Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Money for school bus comes from Iraq

October 1, 2009


Money for school bus comes from Iraq

A father working in Iraq stepped up to do what Lawrence schools couldn't: Pay to bus students to school. Enlarge video

Even from his contracting job in Iraq, Lee Hamlet couldn’t bear the problems his daughter and other Quail Run School students faced trying to get to school this year.

Budget cuts forced the Lawrence school district to cease bus service this year for students who live within 2.5 miles of their school, and parents at some schools have paid school bus contractor First Student to keep certain routes running.

When several parents in the northwestern Lawrence neighborhood were unable to put funds together for their own bus, Hamlet — from his post in Basra — agreed to put down $1,750 for a First Student bus with plans to put down more money later for the second semester.

“It was astonishing,” said Julie Heatwole, a Quail Run school counselor. “Here is a gentleman serving our country far away, and he wants to do this not only for his daughter but also for his neighborhood community.”

Beginning this morning, the new bus route will pick up 15 students who live in the area near Sixth and Eldridge streets.

Hamlet’s wife, Susan Hamlet, said some families have run into transportation issues during the initial weeks of school without the bus.

She said because of medical reasons, she has been unable to drive her second-grade daughter, Freedom Coffey-Hamlet, to school.

Other parents have also had to find rides for their children because they don’t have their own vehicles. From Sixth and Eldridge streets, it’s about 1.6 miles to Quail Run, 1130 Inverness Drive.

Jaime Carter, who has three children at the school, said they would also have to cross busy Sixth Street if they walked.

“I’m grateful that that man did that,” Carter said.

Heatwole said many students have been riding bicycles or walking, which will not be an option during inclement weather.

Truancy and tardiness have also been a concern for the school this year as some parents have to depend on unreliable modes of transportation, she said.

“This way there will be consistency. It will be safe. They will be able to have transportation on a daily basis,” she said.

Susan Hamlet said her husband has worked two years and three months as a contractor in Iraq.

“He felt like it was the right thing to do. He thought about all of the things he could do for his family,” she said.


hail2oldku 8 years, 7 months ago

Not to nit-pick since this gentleman is picking up the bill for people that otherwise would have to continue to work something out, but Ms. Heatwole's comment is slightly incorrect. If Mr. Hamlet is working as a contractor in Iraq, he is not really serving his country.

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago

But at least we got ourselves two brand spankin' new multi-million dollar football fields (instead of just one)!

hail2oldku 8 years, 7 months ago

That dead horse ain't gonna move any further Prune.

Not to mention - different fund pools.

workinghard 8 years, 7 months ago

Won't it be nice if the parents helped pay for the next semester?

KansasVoter 8 years, 7 months ago

Military contractors definitely aren't serving our country in Iraq. It's nice that this guy donated money to his daughter's school, but he can afford to with all of the money that contractors are taking from our country. War profiteers is all they are.

puddleglum 8 years, 7 months ago

yeah, we don't need school buses, we just need football fields....what's next? a new basketball arena?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't know this guy, and for all I know, he's a good man just taking the best job that was available to him.

But generally speaking, given all the $billions that have been wasted on this war, especially to companies like Halliburton and Blackwater, instead of on our schools, a little bit trickling back like this isn't even a drop in the bucket.

lhamlet 8 years, 7 months ago

to the people who think MR Hamlet is not serving his country beadvised he is prior service holds a secret clearence is COUNTER I.E.D ( roadside bombs ) we get mortar attacks no less than once a week were called patriots check your history or if you have the Nerve come join me the tents and bottle showers are great signed MR HAMLET

Take_a_letter_Maria 8 years, 7 months ago

"lhamlet (Anonymous) says… to the people who think MR Hamlet is not serving his country beadvised he is prior service holds a secret clearence is counter i.e.d ( roadside bombs ) we get mortar attacks no less than once a week were called patriots check your history or if you have the Nerve come join me the tents and bottle showers are great signed mr hamlet"

Talking in third person Lee, or is this just a poser?

