Wiregrass Newsroom: Ozark City Schools use grant money to finish fuel project

Ozark, AL (WSFA) -- Ozark City School buses may soon be getting more environmentally friendly fuel on a more permanent basis after being awarded a grant from Governor Bob Riley.

School leaders experimented with the bio-diesel fuel, a blend of petroleum and other energy sources like soybeans and vegetable oil, for a few years.  But, increased costs halted its use in buses.

While leaders are excited about the $2,500 dollar grant, they say it still might not be enough to cover what could be $8,000 dollars worth of bio-diesel start-up expenses.

"The grant as written does not cover the labor costs and cleaning costs of thoroughly cleaning the tank. So we're planning on making some amendments, submit that back and see if they will approve of these additional costs and hopefully that will take care of lot of these expenses," says Howard Harrison, Transportation Director with Ozark City Schools.

It's a project officials are anxious to complete with one main goal in mind.

They say the main reason they're deciding to use bio-diesel is so kids could breathe better air while on the school bus.

"If it's better for the children, then it's worth time and effort and even money into seeing if we can make it work," says Harrison.

That effort makes one mom happy.

"I think it's a good thing.   Because as students who are on the bus for a lengthy amount of time, it will provide them an opportunity to emit fewer gases into the atmosphere.   And it makes me feel like children are our top priority to not only me and my family, but to the school system as a whole--as it should be," says parent, Sharon Waller.

School leaders hope with the help of the grant, all 45 buses in the fleet will be running on the bio-diesel fuel by May.

Reporter: Melissa McKinney