Transit Police Officers in plain clothes riding the busses, but drivers are still targeted and hurt.

Metro says 74 drivers were assaulted last year, everything from being spit on, to having rocks thrown at their busses. One of those rocks hit a female driver in the head.

The Metro Board has just authorized two dozen additional Metro Transit Police officers just for the busses. At the request of the drivers’ Union, more of the officers will be in uniform. They’ll be deployed based on crime hot spots.

Stessel says the additional officers are being trained in police academies in DC, Maryland, and Virginia right now, and should be on the busses by late summer.

Read more:?http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/21312533/teen-attacks-metrobus-driver-with-pepper-spray#ixzz2LjcQY8U1

Two new International Vice Presidents appointed

?Local?1700?President Bruce Hamilton and International Representative Claudia Hudson have been appointed as International Vice Presidents.

?Bruce and Claudia bring a wealth of experience, commitment, leadership and service at ATU,? said International President Larry Hanley. ?They are strong additions to our GEB and we look forward to both of them serving as International Vice Presidents.?

Since 2005 Hamilton has served as President of Local?1700, which represents Greyhound and other intercity bus workers. As president of the ATU?s only national local union, Bruce has worked in every part of the U.S., negotiating contracts and organizing terminal workers. He joined ATU in 1971 as a Greyhound driver in Des Moines, IA, and has been a union activist at Greyhound for three decades. Hamilton played a key role in all of the big battles, from deregulation of the intercity bus industry to the 1983 strike, to the struggle to preserve the terminal workers? jobs, to the horrific strike of 1990-1993. He most recently led the latest contract negotiations that produced a contract for Greyhound drivers and mechanics that returns wage rules that have not been in the contract in years.

Bruce has been working on the extension of the Fair Labor Standards Act to intercity bus workers and his appointment signals a strengthened commitment by the International to that cause. Three times as many passengers and workers were killed in bus accidents in the last five years in the US than in plane crashes, largely due to working conditions imposed by deregulation. ?He lives in New York City with his wife Kathryn.

Hudson joined ATU as a bus operator in September 1979 in Oakland, CA for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit). In 1989 she was elected Shop Steward of Local?192-Oakland and served in that role until being elected Vice President in 1996. Hudson was elected President of the Local in 2009 and then left that post after being appointed an International Representative in February 2011. Hudson has worked extensively with the ATU Field Mobilization Department in campaigns across the US. Her experience includes work on the Chicago Trusteeship of Local 241 and campaigns in Michigan, Ohio, and in the south. She has been trained by the Gamaliel Foundation in community organizing and worked extensively on the 2012 ATU passenger organizing and political outreach campaigns.

A 2013 graduate of the Harvard Trade Union Program she will be the third woman on the ATU General Executive Board, and our first African American woman since the retirement of IVP Karen Simmons. A native of Richmond, California, she is a single mother of two and has five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Any real crackdown on unsafe bus operators must address driver fatigue

The U.S. Transportation Department?s new crackdown on unsafe tour bus companies will not significantly reduce interstate bus accidents until federal law is amended to require these companies to pay their bus operators overtime.

Recent fatal accidents in Oregon and California have highlighted the problems of unscrupulous bus companies that force drivers to work 100 hours and second jobs to make ends meet. In the U.S. intercity bus drivers are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime provisions. Deregulation of the industry in the 1980s gave rise to countless small, “fly-by-night” operators that have been involved in an increasing number of deadly crashes.?Watch CNN story?on this unsafe industry.

?How many more people need to die in bus crashes before we deal with the real problem behind these accidents ? driver fatigue,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?The DOT crackdown will take some unscrupulous operators off road, but until overtime regulations for intercity drivers are enacted by Congress and enforced we will continue to see carnage on our highways.”?Read full statement.

Fight over Atlanta transit legislation harkens back to days of Jim Crow

Proposed legislation to change the power structure of metro Atlanta’s mass transit system (MARTA) and privatize much of the operations has raised the complicated politics of race.

