Busses and routes see key change in ownership
HUGHESVILLE – The wheels on the bus went round and round, all school year long. Though the tires on Don Baylor’s busses will continue to turn, he’ll no longer be in the driver’s seat.
Fast approaching 80 years young, the 1955 Muncy High School graduate seemed satisfied to have had a continuing presence with school and sports.
A sport’s star in his own right, our subject participated in wrestling, football, and baseball. In the latter, he played a dozen years with the West Branch adult league.
The bussing saga started in the 1960’s when owner/operator Glen Fraley of Moreland Township purchased a second bus hiring Baylor as driver with the East Lycoming School District.
Eventually the second bus was sold to Fraley’s son Earl. In the meantime, Earl had taken a truck driving job leaving no time for hauling students. With Baylor still driving, he said to the younger Fraley, “If I’m going to drive and maintain the bus, I might as well own it, and in 1970 we struck a deal.”
Baylor had a job working in Williamsport at Kellogg’s where employment was on again off again. “In 1976, I left my job when ‘Whitey’ Wallis wanted to sell his Route 1 and 2 busses. Two years later, Glen Fraley retired making available his Route 7 bus,” he said.
Baylor enumerated some initial facts remembering one of his first student riders being Jane Moyer. “She was so small, she’d sit by the heater which weren’t as efficient in those days,” Baylor also said. Two of his earliest drivers were Chet Harris and Ed Sherwood.
“In the 1990’s, I began transporting special needs students. The first van had a wheel chair lift with a vehicle capacity to handle three-wheel chairs, and 18 students,” Baylor said. These children were taken to Blast Intermediate Units catering to their specific challenges. Such destinations included Montoursville, Loyalsock, South Williamsport and Williamsport. Drivers spent five hours each day on the road.
Baylor busses were always contracted with the East Lycoming School District. From 1985 to 1996 three were also put on for the Millville School District.
By now, seven buses were on the road with two backups. The latter were needed to transport sports teams, as time restraints required leaving the school before routine routes could be completed.
Bussing for sport events began in August with football and continued through the spring baseball season.
In addition to driving to events, Baylor kept the score book for wrestling matches at Hughesville after Gene Shaner quit. “This continued to include the same for district and regional meets. This will be my 29th year at Williamsport,” Baylor said, assuring us he plans to continue.
Obviously over 55 years, some harrowing driving experiences occurred. The three-mentioned happened on trips away from school.
Returning from a dual wrestling meet at Brookville, a terrific snow storm was treacherous. Another instance was after a track meet in Kutztown, fog was so heavy you couldn’t see the road on route 309 near McAdoo. And then during the ’93 blizzard, on the way home from regionals in Williamsport, route 180 had been closed. Regardless of the closing, Baylor jumped on at Halls and when coming off the Hughesville exit ramp, fell in behind a snowplow which he vows was their saving grace.
“Upon hearing of my retirement, I’m often asked what I’ll do with my time? I jokingly respond, ‘Anything I want.’ I’ll be keeping the vans for a reason to get up in the morning,” he said.
Looking back, Baylor said, “Overall I’ve been blessed with good employees and have had good relations with school staff.”
Of his association with busing sports teams he said, “It was interesting seeing other school facilities. I met many coaches and administrators I now call friends.”
This week, Tim Snyder picked up the yellow motor carriages taking them for state inspection. A few short years ago, Tim sold his fleet to his brother David. Getting back into the bussing business, the wheels on the former Baylor busses will go round again, with Tim Snyder and crew in the drivers’ seats.