The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Holly Willdrick - Quill Reporter
On Thursday, February 9, IEPA Director Doug Scott presented a grant to the LaHarpe School District on behalf of Governor Rod R. Blgojevich. A check in the amount of $21,876 was presented to the school board as part of the "Drive Green, Clean School Bus Program."
Nauvoo-Colusa was also present to receive a grant for their school district.
With these two schools now participating in the program, Hancock County is the first in the state to have all of its school districts participating.
"Hancock County may be one of the smallest Illinois counties in population but it looms large when it comes to environmental commitment," said Director Scott.
Launched about two years ago by Governor Blagojevich, the Clean School Bus Program, has paid for catalysts and other emission controls, and biodiesel and ultra low-sulfur diesel fuels for nearly 2,000 diesel school buses in 65 school districts to help reduce potentially harmful air pollutants and make schoolyards healthier for students and staff.
"Hancock County educators and citizens have taken a pro-active leadership role in addressing this potential health hazard to their kids and are a shining example to all of Illinois," Director Scott said.
Several La Harpe students, including members of the Future Farmers of America and the fourth grade classes of Mrs. Hitz and Mrs. Meyers, used part of their lunch period and recess to attend Director Scott's announcement. Also attending were La Harpe Superintendent Jo Campbell and Nauvoo-Colusa Elementary School Principal Mrs. Maxine Dennison, school board members, and some area farmers.
Pat Dietrich, wife of a local farmer and an employee of the school district, stated that "It would have been hard for us (financially) to have made this change without this grant".
"The Clean School Bus Program will enable our district to provide a healthier environment for our children by improving air quality, not only for students riding our buses, but also for everyone around our schools and other areas of the community. Grant funds will enable our existing fleet of buses to be equipped with new clean air technology," said Superintendent Campbell.
"The grant will also provide for the cost effective use of bio-diesel fuel, which is a cleaner fuel and one that is supported by our local agricultural economy. I greatly appreciate the work of the Illinois EPA. Their efforts and assistance have enabled our district to take full advantage of this grant opportunity."