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Hancock school bus driver makes last stop

July 09, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK -- School is out, and for the past 34 years Patsy Moats has taken this time to rest up from her bus-driving duties and get her vehicle ready for the next school year.

But not this year -- Moats is retiring as a regular route driver.

On a recent warm day, Moats was working on her bus, helping her son paint it blue for its new owner.

"I sold it to Pastor Mark Snyder of the New Beginning Community Church on the Dual Highway," Moats said.

Moats, 69, said her driving career began when she was towing a car for the used car business she and her husband, Paul Sr., used to operate.

"A friend of mine, the late 'Bus' Mitchell, suggested I become a school bus driver," Moats said.

That was in 1975.

She started as a substitute driver for others. Then, a county route became available and she drove a bus owned by Washington County Public Schools for a number of years.

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One winter, Moats said she quit driving because the weather was so bad. But that hiatus didn't last long.

"Homer Stoner told me he needed a driver," Moats said, referring to the late Hancock fire chief/florist/school bus operator. She drove for him for a year.

Twenty-four years ago, Moats became a contractor, buying a bus for $65,000.

"The Washington County Public Schools reimbursed me some and then I owned it free and clear," she said.

Her regular route took Moats through Woodmont and Pearre as well as the outskirts of Hancock.

"I hauled all students together at first," she said.

Later, the elementary and middle/senior high students were separated on different buses.

Moats said she never had an accident in her 34 years.

"Once I forgot to drop one child off, but I went back and then took her home."

"Weather is a factor," Moats said. "Snow never bothered me, but ice was my biggest fear."

Moats said she might substitute for her son, Paul Jr., who has his own school bus.

But she also is planning to do some remodeling to her home. Four of her six children are living. She has five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one on the way.

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