Recognizing what?s at stake for workers and riders who are predominantly African-American, ATU Local732?- Atlanta has launched a campaign to fight the legislation, which just passed through the Georgia House of Representatives and will now be taken up by the Senate.

The legislation would shift control of MARTA away from the two county commissions that currently choose the 11-member advisory board, to a broader group that includes the governor and the mayors of those counties.?The change would give Republicans and white communities more control over a system with a 75 percent African-American ridership.

It would also require MARTA to outsource many of its operations to the lowest private bidder ? most likely a foreign company like Veolia who would claim to increase efficiency, save money and provide better service. In reality, Veolia would save money by firing workers, cutting service and maintenance, and increasing fares.

At its core, privatization is ?separate and unequal,? and a step back in the fight for racial and human justice for all.?Read more.

ATU-rider coalition campaign leads to night service in New Bedford, MA

Thanks to the hard work of New Bedford and Fall River transit workers and riders, night bus service will begin. The Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) plans to roll out the new service in June.

Over the last two years Locals?174-Fall River and?1037-New Bedford have been working with Bus Riders United, a coalition of riders and transit advocates, to fight for more and improved bus service.

The BRU?s campaign to engage politicians and the community about the importance of the investment in public transit to New Bedford?s economy played a key role in SRTA?s decision to launch night bus service.

?The BRU has been instrumental in getting SRTA to reinstitute holiday bus service for the last year and a fare restructuring that eliminated ones and made using the bus system more user friendly, which has lead to increased ridership,? said Local 1037 President Gary Pires. ?We will now be waging a campaign to make night service permanent and expand it so people can get to and from work and bring customers to area businesses.??Read more.

New poll shows Minnesotans support transit projects

More than 90 percent of Minnesotans agreed that investment in public transportation is good for the state according to a new poll released by the group Transit for a Stronger Economy, a new broad-based, statewide coalition that includes ATU Local?1005?– Minneapolis.

The poll found a majority support paying more in taxes to expand and improve public transportation. The top reasons for supporting transit were that public transportation creates jobs, reduces traffic congestion, and ensures transit options are available to all.

Transit for a Stronger Economy is advocating for an additional $300 million per year in the metro area and $32 million per year in Greater Minnesota to build out the transit system in 15 years, not 30 or more.?Read more.

New ATU jacket winner, Stay connected to win!

Congratulations to ATU?s latest jacket winner Katharine Crawford, president/business agent of school bus Local?1602?? St Catharines, ON!

Stay connected and you too could win an ATU jacket like Katharine. More winners will be announced soon.

Please pass this message along to your fellow members and tell them to sign up for the latest ATU news and action alerts at?atu.org?for a chance to win an ATU jacket. To be eligible for the drawings, simply type your e-mail, local union number, and zip or postal code in the boxes on the opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win in this contest.

NYC school bus strike over

 


In light of a letter from all of the serious contenders in New York City?s coming mayoral election and appeals from NYC City Council members,the leaders of Local?1181?? New York have voted to end the five-week old strike of NYC school bus drivers and matrons.?Read more.

With Mayor Bloomberg leaving office this year and the candidates ?pledging, if elected, to revisit the school bus transportation system and contracts and take effective action to insure that the important job security, wages and benefits of your members are protected within the bidding process,? it was in the best interest of the end the strike.?Read letter.

The Local looks forward to working with the new mayor and the city to come up with a solution to this dispute that ensures the important employee protections for school bus drivers and matrons.

?It?s been a long five weeks and I?m proud of the strength, solidarity, and courage our members showed each and every day on the picket lines,? said Local 1181 President Michael Cordiello. ?We want to thank all our supporters who helped us through this difficult time. Our bus drivers and matrons look forward to getting back to work and doing the important job of safely transporting the students, who are like our own children, to and from school each day.?

