Steve Yorks, executive director of the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority, has announced that four new cutaway buses are ready to hit the streets.
The buses were purchased through a Michigan Department of Transportation grant. Once delivered a month ago, the four buses were sent to Mendon, where the SJCTA’s covered bridge logo and the agency’s telephone number were inscribed onto their exteriors. The buses will replace four vehicles that date to 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Yorks said the addition of the four new buses and elimination of its four oldest vehicles will see the agency maintain a 19-vehicle fleet.
Yorks said the agency is trying to maintain a high profile around the county in advance of an August millage request, which will ask St. Joseph County voters to renew 0.33 mills for basic operations.
State Rep. Tonya Schuitmaker and Sen. Tom George are asking local community organizations and businesses to participate as event sponsors and exhibitors in the fifth annual Kalamazoo area Senior and Veteran Expo.
The event, hosted by state Rep. Tonya Schuitmaker, Sen. Tom George and the Mattawan Lions Club, takes place on Monday, April 19th, at the Antwerp Township Activity Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“This is a great opportunity for local groups and businesses to showcase their organization and for seniors and veterans to learn more about what our community has to offer,” said Schuitmaker, of Lawton. “This has always been a popular event in the past but we are hoping to even greater participation and more than 100 exhibitors this year.”
Schuitmaker said exhibitor tables and sponsorships are a perfect marketing opportunity for local businesses. The expo will include health screenings by Bronson Lakeview Hospital, including free cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar tests as well as vision screenings.
Military memorabilia will also be on display.
Admission is free and transportation will be provided for seniors and veterans to attend the event.
For more information, visit www.seniorandveteranexpo.com or call toll free 1-800-679-7365.
Volunteers play a key role in providing the services offered by the St. Joseph County Commission on Aging (COA).
That fact was underscored during the March meeting of the COA Board as Activities Coordinator Renee Welch shared a handout summarizing “Volunteer Hours from April 2009 to March 2010.”
The report illustrated the variety of ways that volunteers assist with COA operations and showed a grand total of 7,885 hours by 185 volunteers.
According to COA Executive Director Lynn Coursey, that volume of volunteer efforts is equivalent to around 3.75 fulltime employees – non-benefited.
Welch said volunteer hours are calculated at this time of the year, rather than at the end of the fiscal year, because April is Volunteer Recognition Month and the COA is gearing up for its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on Wednesday, April 21st.
Welch said the event will be staged at the Three Rivers Community Center from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and feature entertainment by “GO 4 IT,” a barbershop quartet.
Reservations are requested and should be made by April 12th by calling 1-800-641-9899 or (269) 279-8083.
Federal Recovery Act funding continues to flow to Michigan, this time as a $524,000 Flex Funds Grant to small transit agencies in 13 counties including St. Joseph County.
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the grant will enable bus agencies to purchase items needed to provide services and keep operations running efficiently. Purchases will include maintenance equipment, computers, vehicles, tires, bike racks and surveillance equipment and more. This round of federal funding represents another opportunity to upgrade the overall condition of the rural transit fleet.
The Flex Funds Grant includes a total of $110,121 for the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority (SJCTA). Here are the projects and associated costs included in the funding for the SJCTA:
• Support Vehicle – $23,156
• Upgrade Phone System – $25,000
• Computer Replacement – $1,200
• Maintenance Equipment – $9,569
• Facility Renovation – $51,196.
The projects were selected at the local level, involving road, transit and local governments. The funding grants required no match from the local system or from the state of Michigan.
To view details about the Flex Funds Grant of 14 projects in 13 counties that was approved by the Federal Transit Administration, plus the project cost, click here.
Earlier this month, MDOT announced $12 million-plus in Phase 2 of Recovery Act funding in a two-part distribution of approximately $25 million to benefit Michigan’s rural and small city bus passengers. That round included $56,715 for the SJCTA.
The St. Joseph County Transportation Authority (SJCTA) has announced that a few changes will be made to its Three Rivers Circle Line schedule starting on March 1st.
The Circle Line is and will continue to be a “Flex” route meaning that, even though there are designated bus stops throughout the city, residents can call ahead for a pick up at or near their home when the bus is scheduled to be in that area.
In a news release announcing the changes, the SJCTA said, “We have seen our number of riders grow since we began here in Three Rivers in December 2008 and, because of the overwhelming response to this service, we have had to make some modifications to continue to be a success by keeping the Circle Line route an hour and staying on time.”
The designated stops that will be eliminated from the original schedule are Save a Lot, Three Rivers rural Health Clinic/Three Rivers High School, First Presbyterian Church and Walgreens. The bus can still be called to “flex” to each of these previous stops, but requires a rider to call ahead to request the pick-up. As always, when a rider is picked up, they can also request a “flex” drop off that is near the designated circle route even if it isn’t a designated stop.
The SJCTA said, “Please call if you have any questions regarding the Circle Line routes or our Curb to Curb service. We continue to strive to meet the transportation needs of the residents of St. Joseph County. Thank you for your continued trust and support in the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority.”
When the changes take place on March 1st, the Three Rivers Circle Line will utilize these stops:
• Three Rivers Library (front)
• Michigan Works! (Enterprise Drive)
• Edgewater Apartments (Sixth Street)
• Riverside Townhouses (Lockport Drive)
• Portage River Parking Plaza (Downtown stop)
• Walmart (Millard)
• Meijer (US-131)
• Three Rivers Health complex (Hospital)
The Three Rivers Circle Line operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. – no holidays. The last drop is between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. The cost is $1 per destination.
If you have any questions regarding the new Three Rivers Circle Line schedule or Curb to Curb service, call the SJCTA office at (269) 273-7808 or the toll free number, 1-800-964-5700.
The St. Joseph County Commission on Aging (COA) is adding two new programs to the array of services it offers to senior citizens.
In action during its February meeting on Wednesday (February 17th), the COA Board voted to enter into an agreement with the Area Agency on Aging for additional grant dollars to implement Personal Action Toward Health (PATH), a chronic disease self-management program designed to help adults learn to better manage their chronic conditions.
Through PATH, trained leaders meet with their groups for two-and-a-half hours each week for six consecutive weeks. The program, developed at Stanford University, does not replace traditional patient education with the doctor or health profession, but is complementary to and reinforces such education.
According to COA Executive Director Lynn Coursey, the grant is for $26,680 over a two-year period to serve a minimum of 33 clients.
The COA Board also voted to enter into an agreement with Veterans Home Care of Michigan, LLC to participate in a program that provides in-home services to veterans and their spouses.
In other business, the board authorized the expenditure of up to $45,000 from the COA’s contingency fund to purchase a new, six-passenger van, outfitted to accommodate wheel-chairs. The van will replace a medical escort vehicle that was declared a total loss after it was struck by another vehicle that failed to make a complete stop. Coursey indicated that loss of the van has created inefficiency in the transportation services offered by the COA. Use of the agency’s funds is a way to expedite replacement of the vehicle which otherwise might take nearly a year to accomplish.