Group applies for mass transit grant

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 1, 2000

Lawrence County Board of MRDD will seek $75,000 in state money to write a countywide public transportation plan.

Friday, September 01, 2000

Lawrence County Board of MRDD will seek $75,000 in state money to write a countywide public transportation plan.

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"We don’t have specifics yet; that’s why we’re seeking a grant for planning purposes," MRDD superintendent Jimmie Thacker said at Thursday’s county commissioners’ meeting.

If approved, the Ohio Department of Transportation grant will join with MRDD’s $50,000 local match to hire two planners and to conduct surveys of the county’s transportation needs, Thacker said.

Once the plan is together, then the county will have a transportation goal to work toward, he said.

That goal is a mass transit system – not only for MRDD’s clients but also for every individual in the county, Thacker said.

"We know it can work and we know it’s needed in this county."

Commissioners agreed, adding that senior citizens without cars, single moms living on fixed incomes, students who need a way to school or anyone with a transportation need could be served.

The planning grant is the place to start, commissioner George Patterson said.

"We’ve got people in this county who can’t get anywhere," he said.

Providing public transportation to senior citizens, the general public and the handicapped all at one time will save tax dollars and meet a need, he said.

Commission president Bruce Trent said he remembers buses from Huntington, W.Va., that used to travel into Lawrence County’s eastern end.

It was used by many to travel to jobs, schools, doctors and other places, Trent said.

"It sounds like they have a limited budget right now but it would be a well-needed service to individuals with limited transportation opportunities," he said.

Commissioners approved a measure permitting the MRDD board to file the transportation grant on behalf of the county.

MRDD already has two buses, plans to buy a third in the spring and one modified van, although they can only be used to transport MRDD clients during the school year, according to state law, Thacker said.

The board is paying a tremendous amount to move its consumers to and from the workplace, he said.

"We want this to evolve into a mass transit system," he said.

In other action Thursday, commissioners:

– Set next week’s meeting for Thursday, following a noon ribboncutting ceremony for the new 4-H food booth at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

The meeting should start about 12:30 p.m., where commissioners likely will discuss a property dispute, Trent said.

A resident on Ohio 7 complained at Thursday’s meeting about a neighboring property owner piling filler material next to his property. Commissioners are organizing a meeting with property owners, the developer, county engineer’s office, township trustees and other officials, Trent said.