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Melani Walton, center, received the Global ATHENA Leadership Award with her parents by her side, Chuck and Marleen Lowman of Sidney.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

“Taking my five kids swimming at the pool.”

- Heather Hostetler

“Getting back to work at Cowboy Crane Service.”

- Tristin Fahrnot

“Working because it gets me out of the house.”

- Erika Klodt

“Vacation and a family reunion in Eureka.”

- Don Swenson

“Fishing and gardening. Also spending time with my family.”

- Kenny Van Horn

Mother’s Day contest winner

The winners of the Sidney Herald Mother’s Day photo contest are Leslie Whiteman and her son Jamison. The pair stopped by the Sidney Herald to pick up their prize — a $100 gift card to Reynold’s Market and a year subscription to the Sidney Herald.

Bus drivers recognized for dedication

Throughout the school year, teachers and students have been recognized for their varying accomplishments, but there’s a group of people who seem to have been overlooked: the bus drivers.

With 25 bus and activity drivers, there are quite a few people who put in a lot of work throughout the year.

“We transport the most precious cargo,” said bus driver Shelly Moran.

Moran said, one of the most important things for people to remember is to stop when the red flashing lights and stop sign are showing on the bus. One of her worst experiences was when a child exited her bus and was hit by someone who didn’t stop when they were supposed to.

“It just comes down to everybody is in a hurry and just remember, that could be your child that on the bus,” she said.

The longest route a driver has to drive is 69 miles; that includes driving out to pick up the kids, dropping them off, then picking them up after school and dropping them off. By the time the last student gets off the bus, it’s about an hour they’ve spent on the bus.

Charles Commings, who has been a driver for 30 years, said one of his favorite things is when he gets students who comply well with the rules.

“One favorable thing is when I’ve had to talk to a parent, those parents cooperate 100 percent when I’ve done it myself, because those are my best riders today and some have been with me all along,” Commings said.

Moran, who has been a driver for 37 years, said she has the best route because all her kids are well-behaved and listen. While she said she has so many memorable moments, she could pick just one.

“I’d probably have to say the relationship that has turned into friendship with these students over time. Long-lasting relationships,” Moran said.

Tami Edinger said she has been a driver for almost 27 years and had many stories to tell.

“There’s so many of them [memorable moments]. The kids. You know, the relationships with the kids. They become yours…you watch them grow. You know when their dentist appointments are. You know when their doctor appointments are, when they have dance, you know what their schedules are. They’re an extension of you,” Edinger said.

She said the rewarding part of the job is actually missing the kids when they are no longer on their route.

“It’s hard when they get their drivers license and they don’t have to ride anymore,” Moran said. “It’s like, when you see them coming at you down the road and it’s like, when did you grow up?”

An old student of Moran’s who had gone into the Air Force once came back and stood at his old bus stop and rode the route with Moran.

“It’s cool when they stand out there with their kids for their first day,” said Moran.

Martin Morales Jr. who is the mechanic, also fills in and drives when needed. He’s been driving for two years.

“I had a kindergarten girl who gave me cookie mix and a spatula. She drew a picture too that said I wheelie appreciate you,” Morales Jr. said.

Martin Morales Sr. said he enjoys when they’re out and about and see kids who run up to them yelling that this is their bus driver. Morales Sr. has also been driving for two years.

“There’s some stuff that I’ve written down that the kids have said that are hilarious,” Morales Sr. said. He also noted the district is in need of drivers.

“For myself, when I started driving bus, I had small children and had my family and I wanted to be a full-time mom and this job allowed that,” Moran said.

Edinger said there are perks to the job, like allowing drivers to bring their preschool age kids with them on the route.

“Pick a day and we’ll let anyone come and drive the bus,” Edinger said.

People seem to be intimidated by how big the bus is, but Edinger said it’s a lot easier to drive than people think. And even more gratifying.


5 things

1 Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church Vacation Bible School begins Monday, June 3 until June 7. It will run from 8:30 a.m. — 12 p.m. for its duration. Ages 3 and potty trained through sixth grade are welcome. Registration can be found at svlcsidney.org or call 406-433-7479.

2 Summer Art Camp begins for the week Monday, June 3, at MonDak Heritage Center, ages 12 and over. Cost is $50 for nonmembers and $45 for members, space is limited. Call 433-3500 for more information or to sign up.

3 Third Annual Damon McLaughlin Memorial Golf Tournament (four-person scramble) at Sidney Country Club will be Saturday, June 8, from 9 a.m. — 6 p.m. Cost is $100 per person.

4 Looking to get out of town this weekend? The Bull Moose Mud Run is in Medora, North Dakota, Saturday, June 8, beginning at 1 p.m. It’s a Badlands obstacle course. Online registration can be found at runreg.com/bull-moose-mudder.

5 Culbertson Fire Department will host their breakfast at the Wild West Diner on Saturday, June 8, from 7 — 10 a.m. Free will donations are accepted.

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McGhee convicted of indecent exposure to minor

Barak James McGhee, age 32 of Sidney, was convicted of indecent exposure to a minor in Montana Seventh Judicial District Court in Richland County on May 22. Before McGhee is sentenced, Judge Katherine Bidegaray ordered him to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation, which will result in a recommendation as to treatment and risk level.

McGhee was originally charged with two counts of indecent exposure to a minor in late 2018 when two minors, both age 9, came forward with allegations. The victims said he exposed himself to them during a visit to his apartment.

The same two minors were prior victims of McGhee’s, according to a brief by Deputy County Attorney Charity McLarty. In the brief, it is stated the defendant was accused in North Dakota of gross sexual imposition in January 2015. Court documents indicate the mother of the victims brought allegations forward in both cases.

According to the Montana Code Annotated, a person convicted of indecent exposure to a minor can face up to $50,000 in fines, a prison term of up to four years or both.

Sentencing for McGhee will take place in district court on Monday, July 15, at 10:30 a.m.