Yuma (AZ) transit workers avert strike for now

Yuma bus riders can breathe a sigh of relief as Yuma County Area Transportation (YCAT) transit workers will remain on the job as contract talks are set to continue in mid-March. The bus drivers, mechanics and utility workers, members of Local?1433-Phoenix, AZ, had voted to go on strike if negotiations failed this week with First Transit, manager of YCAT.

?The YCAT operators are some of the lowest paid professional operators in the West,? says Local President Bob Bean. ?They also have to work six days a week to maybe make 36 hours a week. ?They’re not even making it above poverty level. We’re trying to get them a contract so they can afford to live.?

Bean added that the workers also don’t have sick days; and if they do take a day off, it goes on their attendance record, and after a certain number, they’re fired. The local has asked Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, to intervene.

The workers also asked ATU to represent them in negotiations with First Transit last year, and voted unanimously to join the Union in April.?Read more.

Calling for more dedicated, long term sustainable funding for mass transit, Pennsylvania locals and state politicians joined a coalition of hundreds of riders, workers, and activists at a rally in Harrisburg?s capitol rotunda in response to Republican Governor Tom Corbett?s recently released transportation proposal.ATU &?

PA transit advocates rally for more state funding

?Bus lines and transit lines are our lifelines,? says Molly Nichols, a volunteer with Pittsburghers for Public Transit. ?We use them to get to school, to work, to the doctor?s office, to churches, to shops ? and current transit service is not efficient or affordable.?

From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, to Erie and Scranton, transit systems across the state are facing a severe funding crisis that needs more attention from the governor and lawmakers.

Pittsburgh rider Carolyn Kemp said the cutbacks are causing day-to-day problems for riders like her. ?Every day that I try to catch the bus, three or four go by that are too full to pick me up. This is ridiculous,? Kemp said.

State legislators at the rally and demonstrators vowed to fight any efforts to privatize public transit.

?We?re not going there,? said State Senator Jay Costa. ?This administration has started by trying to privatize wine and spirit shops. They want to privatize the lottery fund. We?re not going there, and we sure as hell are not going to let them privatize mass transit.”?Read more.

 

Pensacola transit workers protest proposal to divert gas tax funds from transit

Pensacola would suffer drastic cuts to bus service if the City?s planned use of proceeds from the recently passed gas tax are not used to fund the transit system as proposed says Escambia Transit County Area (ECAT) transit workers at a rally to protest the plan.

Carrying signs reading ?Fund ECAT? riders and transit workers, members of ATU Local 1395 ? Pensacola, painted red X?s on bus to represent the bus routes that would be cut. Ridership is up 11 percent from 2011 and the system is strapped for money.

Local 1395 members played a key in getting in the Escambia County commission to approve the 4-cent gas tax across the county last year, with a goal of providing about $4 million in dedicated annual revenue to the ECAT.

Now Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has announced plans to use gas tax proceeds to expand the airport.

?If the City Council does not support the County Commission’s 4-cent gas tax and dedicate their portion of the money…that could ultimately cause some serious problems for you, the passengers and the citizens of the community,” Local 1395 President Michael Lowery told riders and transit supporters.Read more.

 


Atlanta transit workers gearing up for privatization fight

Atlanta transit workers, members of Local 732 ? Atlanta, are teaming with Georgians for Transit, local politicians and other transit advocates to gear up for a campaign to stop plans for privatization of MARTA ? the city?s public transit system..

A flawed KPMG report commissioned by the city has recommended that the system be privatized, and a bill to that effect has been introduced in the Georgia legislature.?Another soon to be released report, however, calls the KPMG paper?a ?biased report based on false comparisons, illegitimate cost measures, incomplete data, and short-sighted observations? to arrive at the conclusion that Atlanta?s transit system should be privatized.??Stay tuned. This is gearing up to be a ?battle royale.?

Stay connected for your chance to win an ATU jacket!

