When a young strapping Conway Payne began work for the transportation department at Westmoreland County Public Schools in 1979, the 18-year-old youth could purchase gas for 79 cents a gallon. President Carter was in the news when a wild rabbit chased his boat while fishing and the Viet Nam war toiled on. The average cost of monthly rent was $280 and a new Toyota Corolla could be purchased for $3,698 and Conway Payne made a decision to start work at Westmoreland County Public Schools, and who knew he would stay on for 40 years.
Conway faced the choice many young people do when they graduate from a rural town: stay or leave for a big city. He decided that he would stay where he had grown up and care for his Mom. That decision has boded well for Westmoreland County Public Schools. Now going into his 41st year working in transportation, Conway has worked his way up to Fleet Manager and Assistant to the Transportation Manager. In his long career, he has been a mechanic, CDL trainer, and VA state inspector.
Conway is a product of a “Job Shop” program. Popular during its time, “Job Shops” offered local teenagers the opportunity to work and learn at local businesses. Equivalent to a paid internship, Conway did custodial work during his 11th and 12th grade years. He learned about the value of a job and how to conduct himself as an employee. In 1979, the “Job Shop” ended and Conway looked at opportunities at Westmoreland County Public Schools. While waiting for an opening, he worked very briefly for a local nursery and then got a call to come and be a mechanic’s helper. His first tasks were washing school buses. When he finished those tasks he hung around the mechanic garage. One day, James Thompson, his immediate supervisor, saw his interest and the next thing Conway knew, he was moved up to assisting with brake work and other tasks. He received his CDL license in 1980 and started to drive school buses and drove the sports equipment truck to games.
For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 9/4/19
Conway Payne has been working with the Westmoreland
County Public School system for over 4 decades.