A Flambeau School bus driver was recently awarded a plaque for driving a school bus one million miles over 46 years at the school.
Dean Chesky began driving when Ray Woebbeking and Joe Bedard came to his house to ask him to drive a school bus. Chesky said they were persistent and with the understanding he would drive until Woebbeking and Bedard found someone else, Chesky agreed.
“As the saying goes, the rest is history,” said Chesky.
Chesky accepted the “One Million Miles” award on Thursday, Oct. 8 at the bus garage after his morning route. Ted Alberson presented a speechless Chesky with the award. Also there was a banner and cards made by Flambeau’s grade school kids. Finance Secretary Stef Harris also helped with organizing the award.
“It took me a while to stop and think, yes, that is a lot of miles,” said Chesky.
The first bus Chesky drove was a 48-passenger, 4-speed stick school bus and it did not have power steering or power brakes. Before COVID-19 struck last spring, his route was 105 miles per day. Since his first day driving Chesky has kept track of his mileage from year to year.
“Seeing how I wasn’t going to drive long I don’t know why. I guess this is why now, all these years later,” said Chesky. Throughout his driving career, Chesky said he’s always had a long route winding around north of Tony, even when the Tony bridge was shut down to light traffic. For quite a few years he had to go around through Ladysmith to get to Tony until the new bridge was built.
Chesky has also driven an after school activity route, for athletic events, during summer school and for class trips to Duluth, the Minnesota Zoo and even Madison.
One school bus driving memory that sticks with Chesky is when he saw Joel Solsrud this summer who thanked Chesky for saving his life. “I was dropping him off at home on U.S. 8 between Tony and Glen Flora,” when he stopped, watched traffic in front and back stop.
Chesky recalled Solsrud had been on the steps ready to go out of the bus doors that were still closed. One last look in the left mirror and Chesky noticed the car behind the bus was gone. A few seconds later the car passed the school bus on the right side, so close to the swing out doors that the car would have hit the doors.
“Yes, they got a ticket,” said Chesky.
Chesky says he really does enjoy driving saying it’s the same route every day but always something a little different to see. Many people wave at him eand he waves back or toos the horn, event hrough he doesn’t know who they are. “Seeing people so friendly, it helps make my day,” said Chesky.
He’s also received calls and messages that have made his day, which he is thankful for.
Over the years Chesky has seen a change in kids and he believes the electronic age has a lot to do with the change. “I know years ago kids did a lot more looking out the windows,” said Chesky, adding he does have some very polite kids on his bus.
Chesky always tries to tell the kids hi and goodbye and they’ll thank him for the ride or have a good day. It makes him feel good that they feel comfortable to talk to him.
Thinking back, there have been some real funny things that the kids have said or done through the years. Chesky said he’s been interested in projects they brought home on the bus and he would talk to them about their work.
“Then there were things that weren’t so funny and we would deal with it and move on,” said Chesky, adding kids have told him some interesting things that went on at home and that he’s sure mom and dad would have liked to have edited.
His primary goal throughout his driving career is to know that he did the best job he could do in looking after the kids to see they were safe on his bus.
The One Million Miles award Chesky received last week was made by the Flambeau Tech Ed students, which made the award that more special.