Don?t miss out! More winners of an ATU Jacket will be announced soon. For your chance to win and more importantly to get the latest ATU news and action alerts sign up at?atu.org. To enter the contest, simply provide your e-mail, local number and postal code. If you have already submitted your email you?re still signed up for the contest, simply click ?Skip and Continue to Website.?

Thousands to march in support of NYC school bus strikers Sunday


Braving an historic winter storm, thousands of ATU members, parents and allies will march in New York City on Sunday to support striking drivers and matrons. Protestors will be calling on Mayor Bloomberg to stop blaming school bus drivers and matrons for the rising transportation costs and negotiate with Local 1181 to put an end to this strike, which is now in its 4th?week

At the center of the dispute is the Mayor?s plan to eliminate a bid provision for 1,100 bus routes serving special needs students that ensures the most experienced, well-trained operators and matrons are on the job.

The mayor?s plan to solicit those bids later this month would almost assure that 8,000 ATU members would lose their jobs to low-paid, non-union workers.?But, support remains strong in the city among parents and City Council.

If you are in NYC on Sunday you can join the strike supporters at 12:30 pm at Cadman Plaza Park (Cadman Plaza W. and Tillary St., Brooklyn, NY), and march over the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall (Broadway) where a rally will be held at 1:30 pm.

Dallas dispute ends with rider appreciation campaign

Local?1338-Dallas, TX, was at an impasse with First Transit of Denton County.

Having negotiated an increase in wages in the next contract, the company was trying to back out of an agreement to pay 10 months of retroactive wages. But the members stood firm and the company relented.

The positive outcome motivated the members to turn a planned informational picket on the contract dispute into an ATU ?Thanks for Riding Public Transportation Campaign.??Passengers were pleasantly surprised to see a positive message after a weekend of negative news reports about a possible disruption of bus service.

West Palm Beach, FL paratransit drivers hold protest, might strike

Palm Tran Connection drivers, members of Local?1577 ??West Palm Beach, FL, demonstrated Tuesday, against poor wages and working conditions at Metro Mobility Management Group (MMMG) ? the company contracted to provide the area?s paratransit service. Drivers say they have been forced to work 12-14 hours days with no break and no health benefits.

?This is about ensuring the safety and security of Palm Tran?s most vulnerable passengers, who rely on the service to get to and from the doctor and other daily activities,? says Local 1577 President Dwight Mattingly. ?These drivers are being forced to work abusive hours and unsafe work conditions, and then being publicly blamed for the poor service. It?s time for this abuse to stop.?

The local says they?ll strike unless the company stops these and other practices such as threatening to suspend or terminate drivers who refuse additional work after driving 10 ? 13 hours, and making employees use personal cell phones to communicate with dispatchers.

Palm Tran Connection drivers get no regular days off and can be called to work as late as the night before they are required to show up.

The NLRB has charged MMMG with numerous violations of federal labor law, and the Federal 11thCircuit Court of Appeals has issued two counts of Contempt of Court against the company for failing to bargain with the local, and pay back wages.?Read more.


Metro Vancouver mayors suggest new transit sales tax

Recognizing public transit is critical to their communities? economies and mobility, Metro Vancouver, BC, mayors are proposing a small regional sales tax of 0.1 to 0.2 percent to fill the current TransLink funding gap.?The mayors believe the tax could raise $50 million to $100 million for the cash-strapped transportation agency.

TransLink Mayors? Council Chair Richard Walton?says citizens who don?t use transit may not realize how the service is a benefit to them. ?It?s not possible for anyone to take themselves out of the equation. Just because you don?t take transit and you only drive doesn?t mean you?re not dependent upon moving goods and people throughout the region efficently.?

The proposal also calls for the consideration of four other funding ideas including a vehicle levy and carbon tax revenue.?Read more.

