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Pettisville Schools Reimbursed For Problems Caused By Bad Fuel

Pettisville school officials received a check for $1,566 as a partial reimbursement for trouble resulting from bad diesel fuel.

The issue was discussed with the school board at its Monday, Feb. 11 meeting.

Diesel fuel, used to power school buses, will crystalize, or gel, at low temperatures. To prevent the problem, additives are mixed with diesel.

Steve Switzer, superintendent, said one day the buses would start, but they only ran for a short time before the gelled fuel would not flow.

“We have (engine) block heaters to help with starting, but the fuel in the tanks had gelled,” he said.

The buses were not damaged. “They just would not run,” he said.

“Nothing warmer weather would not solve.”


“There were two days we did not have enough buses to safely operate school. We cancelled on Tuesday, Jan. 22, due to the buses not running.

“We would have cancelled on Friday, Feb. 1, due to buses not running, but cancelled due to weather. Most if not all of the schools in the area were closed on that day,” he said.

District personnel tried adding diesel fuel treatment chemicals to the fuel tanks, “but since we did not know how much had been added earlier, we did not have any measure to determine how much was needed to be added to be effective.”

Pettisville Grain stores district fuel for the school in its tanks. The company buys fuel in bulk quantities.

Switzer said a sample of the gelled fuel was taken to Pettisville Grain, “and they determined it had not been properly treated.”

He told the board the problem occurred at the refinery.

Pettisville Grain arranged for Slattery Oil Company, Hicksville, to reimburse the district for the cost of service calls and efforts to correct the problem.

The Hicksville distributor sent a check for $1,566, which represented partial reimbursement.

Some heavy-duty diesel trucks have fuel heaters. The buses do not, Switzer said, because “fuel gelling has never been a problem.”

He added of the eight diesel powered buses in the district, only three would run in the colder weather.

Those three were older buses.


In another matter, Switzer told the board he had been in communications with Viastat, a Carlsbad, Calif.,- based company that provides high-speed satellite broadband services and secure networking systems.

The company wants to lease a 500 square-foot space, 20×25 feet, either near the district wind turbine or beyond the centerfield fence of the varsity baseball field, near the Pettisville Park.

There would be several transformer-style metal cabinets and a satellite dish in the area.

“If we reach agreement, we would enter into a lease agreement for seven threeyear terms,” Switzer said.

“The approximate lease fee would be $500 per month for the first three years, with an escalator clause that would increase the amount of the lease by 3% every three years.”

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