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Pictured: (l-r) Stacy Allman, EPD Environmental Specialist and Coordinator of the GaDER Program; Mike Barr, NCSS Director of Support Services; Randall Luna, NCSS Transportation Coordinator; and William Cook, EPD Environmental Engineer and Manager of the GaDER Program.

Newton County Schools was honored last month at the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation’s (GAPT) 50th Annual Conference & Trade Show at Jekyll Island, when the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) presented Newton County School  System (NCSS) with the GaDER Blue Sky Award. 

The Blue Sky Award is the highest achievement offered in the GaDER Program and is awarded to school systems that have reduced emissions in 75% or more of their school bus fleet. Only two other school systems in Georgia received this award.  Randall Luna, Transportation Coordinator and Michael Barr, Director of Support Services, Newton County School System accepted the award.

EPD representatives attended this year’s GAPT Conference to present the Georgia Diesel Emissions Reduction (GaDER) Awards to school systems who reduced diesel emissions pollution in school bus fleets.  Emissions reductions are achieved through the early replacement of older buses, the use of alternative fuels, or by installing emissions control devices on the buses. The GADER School Bus Program assists Georgia school systems by offering grants, technical assistance and education. You can learn more about the GaDER Program by visiting .

William Cook, EPD Environmental Engineer and Manager of the GaDER Program said, “Older diesel buses emit a high amount of particles in the exhaust.  New buses and those that have been retrofitted with diesel particulate filters reduce these particulates by more than 85%, which results in a significant improvement in the air quality inside and around the school bus.   Transportation Directors and their staff who receive a GaDER award should be celebrated for their hard work and dedication to ensure that school children are riding in the safest and cleanest buses available.”  

“Working diligently to be good stewards of the environment serves every citizen in our community,” said Samantha Fuhrey, NCSS Superintendent.  “I am proud of the efforts of our transportation team to reduce our contribution to pollution through reduced emissions! To be named as one of only three districts in the state to receive the Blue Sky Award is certainly confirmation of the focused work of the Newton County School System’s transportation team.” 

GAPT is a professional organization comprised of school transportation associates throughout the State of Georgia whose vision statement is as follows:  “GAPT will serve as the leading resource for pupil transportation professionals in the State of Georgia and inspire a culture of continuous improvement.” The organization’s mission statement has become their focus: "GAPT will build capacity in pupil transportation professionals by providing information, promoting innovation and serving as an advocate for those professionals while they partner with their community to meet the needs of their students." This year’s conference celebrated the organization’s 50th year.

For more information, contact Ms. Vicki Giles, Public Affairs Coordinator for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division/Air Protection Branch, at 404-362-2536.