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John Reger was awarded a special plaque for working for 50 years as a bus driver for New York Mills schools. The plaque now hangs in his home office north of NY Mills. Connie Vandermay/FOCUS

The wheels on his bus have gone 'round for 50 years

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news Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

John Reger has been awarded a special plaque for his 50 years of service to the New York Mills School District.

Teachers and staff presented the long-time bus driver with the award during a recent staff recognition day, giving him a standing ovation.

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"I have a great supervisor," Reger told the teachers, referring to Bob Theisen, who has been Reger's supervisor for the last 25 years.

In a follow-up interview, Reger shared some of his memories of driving bus.

He said a lot of things have changed since his first route - Bluffton run. For example, a state law now says a garbage can in the back of the bus blocks the evacuation door and is not safe. So now kids throw garbage on the floor.

But, "I would rather pick it up off the floor than between the seat and the wall," said Reger, which is his pet peeve.

Recently, after pulling into the bus garage one morning, Reger was walking through his bus, checking on things, when he noticed a backpack tucked up under the back seat. When he went to pull it out, he found a child hiding.

"I told him he had to go to school," Reger said with a laugh.

Reger drives one of the longer routes now, up through "Amish Country," putting on more than 90 miles a day.

"I look forward to summer vacation, because I get to sleep in," Reger said.

During the school year he gets up at 5 a.m. in order to start picking kids up by 7 a.m. to get them to school in time.

In his off time, Reger and his wife Kay, who retired five years ago after 30 years of driving a bus, operate a hobby farm north of NY Mills.

But he has no plans to retire yet, preferring to take things, "a year at a time."

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