Just a few months ago, I made note that the school system was buying new buses to accommodate athletes. The increased demand was a result of changes in game-travel rules designed to cut down on students driving themselves to events.
School officials decided at that time to buy air-conditioned buses, which are more comfortable to ride in, but also more expensive to buy and maintain.
My take on the topic was that we were using taxpayer money to coddle whiners -- to "keep little Johnny from breaking a sweat before he gets home and waddles in to play Nintendo."
Boy, did I catch it after that. The bus drivers, see, are the biggest beneficiaries of air-conditioned buses -- and believe they deserve the extra comfort. They have to sit in the buses for several hours each morning and afternoon, and even longer if they drive for field trips or provide game transportation.
So some of the bus drivers educated me about the need for air-conditioning -- for their benefit, not just the kids. Hey, it makes sense; even with the cooler white roofs the big yellow taxis get hot, especially with our school year starting earlier every year. (The first day of school is next Tuesday, by the way -- did you enjoy your summer vacation? Just kidding; there's a week to go.)
Besides: While I remember surviving just fine on un-air-conditioned buses during my entire career in the Columbia County public school system -- and attending school in classrooms without air conditioning either, for that matter -- I never had to ride in the driver's seat with 50 yelling kids behind me.
Thank goodness: I'd be in jail by now, having run the bus off a bridge to drown the whole load of 'em. (Well, probably not. But maybe through a car wash with the windows open?)
Alas, these are modern times. We consider it a hardship when we can't find the remote and have to actually walk across the room and touch the TV to switch stations. Our expectations and our standards of comfort are far different, but so is our ability to make things more livable
And so, to make the buses more hospitable for drivers and passengers, the school board has decided to buy only air-conditioned buses from now on, and to spend nearly $300,000 to add air conditioners to most of the old buses.
Sure, that kind of money would pay for lots of other things. But the school board has decided to spend it on transportation comfort. I suppose until I'm ready to get in my own car, roll down the windows and ride with the air off -- with a back seat full of hollering third-graders -- there's no sense in complaining.
Besides: I don't want the bus drivers mad at me again.
Wedding bells ring
It's all happiness these days at a couple of local households.
Columbia County Recrea-tion Department Director Charlie Beale is on his honeymoon after marrying Gayle Lewis last weekend.
The pair tied the knot at the Julian Smith Casino gazebo, site of their first-date picnic. The wedding ceremony inadvertently coincided with the arrival at the park of a bicycle race. Hopefully it's been quieter on their cruise.
Meanwhile, News-Times cartoonist Skeet Chambers and South Columbia Ele-mentary School music teacher Niki Morse married this weekend.
The new Mrs. Chambers in the past has been a tremendous help, along with Blue Ridge Elementary's Margar-et Wiggins, in corralling dozens upon dozens of children to sing in the Columbia County Schools Mass Chorus during our annual Christmas-tree lighting.
The two sets of newlyweds should make great teams -- and it helps that Charlie has lots of experience with team sports!
Congratulations to both of the happy couples.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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