I'm well past the age of the tents and bottle showers, and I'll thank you for your prior service if I'm reading your message correctly.

However, my oldest just returned from running supplies out of Kuwait a couple of months ago and he indicated that his unit's experience with outside contractors was not a good one. There were two particular instances where he blamed the contractor for almost costing his unit a few men and a couple of trucks. If what he is wiling to share about his experiences over there is anything close to accurate, then not many within the military have much good to say about ocs. Sorry if it offends you, but I'm gonna have to go with what he said as opposed to someone that is doing the work to collect the paycheck.

lhamlet 8 years, 7 months ago

well it is america so have your say but if you were here to see for your self YOU would know that there are many jobs that we do and the combat engineers route clearence and E.O.D units know my rep as well as my job so speaking from first hand knowledge and living with my unit in a tent on the iran border I stand by what i Say and if you want to make your all important self useful donate to the bus so our children back home can make it to school MR LEE HAMLET a lbasrah Iraq

lhamlet 8 years, 7 months ago

Ps When was the last time you saw what a 1000 lb i.e.d does to a mil vehicle and those in it.. or got so low to the ground you hoped the 155 mike mike does 'nt get you if your info is second hand it is just that second hand nuff said point was helping AMERICAN CHILDREN MR LEE HAMLET

Take_a_letter_Maria 8 years, 7 months ago

"lhamlet (Anonymous) says… to the people who think MR Hamlet is not serving his country beadvised he is prior service holds a secret clearence..."

"the combat engineers route clearence and E.O.D units know my rep as well..."

Who is trying " to make your all important self"?

I've already explained my position based on information given to me by someone I know and who's information I trust. While I haven't had my own @ss in the sand, I did see my only child deploy twice to the region. The second time, where he had many more dealings with ocs, he came back very disillusioned. Thank whatever higher power you believe in that neither time did his unit lose a single person.

As I said earlier, I thank you for your prior service. Even though I don't have a kid in school any more, I thank you on behalf of those people that you are providing transportation to with your donation. Forgive me however if I pass on thanking someone, who is arrogant enough to write in the third person, for doing the job he chose to do regardless of the danger he may be putting himself in.

Oh and, since I don't have kids in school any longer, but I do pay taxes to USD497, I will pass on providing additional funds the bus.

KansasVoter 8 years, 7 months ago

lhamlet (Anonymous) says… "to the people who think MR Hamlet is not serving his country beadvised he is prior service holds a secret clearence is counter i.e.d ( roadside bombs ) we get mortar attacks no less than once a week"

B.F.D. Are you little lee hamlet, or do you just happen to have the same name? Either way, if you want to serve your country stay in the military. All you are now is a filthy mercenary and war profiteer. And if you are little lee, you definitely need to work on your writing skills, because you come across like an idiot.

================ Boris (Anonymous) says… "Always nice to see rear ends like Kansasvoter show their true selves! The contractors are doing necessary jobs that there simply aren't enough soldiers to do."

Oh, please. If there aren't enough soldiers then george w. bush shouldn't have started an unnecessary "war" of choice. There's no reason to be in Iraq except to profit from the "war." If there's not enough soldiers, start a draft, because resorting to mercenaries is proof that your "war" is not worth fighting.

Brandon Devlin 8 years, 7 months ago

"War profiteers?" Really? That's all I am? Ask my wife if I'm serving my country or not, and whether wearing a shirt with my company's name on it makes a difference in the long run. Ask my kids if I'm serving my country while I leave them back here in Larryville for extended periods of time, and whether the fact that daddy works for a private company makes any real difference to them. Ask any of the military that I work with and for everyday if I'm serving my country, or just making a buck off of their backs.

