Helena group explores country with new bus

Published 3:33 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Police Explorers purchased a 25-passenger bus to help keep costs down for competition trips across the country, said Helena Police Chief Doug Jones.

“This isn’t going to cost the city a dime,” he said. “This is what the kids want to work on. I thought it was pretty special that the kids wanted to do this.”

Helena Police Explorers is made up of youths aged 14-21 who are interested in learning about law enforcement. Several members of the group are currently at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., at another competition.

“Last time, we had to use a 15-passenger bus and rent another 15-passenger bus,” Jones said. “Now we’re not going to have to spend the money to rent, and we’ll save money on gas. The kids get to ride together, too.”

The Colorado trip marked the Police Explorers’ inaugural journey in the bus, which cost $47,000. National Bus Sales out of Marietta, Ga., was the lowest bidder. National Bus Sales delivered the bus to the Explorers July 17.

The Explorers purchased the bus with money they raised by themselves. They liquidated some Explorers equipment and hosted a golf tournament to help raise the money. Once the idea was planted, it didn’t take long to raise the money, Jones said.

“They wanted to buy a passenger bus so they could use it, and the city could use it,” he said. “They wanted to have something the senior citizens could use, too.”

Helena City Council member Jerry Pate said the Explorers’ good works haven’t gone unnoticed by the community or the country.

“They’re nationally recognized and get Helena some good, positive national recognition too,” he said. “It’s definitely a positive thing for Helena.”

Pate said the Explorers are a common sight at volunteer opportunities in the city.

“They’re always ready to help,” he said.

Jones said the bus has provided positive reinforcement for the group’s youngsters.

“They worked hard for this thing. They’ve got a little bit of self-pride and they should,” he said. “It’s fun to watch young men and women that want to be something. They’ve won several competitions. They’ve always done well with competitions. It means something to them.”