Arts school welcomes eco-friendly buses

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mississippi School of the Arts students andfaculty will enjoy two brand new air-conditioned, eco-friendlybuses in the coming school years.

    “These buses will have a huge impact for us,” MSA ExecutiveDirector Suzanne Hirsch said. “We’re all really excited aboutthese.”

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    Hirsch explained the buses were needed because the only buses usedbefore were outdated and becoming a risk for breakdowns.

    Officials held a formal welcoming and unveiling of the buses Mondayat the school. Faculty, staff and students gathered to see thebuses up close for the first time.

    The buses were received through a grant from the MississippiDepartment of Environmental Quality. Keith Head, environmentalengineer, and Freddie Ervin of the air division, both from MDEQ,traveled from Jackson to present the bus.

    According to Head, there were 39 grant applications from variouscompanies around the state for diesel reduction projects. Of thatnumber, only 12 received grants.

    MSA was the only school district in the state to receive one of theMDEQ grants.

    “We awarded a total of $240,000 … and of that, MSA received$41,000 for the two buses,” Head said.

    Kara Nugent, who worked with Hirsch to write the grant application,explained the process that started over a year ago.

    “It was hard,” she said. “But Suzanne helped a lot and gave me alot of direction. I had never written one before so I wasnervous.

    “When we found out in March that we were going to get the buses, Ijumped and jumped,” she continued. “It is very exciting, and it wasnice to hear a ‘yes.'”

    Derek Migues, an rising senior at the school, said the new buseswill be nice to have on campus.

    “They’re not going to be so dirty like the old ones,” he said. “Wehave more freedom now for field trips. Before, we had to take a lotof our trips on short buses.”

    Jeanne Lebow, a creative writing teacher, explained field trips inthe past were limited to places like Jackson and Hattiesburg andother cities with comparable distances from Brookhaven.

    “We never wanted to go too far and then break down,” Lebow said.”And now, we could take trips out of state if we needed to. I couldalso take both my senior and my junior classes on a field trip atthe same time.”

    In addition to the advantages the buses will offer the school andits students and teachers, Hirsch emphasized the economic impactthe buses will have as well.

    According to Thomas Built, the manufacturer of the buses, theSelective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology reduces nitrogenoxides emissions to almost zero.

    In a release from the school about the new bus, the SCR technology”allows the engine to function at a higher, more optimal combustiontemperatures, which increases fuel efficiency and reliability andalso decreases carbon dioxide emissions as fuel economyimproves.”

    Hirsch said the buses are just one exciting aspect of starting thenew school year. Building renovations are also in the process ofbeing completed before classes start.

    “We have a lot to be excited about,” Hirsch said. “It’s going to bean exciting year for us here.”