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Winter rules suggested for Cascade school buses

December 29, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

CASCADE - Parents here are asking Washington County Board of Education officials to re-examine the way they determine whether roads are safe enough for school buses during the winter.

The request comes after a Dec. 22 accident in which a bus carrying Cascade Elementary School students slid on a Ritchie Road, according to parents and a school official.

The bus came to a stop on the ice-covered road with the right-side tires off the pavement, said parent Ken Stotler.

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Stotler said he believes school officials should set up a separate plan to determine whether Cascade-area roads are safe enough for buses during winter weather.

Cascade is in a mountainous area, and therefore tends to get more severe winter weather than some other areas of Washington County, parents said.

A weather system that produces nothing but wet streets in Hagerstown could dump up to six inches of snow in Cascade, said Stotler.

"Every year we have this. They seem to ignore the situation all the time," said Stotler.

School transportation officials could not be reached for comment, but school board member Doris J. Nipps said she was aware of the concerns.

Nipps said school officials are planning a meeting of parents, Superintendent of Schools Herman G. Bartlett Jr., and Director of Transportation Chris Carter to discuss the issue.

A solution to the problem could be early dismissals or late class starts when weather is bad in Cascade, said Nipps.

"We don't want to put these kids in danger, that's for sure," said Nipps.

When it snows, Carter has several workers who drive throughout the county to determine if roads are safe enough for buses, said Nipps.

School officials also consult with county highway crews and the Washington County sheriff's office to determine whether roads are safe, Nipps said.

Parent Doug Minnick said he wonders whether school officials inspect secondary roads.

"If they don't correct the problem, there could be an injury," said Minnick, whose child was riding on the bus that was involved in last week's accident.

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