On and Off The Mountain-Stephanie Grubert

The Crestwood School District’s bus runs were unavailable as promised Monday morning August 22. School is scheduled to begin for most of the 3200 students residing in the Crestwood School District on August 29, 2016.

The Mountaintop Bus Company, owned and operated by businessman Kevin Foley, was awarded the contract of transporting students to public and private schools in May 12, 2016. The logistics and manpower required to complete this task appears to be challenging for people who have never taken on a task and executed it to fruition.

As of Monday afternoon the Eagle was unable to speak to Foley or his top logistics aid Brett Shoemaker, or Crestwood School Board Transportation Committee liaison Randy Swank. The newspaper received an anonymous tip that the “new school bus company has pulled out of their contract.” I called Crestwood Superintendent Joseph Gorham “who could not confirm the anonymous complaint, but said that the parties involved would be meeting later in the day.”

Crestwood Director of Transportation Bonnie Gregory confirmed that there were no bus schedules available on August 22 and there would be no press release outlining the first day of school parameters.

A huge crowd of Rinehimer Bus Lines drivers, and concerned parents voiced their positions at last week’s school board meeting. For the better part of two hours Kevin Foley and his logistics manager Brett Shoemaker and the school board were pummeled with questions and negative comments about Foley’s lack of experience in the transportation industry and their vow to never work for him in the Crestwood transportation world.

The parents and the drivers analyzed every possible scenario for failure with the conclusion that the previous contractor, Rinehimer Bus Lines, operated by Scott Henry owner of Martz Trailways was their preferred employer and that they did not support Kevin Foley. “We will not work for Kevin Foley”, was the refrain from more than one driver.

An experienced driver who described herself as a “trainer” and a Mountaintop Bus Company employee said that she had been employed by Neilson, White and another successor company. She worked through different owners with each sale. Going with the flow is what workers need to do to survive. Rinehimer may have guaranteed jobs for 35 years, but the night of the meeting they were no longer the Crestwood provider.

Kevin Foley took a pummeling from the parents and the drivers. He stood his ground and once again asked the Rinehimer drivers at the meeting to apply to drive with his bus company. Foley said he had 70% of the drivers he needs and is actively filling out his roster. Foley’s pledged that the drivers will deliver all of the children to school on the first day.

There are a number of inconsistencies and false information out about Foley’s past experience with the drivers. Some believe he was a former owner of Rinehimer and wrote paychecks that bounced. I have not verified any of that information, which dates to 2011, when Ed Deets, the previous owner of Rinehimer Bus Lines, filed bankruptcy. Foley’s accounting firm handled the bankruptcy reorganization and eventual liquidation of Deets holdings. He was working within the law.

I have known Kevin Foley since 2003, when he purchased the old Mountaintop Hotel building renovating it and opening as Cavanaugh’s Grille. The Irish Pub and Restaurant became a community favorite and enjoyed prosperity through the severe downturn in the economy and beyond. Kevin Foley advertised exclusively with the Mountaintop Eagle and paid his bills on time every month. There were no bounced checks. Kevin Foley is a Certified Public Accountant. Financial management and integrity are how accountants conduct themselves.

When I first heard that Kevin Foley had thrown his proposal into the ring for the Crestwood Transportation Contract I was confused. How could he do this? He doesn’t know anything about busing. Entrepreneurs have vision and drive to embark on new endeavors. Some entrepreneurs only try the challenge once, others become multiple players. I did it twice, succeeded once and folded my cards when the game was over.

Kevin Foley staked $1.8 million in new school buses to run the Crestwood routes. He hired 70% of the drivers he needs and will was positive at getting the other 30% in the next few weeks. Scott Henry played the loyalty card from his drivers. The Mountain Top Bus Company’s fleet identified as Crestwood School District planned to roll on August 29. That commitment is in danger as of the Mountaintop Eagle’s press time of 2 p. m. Monday.

Family Camping The Dicus family came back to

Mountaintop from their weeklong camping trip to Watkins Glen State Park and Cooperstown, New York. Our house was quiet, too quiet as we know from past departures and the reentry of six energetic young people was welcome. The laundry started within minutes of the arrival. 7 days on the road makes quite a pile. The chore spilled out to Sunday afternoon. Oh what did they do 250 years ago in colonial times?

Charlie and I got right to our meal traditions with a steak dinner Saturday night including fresh picked garden beans, continuing to Sunday morning pancakes and Sunday evening grilled chicken and my colorful stir fry medley. I like cooking for a crowd. The duration is not more than two months, so a year round effort would have to be taken on by a younger version of me. It is amazing how much food four healthy children and four adults can consume.

The vegetable garden is ripening lots of squash, beans, tomatoes, broccoli, and I will be picking beets this week. Carrots were not a success this year and the peppers are scant. I need to move my crops around a bit for more sun next year. Gardening is always a challenge. I love it because it gives me lots of exercise and I have my own little farmers market at home. Extra produce goes out to the bench along the road in front of my garden for the neighbors to enjoy.