Poland honors retiring bus driver Robert Wiegand for almost 20 years of service
Poland Central School District Transportation Supervisor Eric Taylor (left) presents a plaque from the Poland Board of Education to retiring bus driver Robert Wiegand (right) for Wiegand’s years of service to the school community.
POLAND – When retiring Poland Central School District bus driver Robert Wiegand first became a full-time driver in 2003, his thoughts were more on just having a short-term job and less on the importance of the job to students and their families.
“In the beginning, I didn’t think about the responsibility of it,” Wiegand said. “Afterward, I realized what it was. There’s a lot of responsibility you never really think about in the beginning. There is a lot, a lot, a lot of responsibility in getting kids back and forth and everything.”
The Poland Central School District Transportation Department held a retirement reception for Wiegand on Tuesday, June 14, in the bus garage. Wiegand, who lives in the town of Ohio, also received a plaque from the Poland Board of Education for his years of service to the school community. His last day of work before retirement will be Thursday, June 30.
After high school, Wiegand went to work for Fafnir Bearing Co. in Connecticut and floated around to various machine shop jobs. After his brother passed away, he and his wife decided to move back to the Poland area, and Wiegand and others built his house from the foundation up, over the course of multiple years.
Former Poland Transportation Supervisor Robert Tabor trained Wiegand, and Wiegand started driving buses part-time for Poland in 2002 and 2003, before becoming a full-time driver for the district later in 2003.
“I never really thought about being a bus driver,” Wiegand said. “Actually, I originally took it as just a little side job. It turned into a lot more than that. It ended up being 19 years.”
Planned or not, driving buses turned into somewhat of a family tradition because his wife also used to be a school bus driver in Connecticut, and his daughter is still a school bus driver in Connecticut now, he said.
There were times that Wiegand thought about pursing different jobs, but he enjoyed driving buses and having the middle of the day off – which allowed him to work on his house.
“When I was in machine shops and stuff, I was working 10 hours a day sometimes,” he said.
Looking back on his time as a bus driver, Wiegand said he enjoyed the students – most of the time – and he reflected on his long drives to northern parts of the district during his route. At times, it seemed like his route included five different weather districts, he said, and he laughed as he said he could go through rain, sleet, snow, a whiteout and snow-covered roads all during one trip.
In the fall, he enjoyed the foliage along the route, but of course kept his eyes on the road, he said. Another memory that stirred up a laugh was when a turkey suddenly flew out toward the bus one time.
Moving forward into retirement, Wiegand plans to take his time figuring out how to spend his time. Sometimes, he thinks about selling everything and traveling in a small camper or just about eventually having to move out of his house when he can’t maintain it anymore.
But for now, he’s staying put.
“I’m not personally ready to leave after all of the work I put into that house,” he said.