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Legislature should pass bus safety bills

| February 25, 2021 12:00 AM

It’s encouraging to see bipartisan support for two bills aimed at improving school bus safety. Sponsored by Eureka Rep. Neil Duram, both bills won unanimous approval in the Montana House and are now awaiting committee hearings in the Senate.

One bill would enable school buses to be equipped with additional flashing red lights; the other makes changes to state law, including prohibiting motorists from passing buses on the right and requiring buses to use extended 6-foot stop arms in certain cases.

School bus safety has been on the minds of Flathead Valley residents since the tragic accident in November 2019, when elementary student Jordana Hubble was hit and severely injured by a vehicle while getting off a school bus on U.S. 93 west of Whitefish. Hubble continues to recover from a traumatic brain injury.

We know there have been many close calls with other students. As one example, Katy Morrison testified that her 12-year-old son, Caden, a student at Kalispell Middle School, was nearly hit by a dump truck while getting off a bus in December.

While tighter restrictions to protect our students are needed when it comes to school bus safety, educating drivers about the rules also is paramount. That’s why it’s great to see a new local group, Jordana’s Alliance for Bus Safety, leading the charge for a safer environment out there on our highways. Drivers must do their part to keep our students safe.

It’s encouraging to see bipartisan support for two bills aimed at improving school bus safety. Sponsored by Eureka Rep. Neil Duram, both bills won unanimous approval in the Montana House and are now awaiting committee hearings in the Senate.

One bill would enable school buses to be equipped with additional flashing red lights; the other makes changes to state law, including prohibiting motorists from passing buses on the right and requiring buses to use extended 6-foot stop arms in certain cases.

School bus safety has been on the minds of Flathead Valley residents since the tragic accident in November 2019, when elementary student Jordana Hubble was hit and severely injured by a vehicle while getting off a school bus on U.S. 93 west of Whitefish. Hubble continues to recover from a traumatic brain injury.

We know there have been many close calls with other students. As one example, Katy Morrison testified that her 12-year-old son, Caden, a student at Kalispell Middle School, was nearly hit by a dump truck while getting off a bus in December.

While tighter restrictions to protect our students are needed when it comes to school bus safety, educating drivers about the rules also is paramount. That’s why it’s great to see a new local group, Jordana’s Alliance for Bus Safety, leading the charge for a safer environment out there on our highways. Drivers must do their part to keep our students safe.

History was made last weekend when the Flathead High School girls wrestling program won the first-ever state girls wrestling tournament.

Flathead took 11 wrestlers to the tourney and six placed.

“It was a team effort,” Flathead assistant Amber Dowling said, adding that “every girl on the team helped win the title.”

Bringing home the state trophy was the icing on the cake for the sport’s inaugural season and local enthusiasm for the new sport is riding high.

“It was an awful good time,” Flathead assistant Sully Sullivan added. “Girls wrestling in Montana has a very bright future from what I’ve seen this year.”

Kudos to the coaches and athletes who helped get this sport off to an exciting start and we look forward to watching the program grow and prosper.