Public transportation, ASD assistance topics of town hall meeting

ABERDEEN – Possible public transportation for the elderly and disabled was put out on the table during the Feb. 27 retiree town hall meeting. The system would provide for a means for senior citizens to have a ride for grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments and pharmacy visits.
“Disabled and elderly people want to do as much as we do and we are trying to integrate them,” said Wardell Andrews, compliance manager with Region III Mental Health Center.
Andrews said the non-profit organization he’s affiliated with, Climb Up, Inc., which operates under Region III, recently implemented a public transportation for the elderly in Tupelo contracted through U.S. Land Cruiser. With the Tupelo system, Andrews said U.S. Land Crusier would normally charge $12 for transportation, but the elderly are set up on a co-pay system, which enables them to ride for $6 with Climb Up, Inc. making up the difference through grants.
The program is part of the MAP-21 transportation bill passed by the U.S. Senate, providing for $1.5 billion for public transportation.
Retiree Frankie Provias suggested with a local transportation system, to enlist the services of the park and rec department’s vans or even approaching local churches about using vans.
“If you can come up with a plan, I can present it to my executive director [Robert Smith]. I want what’s best for Monroe County and so does he. He is a very kind-hearted in helping people with disabilities in getting transportation,” Andrews said.
After the meeting, Mayor Cecil Belle said the city is weighing options including applying for a Mississippi Department of Transportation grant, communicating with any interested churches if they qualify for a $500,000 insurance policy and also inquiring with U.S. Land Cruiser to provide the service. There are also business opportunities for individuals wanting to provide the service.
While Aberdeen is taking the lead in initiating the program, Andrews said he would like for the program to be countywide. Any other municipality interested can contact Andrews at 842-9217.
Aberdeen High School Air Force JROTC instructor Jeff “Cog” Coggin also took the floor at the town hall meeting to extend an invitation to retirees to help the Aberdeen School District by way of tutoring.
“It’s been a long slog and it will take a cultural mindset from the parents and citizens to get the district turned around. These kids have so much talent, but so many are missing the basics. That’s where you come in. We’re looking for the same level we look for in our substitutes to come spend a little time with these students to help them with the basics,” Coggin said.
Anyone interested in tutoring can visit the conservator’s office at Aberdeen High School so personnel can check educational backgrounds. The district hosts an afterschool tutoring program beginning at 3:30 each afternoon. Coggin also encouraged civic and church groups to host tutoring sessions for grades kindergarten through 12. Citizens are also encouraged to share time to help build character for ASD athletes.
He also asked everyone in attendance to spread the word of the JROTC program.
“These young cadets in uniform are our town’s future and we want to make it an elite academy of big thinkers. We’re opening the program up to students from throughout Monroe County,” Coggin said.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.