I’d like to comment on your very misleading article of Jan. 5, 2006, regarding the school bus stops. First and foremost, Mr. Michaud may have personally received only one complaint, but how many did Scott Maycomber, Herb Hopkins, the police department, the town manager, and any of the school board and/or town council members receive? How many complaints do the busdrivers hear from parents? How many parents don’t even know who to call? More than one, I assure you. And contrary to Mr. Michaud’s statement that he has had no calls to review any bus stops since the fall, he in fact did have calls. I had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Michaud after the first snowstorm, which left most of the town’s sidewalks inaccessible. Back in the fall after the safety panel reviewed our particular bus stop, the fact that we had sidewalks available was the reason given that we had no “safety issues.” After a long discussion back in the fall, Mr. Michaud stated that he would be happy to revisit and reevaluate any bus stop once the bad weather hit. I would think that would be the responsibility of the safety panel’s, not Mr. Michaud’s.

My recent conversation with Mr. Michaud was nothing short of inconceivable. Now that the sidewalks were not accessible, Mr. Michaud agreed to and supposedly drove down our street for reevaluation. His findings were unaltered from the fall, even though we had no sidewalk availability. Because now Mr. Michaud didn’t have the “safety of sidewalks” as his excuse not to change the bus stop, he went on to state, “Your street is not unlike any other street in Town.” Evidently, they’re all unsafe, and that was acceptable to him. He then jumped to, “Well, it’s not like you’re on Route 1.” At least they clear the sidewalks on Route 1. And his grand finale statement was, “Just have your child walk in the street.” Budget “4,” Safety “0.”

The safety panel, which reviews bus stop concerns of parents is an interesting mixture of hand-picked individuals. First, safety panel members Scott Maycomber and Herb Hopkins are the ones who created the current bus policy. I would expect School Board member David Benneman would agree, with his experience as a lawyer, that you don’t appeal a judge’s decision to the same judge. This safety panel poses an enormous conflict of interest with its current members. It’s supposed to be an impartial panel for parents who have concerns to go to for a fair shake. It’s far from that. And just so you know, bus drivers are forbidden to alter any bus stop, even though they are the ones who are in the best position to judge the safety of a stop on any given day. On other note, Mr. Maycomber and Mr. Hopkins have the power to change bus stops, without approval from anybody.

Be ready property owners for what’s coming next. The topic du jour is, “Who is responsible to keep the sidewalks clear and accessible?” In Portland, where Mr. Michaud resides, if you don’t keep the sidewalk surrounding your property clear, you are fined $250, according to Michaud. I would think that if the property owners are going to be responsible for clearing town-owned property, then the property owner should be compensated. All of your neighbors are going to be delighted to have to get up early and shovel a clear path so our school kids have access to the sidewalks. Tell that to your elderly, sick, or handicapped neighbor. It’s just a great way for the town to avoid responsibility. I would suspect that with just one unfortunate and avoidable accident, God forbid, Mr. Michaud’s presumed $85,000 in savings will be far exceeded and depleted.

Maureen Verreault


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