What I do is earn a living to support my family. . .I didn't realize that there was something inherently "bad" about that. What I do know, for a fact, is that I do work that the military doesn't have an MOS for, and couldn't be realistically done in a timely matter by them. (And did it before a war, that I don't necessarily agree with, started.) I stand shoulder to shoulder with my military brethren everyday, go to the same places they do, and follow their same code of conduct. Are there some "less than desirable" companies out there making money off of the government? Sure: but not knowing who Mr. Hamlet works for, or myself for that matter, I'd thank you for not lumping us in with that same ilk.

ohgeeze 8 years, 7 months ago

It is interesting that the parents from Schwegler could pull together for a bus and not the parents from Quail Run...if I'm not mistaken, Schwegler is of a much lower SES...

Way to go Schwegler parents for their awesome support

mapletree 8 years, 7 months ago

I think it is sad and despicable that instead of focusing on this man's generosity, everyone is instead focused on where his paycheck comes from.

Do you stop to think that perhaps people will be less likely to donate money and do other good deeds in the future, for fear that they will only be trashed publicly by others in their community?

Thank you, Mr. Hamlet, for providing a school bus for these children. Please don't let the nastiness of a few people in this community keep you from doing good things in the future.

lhamlet 8 years, 7 months ago

Well kansas voter i wonder what you do to serve your country besides sit on you hind end and type B,S as for myself i prefer to do something about what is happening in the world rather than TALK about it and slam those who speak truth you sound like the idiot ! and if little lee hamlet from old LHS is who you are refering to yep it is me & i think you will find im more than you can handle ! now go get on the truck comrad since you have no spine of your own MR LEE HAMLET

mom_of_three 8 years, 7 months ago

mapletree, I think what people have a problem with is the wording in the article. "serving his country" makes him sound like he is military, when in fact, he is not. He is a contractor. And because contractors have developed a bad reputation, bloggers/posters are using those generalizations to comment on for this article.

It was nice he was able to do it, as others of us are not able to spend that kind of dough. Helps out the families, good karma for him.

twinetowngirl 8 years, 7 months ago

Geez amaze me..and not in a good way.

We are not in that school, but thank you Mr. Hamlet for your kind generosity to help our children and helping them have a safe trip to school!

May GOD keep you safe!!

InspectorJo 8 years, 7 months ago


What a wonderful, thoughtful, unselfish thing for you to do for your community. You are appreciated! You are setting a great example for our young ones. Thank YOU!

Be Safe.

nml 8 years, 7 months ago

Lee, What you did was awesome! F the haters.

firemedic301 8 years, 7 months ago

Lee, don't let the tofu eating tree huggers get you down. What you did for your daughter and classmates is top notch. I was a contract firefighter in north central Iraq and I've had some of the same comments directed towards me. Again good job on getting the bus, and keep your A** down!

Lori Nation 8 years, 7 months ago

You all should be proud of him if we can't rely on our school district it's people like him who are helping!! Good job.

Terri Ferguson 8 years, 7 months ago

I happen to know Lee personally, and am proud to call him my friend! Pat and i are so proud of you Lee! You are a shinning star in a world where the news isnt always as uplifting as you helped make this story. I know that to your daughter and her classmates you are a class A hero! Keep up the good work, and come home safely to us soon! Love you!

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 7 months ago

My grandkids don't go to that school, but I am thankful to anyone looking out for our kids, regardless to where his paycheck come from. His friends and family should be proud!!

hail2oldku 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow, didn't mean to get it started off like that, I only meant that Lee was over there by choice not because he was required to be there because he is serving in the military, I will be quick to admit that his is a job that I wouldn't care to do, and in a location I wouldn't want to visit.

"gop (Anonymous) says… Oh, and guess what those soldiers serving in Iraq are also earning a hefty paycheck, everyone over there is being paid, not just the contractors."

Sorry gop, but the first part of your statement is completely overshadowed by the ignorance of this sentence. Yes, the soldiers are being paid better than if they were not deployed, but the rate of pay and most everything else related does not compare.

svenway_park 8 years, 7 months ago

Marion, the injection of your personal canard into this thread is transparently self-serving and is an insult to this man's generosity. But typical. Shame on you.

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