Arlington School District gets help repairing vandalized buses

Scott Mcabee, a mechanic from the Stanwood-Camano Island School District, repairs a windshield wiper assembly for an Arlington school bus on Aug. 5. - Adam Rudnick
Scott Mcabee, a mechanic from the Stanwood-Camano Island School District, repairs a windshield wiper assembly for an Arlington school bus on Aug. 5.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

ARLINGTON — Three nearby school districts have come to the aid of Arlington School District transportation personnel during their time of need.

With more than 40 school buses badly damaged during a vandalism spree sometime between Friday, July 30 and Monday, Aug. 1, Arlington transportation staff were scrambling to make repairs to windshields, windshield wipers, broken windows and torn seats before the district’s inspection from the Washington State Patrol later this month.

That’s when district supervisor of transportation Cheryl Power got a phone call.

“It was from the Sultan school district wondering if we needed any help,” Power said. “I told them I’d call them back. After I checked into it, I told them that we’d love to have the help.”

Just after 6 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5, mechanics from the Sultan, Stanwood-Camano Island and Marysville school districts showed up at the district bus barn, dressed in coveralls and ready to help.

The help was much appreciated, said Sid Logan, Arlington School District director of operations.

Logan said that each spring or summer, school districts schedule bus inspections from the state patrol. During these inspections, patrolmen do an exhaustive check of all district buses to see whether they meet state safety guidelines.

Because of the extensive damage to the Arlington school buses, transportation officials weren’t sure that they would have the damaged buses ready for inspection.

The district’s transportation department has only two mechanics — one of which was scheduled to be on vacation during the week of Aug. 2.

He voluntarily came back to work when he heard about the vandalism, Logan said.

With help from mechanics Robert Shields and Dave Anderson from the Sultan School District, Scott Mcabee from the Stanwood-Camano School District and Chad Grabner from the Marysville School District, Arlington mechanics were busy installing new windshield wiper assemblies on Aug. 5.

“It’s pretty time-consuming,” Mcabee said about the wipers. “They’re all bent apart. We’re doing a lot of the prep work.”

Logan said that the Arlington School District’s insurance will pay for broken glass clean-up and some of the other repairs, but having extra manpower is appreciated.

Crews from Service Master were also on-hand Aug. 5 cleaning out broken glass from school buses.

“The cleaning is not a small job,” Logan said. “They’re doing a really thorough job making sure that the fine glass and dust is cleaned out of the buses.”

To recognize other district staff, Arlington transportation personnel served their helped lunch, including barbecued hamburgers, watermelon and ice cream.

“The transportation families are just great,” Power said. “Everybody here has just jumped in to help. It brings tears to your eyes.”

Earlier on Aug. 5, the Arlington Police Department announced that it had arrested two Arlington teenagers in connection with bus vandalism.

The two 17-year-old males were booked into Denny Youth Center in Everett on the charge of second-degree burglary.

Detectives from the Arlington Police Department seized a number items as evidence linking the teenagers to the crimes. The juveniles also confessed to the vandalism.

One suspect was arrested in Arlington and another was arrested in the Seattle area on Aug. 5, said city of Arlington spokeswoman Kristin Banfield.

Both teens have a prior criminal history. It was not clear as of press time whether the teenagers were students in the Arlington School District.

Banfield said that the estimated damage to the buses is approaching the $100,000 mark.

The school bus vandalism was the first of three similar cases of property damage in Arlington during the past 10 days.

That same weekend that the bus vandalism occurred, approximately 25 parked vehicles were damaged in the High Clover Park and Heartland neighborhoods. Two other teenagers, a 13-year-old and 14-year-old, were being held on Aug. 5 in connection with that case.

Banfield said that 13-year-old is currently being held at Denny and the 14-year-old was released to his parents.

No suspects have been arrested in connection with an apparent BB gun spree that left seven vehicles damaged in the Gleneagle neighborhood.

The vehicles, as well as one house, were sustained damage sometime between 11 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 5 a.m. on Aug. 4.

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