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Commissioners hear why main bus line is not running

Kenney votes against resident furnishings because of artwork cost

June 23, 2011
OSSIPEE— Clocks and lamps for the nursing home residents' rooms will have to wait for another vote as the two county commissioners at the June 15 meeting couldn't agree on purchasing them.

County nursing home administrator Sandra McKenzie felt that she and her staff could get better pricing on these items purchasing them directly instead of through the new nursing home's design team. She came to the June 15 meeting and recommended spending $8,749.39 to purchase 132 wall clocks and 13 larger wall clocks plus lamps for all resident rooms, a few easels and bulletin boards, a savings of about $500.

Commissioner Dorothy Solomon voted in favor of the purchase while Commissioner Asha Kenney voted against it. Kenney was quick to chastise an audience member later in the meeting when he questioned her decision. Kenney said that she voted against the accessories for resident rooms not because she disagreed with buying them but because the commission had voted previously, in her opinion, to spend too much money on artwork.

"If you have other reasons that you are against it, great, I'd like to hear them but to just say you don't want to spend $8,700 because we spent too much money on art strikes me as inadequate," said Henry Spencer.

"…That's fine Mr. Spencer. I am the elected official here and no one is going to tell me how to do my job. That was my answer," said Kenney.

The purchase is on hold for now, awaiting the return of Commissioner David Sorensen who is on vacation. The issue was expected to be brought up at the June 22 meeting, after press deadline.

Carroll County Transit

In response to questions about the status of the bus service in Carroll County and to avoid any hearsay, Tri-County Community Action Program's Beverly Raymond and Carroll County Transit's Ted Laliberte and Jack Rhodes came to the commissioner's meeting.

Concerns include why one of the program's three demand-response busses have been taken out of service and why the main public bus system that the demand busses are supposed to feed into is not up and running yet.

Raymond explained that Tri-County Community Action (CAP) that oversees administration of the bus service in Coös and Grafton counties and newly-established service in Carroll County originally put out a proposal to Community Transportation Association of America to determine the transportation service plan that would best meet the needs of Carroll County residents. The result? A system that includes three demand response vehicles that take passengers from their home to doctor's appointments, shopping, work, etc. within their zone and a main line commuter route. Those passengers that wanted to go from one end of the county to the other, for example, would be picked up by a demand response or find another ride to a designated bus stop and ride the larger bus. The demand response busses, also known as The Blue Loon, have been up and running for months with 2,713 passenger rides in the past six months. The system, Raymond said, is constantly being reviewed and adjusted as necessary including what fees to charge and what areas have a great need. During their review they have determined that Effingham, originally slated for minimal service, has a much greater need than originally thought.

The main public busses are sitting and waiting to be lettered and for the appeal of a local bus company to be fully addressed. Raymond said the federal funding program requires any local transportation company that this federally funded program might compete with must be given the opportunity to submit a bid. So the question to be resolved is whether or not Entertainment Tours, the only service that bid on the project of running the public bus system, can agree to the terms of the plan.

Because the main public line is not up and running yet, the Blue Loon busses are making longer trips and this has increased the overall cost of the program, causing CAP to cut one of the busses to save money. The hope is, said Raymond, until the main line is fully up and running, volunteer drivers will help offset the trips that third bus was doing.

According to Rhodes, the Transit committee is frustrated because of the Department of Transportation's lack of decision to "give us the go-ahead to operate the fixed system." He said the complete system should have been up and running in July 2010 and hinted that unnecessary hold ups on the federal and state level have delayed the service. "We as committee feel that had DOT thought more about the demand that it go out to bid – only because of protest by one provider who claimed he had bus service in the area but who only has charters from Massachusetts to the area and the trolley for tourists…this could have been resolved many, many months ago," said Rhodes.

Funding for the transportation system, said Raymond, is 80 percent federal funds that must be matched with 20 percent derived from town, county and fundraising support.

Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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