by Marissa Lorenz
The West Grand School District hosted a community send-off for long-time Director of Transportation James
Gregory with a final bus tour of Kremmling on Thursday, April 7.
Gregory first came to Kremmling with his wife, Kathryn, and their two oldest children in early 2000. They had been living in Idaho where they were working opposite shifts and finding it hard to make time for each other and as a family. He describes the move to be closer to Kathryn’s parents as “an opportunity to better ourselves and better our family.”
Taking his first local job at L.G. Everist, Gregory would
find himself hired as a mechanic and driver by the West Grand School District in September of that year, working under then-Transportation Director Joe DeBell.
“I wanted to continue driving and to gain skills and training in medium-load transportation,” he explains. “But it also allowed me to be around my kids, making up for some lost time due to our work situations when they were little.”
The Gregorys would end up staying in the District, raising their two oldest sons and two more children in Kremmling, and watching the first three graduate from West Grand High School.
Returning again and again to the theme of family, Gregory speaks proudly of each of their children, describing how lucky they were to have great teachers and a great education in West Grand Schools and how well they’re doing now.
He tells of Kris, a trade school graduate, now stationed in the Army in Hawaii; Austin, an Army veteran, now working for Student Transportation of America in Montrose; Jessica, a student at Colorado School of Mines; and Eric, enjoying his freshman year at West Grand.
Gregory talks of the school family that he has fostered for the last 20 years, the last 10 as Director of Transportation.
“The most satisfying thing is seeing those kids’ faces every morning,” describes Gregory.
“You’re the first person they see in the morning when they’re off to school and the last person they see when they’re heading home.
“One of the coolest things is, I’m now hauling the kids of the kids I was hauling when I first got here. It’s neat to see how some are somewhat like their parents and some are totally different than their parents were as kids.”
And it is only family that could induce the Gregorys to leave Kremmling now, moving on to a “new chapter in life.”
As Kathryn experiences more challenges with living at high altitude, James, Kathryn, and Eric have decided to relocate to Hollister, Missouri, this time moving closer to James’ parents.
Thursday was Gregory’s last official day at West Grand Schools. While Kathryn and Eric will stay to see out Eric’s freshman year, James has already accepted a position as a delivery driver for Lowe’s Home Improvement in Missouri. It is unfortunately an opportunity that couldn’t be guaranteed in a couple of months’ time.
“I know that there’s going to be a hole left,” Gregory notes, “but sometimes you’ve just got to do what’s best for your family. And that’s what I’m doing now.
“I will miss being up here–I do love the mountains. We will miss the people of Kremmling. But most of all, I’ll miss the kids. I consider every student in the district to be one of my kids. That’s the way I drive. That’s the way I communicate with them. That’s the
way I joke with them … I support them 100 percent. And when they do something boneheaded, I talk to them about their choices.”
Gregory will certainly be missed by the School District.
“When you think about someone who has put his heart and soul into everything he has done and has done it all for the love of West Grand kids, you have to think of James Gregory,” stated District Superintendent Dr. Darrin Peppard about Gregory’s departure. “I am so honored and grateful to have had the time with James to build an amazing relationship and friendship. I wish him the best of luck and will really miss him.”
Gregory is the only certified bus mechanic currently employed by the District, but he has made arrangements with East Grand Schools to provide any needed maintenance and care of District vehicles until the end of the school year or a new mechanic is hired.
Send-off parade for James, April 8
On Thursday, April 8 at 3 p.m., a parade for James Gregory will take place. It will begin at the transportation district behind the high school. It will then proceed to the front of the high school, move to the front of the K-8 building, then continue along Highway 40/Main Street west to the Kremmling Mercantile.
It will turn around in the Mercantile parking lot and then head east along Highway 40/Main Street, returning to the transportation district.