Cleveland transit agency adding new security cameras to combat attacks on drivers

Responding to pressure from Local?268-Cleveland, OH, and the public, the RTA is proposing the agency spend $2.5 million to install or upgrade security cameras on its buses and trains.?The push for improved safety on the transit system comes in the wake of a spate of violent attacks on Local 268 drivers.

Under the plan security cameras would be added 230 buses and upgrade video systems on nearly 100 buses or trains. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is expected to approve the plan later this month.?Read more.

Another day, another bus crash

A ski bus crash in California that took 8 lives and injured 30 and a Boston accident that injured dozens are more tragic reminders of why it?s time to address driver fatigue to protect bus drivers and the passengers they carry.

?When we hear about a tour bus accident we are almost 100 percent sure that the fatigue of the driver played a factor in crash,? says ATU International President Larry Hanley. ?It?s time for federal agency heads and members of Congress to stop turning a blind eye to the carnage on our highways. We need serious federal regulation of this critical, safety sensitive industry.?

According to ATU?s “Sudden Death Overtime” the NTSB has found driver fatigue to be the number one cause of motorcoach bus accidents. The ATU is calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the Driver Fatigue Prevention Act, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which would extend the overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to over-the-road drivers.

?How many more people need to die in bus crashes before we deal with the real problem behind these accidents,? says Hanley. ?Until overtime regulations are enacted and enforced we will continue to see carnage on the highways.”?Read more.

Stay connected for your chance to win an ATU jacket!

With the historic winter storm “Nemo” hitting the Northeast and cold temperatures continuing across most of the country wouldn’t a new ATU jacket be nice to keep you warm.

Stay connected and you could win one.

All you have to do is sign up for latest ATU news and action alerts at www.atu.org to enter. To be eligible for the drawings, simply type your e-mail, local union number, and zip or postal code in the boxes on the opening page and click ?Go.?? Don?t worry, if you?ve already submitted your email you?re still eligible to win in this contest.

Houston school bus drivers demand increased security measures

OUSTON (FOX 26) –

The two HISD bus drivers we spoke with have more than 30 years of experience together getting your children to and from school safely.

One says, “it’s kind of frightening that it could happen anywhere and if it were to happen here in HISd I think my panic button would kick in and I wouldn’t know what to do.”

The drivers are talking about the terrible tragedy in Alabama where a bus driver was killed and a child taken hostage. It has left HISD drivers pleading for more security measures. The drivers didn’t want to be identified.

Another driver says, “we need four or five extra hours of training because you never know when something like this will happen.”

HISD sent FOX 26 news a statement saying they are providing additional counter-terrorism training to drivers this week. A refresher course to the training they received last year. But drivers say they want more like metal detectors on the bus and a hidden panic button.

The driver says, “our panic button is so we can alarm them to let them know we’re calling for some help.”

Hanan Yadin is a security consultant who grew up in Israel. At 16 he was trained to fight terrorists who could potentially enter his high school.

He says HISD should take the bus drivers seriously because there’s always that potential of a crazed gunman getting on a bus.

Yadin says buses should be scanned at the beginning and end of day…drivers and students trained to identify a threat and a strong police presence at schools.

Yadin says, “training should be reviewed and se what else can be added. The more layers of security the more range of security you add around the bus and the school the better it is.”

Those HISD drivers agree…while they’re appreciative of the refresher course the district is offering – they want more tools including those metal detectors and panic buttons on their buses.

HISD released the following statement in response to the bus drivers’ concerns:

The safety of all HISD students and bus drivers is a top priority but there are no plans to install metal detectors on HISD school buses. However all HISD bus drivers have received extensive hands-on training in counterterrorism which included a mock disaster drill on a bus involving an armed intruder and an actual overturned school bus. These drills involved staged student and adult injuries which allowed bus drivers and attendants to use their certified training in American Red Cross first aid. And finally, bus drivers received extensive training in the importance of both pre-trip and post-trip inspections looking for suspicious items.

