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Forest Park bus drivers win traffic safety award

CRYSTAL FALLS—The Forest Park schools have received many awards over the years. This time, the district’s bus drivers are in the spotlight.
    During the School Board meeting Jan. 26, Superintendent Becky Waters announced that Forest Park has received a 2014 Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement Award.
    North Dickinson’s bus drivers also received the award. They were the only two school districts in the state to win it.
    Forest Park was nominated by Lt. Christine Grabowski, commander of the Iron Mountain post of the State Police. She cited news articles from late 2013 about problems both districts were giving with drivers passing school buses that had their red lights flashing, a violation of state law.
    “This was a very dangerous issue,” wrote Dave Ponchaud, FP transportation coordinator in his report, “and for some drivers it happened often.”
    The State Police was brought in to help enforce the law and watch for lawbreakers. Troopers did spot checks or followed behind the bus to watch out for the safety of students. If any vehicles passed the bus, they were pulled over.
    “I strongly believe,” said Ponchaud, “that this helped us because of the huge decrease of vehicles passing this year.”
    Ponchaud also said FP bus drivers are responsible for following 17 requirements when they load and unload students. “Each and every driver here for Forest Park follows them.”
    The award comes from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee and will be presented March 25 at the group’s traffic safety awards luncheon in East Lansing. It honors individuals and groups “for their special involvement and dedication to traffic safety.”
    Ponchaud asked that three other drivers go down with him to receive the award. “This is a huge pat on the back for the transportation team.”
    • On an unrelated matter, board members heard about an incident involving

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