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Published: Friday, 12/1/2006

Woodmore tries to work around damaged buses

ELMORE - Just one spare school bus was expected to join the Woodmore school district's bus fleet today, even though four parked Woodmore High buses were vandalized late Wednesday or early yesterday.

The vandalism forced district officials to delay the start of school for two hours yesterday morning, Superintendent Jane Garling said.

Elmore police Sgt. Jeff Harrison said school district officials contacted police around 6 a.m. yesterday morning after they found that the interiors and exteriors of the buses parked in the high school lot at 633 Fremont St. had been sprayed with foam from fire extinguishers and shot with a barrage of paintballs.

The doors of the buses appeared to have been pried open, and damage was done to a bus radio, instrument panel, and several of the buses' cameras, Sergeant Harrison said.

No cost estimate was available on the damages.

School was delayed because the district was unable to run any of the vandalized buses until they were cleaned, repaired, and the fire extinguishers were replaced, Ms. Garling said.

Two were ready to go in time for yesterday's late-morning bus routes, and a third joined the fleet to drop off students at home in the afternoon. But they ran without cameras because those must be ordered before they're replaced, Ms. Garling said.

Although the district has a few spare buses, it does not have enough to replace all four of the damaged vehicles. One of the damaged buses will remain unusable until the instrument panel is repaired.

The district announced a two-hour delay for the start of classes, but not before dozens of students showed up at the high school for their first class, which normally begins at 7:40 a.m.

Ms. Garling said those students were allowed to remain at the school until classes began for the day.

Paintball vandalism was also reported overnight to cars and homes in the village and in the surrounding area.

There are no suspects at this time, but Elmore police and the Ottawa County sheriff's office are continuing to investigate the incidents.

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