Read more:?http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/20962181/2013/02/04/houston-school-bus-drivers-demand-increased-security-measures#ixzz2JzW1ilyU

Standoff after Alabama gunman kills bus driver, takes child

Law enforcement personnel work at checkpoint on Wednesday in Midland City, Ala., near the home where the school bus shooting suspect is barricaded in a bunker with a young child as hostage. Law enforcement personnel work at checkpoint on Wednesday in Midland City, Ala., near the home where the school bus shooting suspect is barricaded in a bunker with a young child as hostage. (The Dothan Eagle, Jay Hare/Associated Press)

SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman’s rural property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartener’s safe release.

The situation remained unchanged late Wednesday, with negotiations ongoing, Alabama State Trooper Charles Dysart told a news conference. He said no additional information would be released until Thursday morning.

The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.

Distraught residents of Midland City, Ala., look over the school bus where the driver was fatally shot Tuesday.

Distraught residents of Midland City, Ala., look over the school bus where the driver was fatally shot Tuesday.?(Danny Tindell/The Dothan Eagle/Associated Press)He had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.The standoff along a red dirt road began on Tuesday afternoon, after a gunman boarded a stopped school bus filled with children in the town of Midland City, population 2,300. Sheriff Wally Olson said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a 5-year-old child. The gunman then took the boy away.

“As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation,” said Michael Senn, a pastor who helped comfort the traumatized children after the attack.

Authorities initially said the boy was six, but state Rep. Steve Clouse, who visited the boy’s family, said he does not turn six until next week.

Slain bus driver called a hero

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students.

The boy’s classmates, their parents and other members of this small Bible Belt community gathered in several churches and held a candlelight vigil in the town square Wednesday evening to pray for Poland and for the boy’s safety. Some in the square joined together to sing “Amazing Grace.”

Authorities gave no details on the standoff, and it was unclear if Dykes made any demands from his underground bunker, which resembled a tornado shelter.

The sheriff said in a brief statement Wednesday evening that negotiators continued talking to the suspect and “at this time we have no reason to believe that the child has been harmed.”

About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered at the end of a dirt road near where Dykes lived in a small travel trailer. Nearby homes were evacuated after authorities found what was believed to be a bomb on his property.

Clouse, who also has met with authorities, said the bunker had food and electricity, and the youngster was watching TV. He said law enforcement authorities were communicating with the gunman, but he had no details on how.

At one point, authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said. The lawmaker said he did not know what the medicine was for or whether it was urgently needed.

Mike and Patricia Smith, who live across the street from Dykes and whose two children were on the bus when the shooting happened, said their youngsters had a run-in with him about 10 months ago.

“My bulldogs got loose and went over there,” Patricia Smith said. “The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back.”

“He’s very paranoid,” her husband said. “He goes around in his yard at night with a flashlight and shotgun.”

Patricia Smith said her children told her what happened on the bus: Two other children had just been dropped off and the Smith children were next. Dykes stepped onto the bus and grabbed the door so the driver couldn’t close it. Dykes told the driver he wanted two boys, six to eight years old, without saying why.

According to Smith, Dykes started down the aisle of the bus and the driver put his arm out to block him. Dykes fired four shots at Poland with a handgun, Smith said.

“He did give his life, saving children,” Mike Smith said.

Patricia Smith said her daughter, a high school senior, began corralling the other children and headed for the back of the bus while Dykes and the driver were arguing. Later, Smith’s son ran inside his house, telling his mother: “The crazy man across the street shot the bus driver and Mr. Poland won’t wake up.”

Patricia Smith ran over to the bus and saw the driver slumped over in his seat. Her daughter used another child’s cellphone to call 911.

Neighbour?s dog beaten to death

Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.

“He said his only regret was he didn’t beat him to death all the way,” Wilbur said. “If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it’s nothing until it’s going to be people.”

Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors as they drove by his house weeks ago. Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

“Before this happened, I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me,” Davis said. “On Monday I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just stared and stared and stared at me.”

 

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