Students making their way to school in Sisters have had a number of smoky mornings lately. Firefighters there are continuing to battle the Pole Creek Fire just outside of town. But once the students get to school, they are breathing a bit easier thanks to the efforts of some local business owners.
When the fire first started, at least a few students were no doubt disappointed to hear that classes would not be cancelled. And though administrators monitored air quality inside the schools, there wasn’t much they could do about it.
Leland Bliss , Director of Operations for the Sisters School District said, “When people would start opening and closing the doors later in the day, the building would start to get some smoke in it. So you could see a light haze in the buildings.”
Julie and Benny Benson heard the same thing from their school-aged daughter. Both are engineers. Together they run the firm ENERGY-neering Solutions.
Julie Benson got in touch with Leland Bliss. Eventually the couple committed to buy $10,000 worth of hospital-grade air filters for the AC units at all three district schools.
Benny Benson says he tracked down suppliers that had all the right size filters.
“And then it became a shipping thing. ‘Well, we can’t get it there for 10 days or 20 days’ So we said ‘Why don’t we just send a truck out or look to one of our own shippers there.’ “
Benson eventually found a vendor in Nebraska that was able to expedite the order.
The Bensons now want to keep the project going with a fund they’re calling “Clean Air for Kids.”
Benny Benson says money donated to the fund would help the school district cover replacement filters during future fire seasons.
Meanwhile, school administrator Bliss says the filters are making the air in Sisters schools easier to breathe.