Bertie to receive transportation funds

Published 8:31 am Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AULANDER – The Bertie County Board of Commissioners on Monday evening gave its approval to the county’s application for Rural Operating Assistance Program (ROAP) funding after a public hearing was held during the Board’s regular meeting at the Aulander Community Center.

The programs which are included in ROAP are: 1) Elderly & Disabled Transportation Assistance which provides operating assistance for the public transportation of elderly and disabled citizens; 2) Employment Transportation Assistance Program providing operating assistance for the public transportation of persons with employment related transportation needs; and 3) the Rural General Public Program with assistance for the public transportation of persons living in non-urban areas of the county.

Funding for the program, instituted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation with state funds is open to all 100 counties in North Carolina and runs from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.

Bertie County has applied for a total of $125,801 in funds: $53,192 under Elderly & Disabled, $11,007 under Employment Transportation Assistance, and $61,602 for Rural General Public.

Prior to the Board opening up public comment, Bertie County Council on Aging director Venita Thompson described the county residents who would benefit from the program implementation.

“Each component provides different services,” Thompson said. “They provide (transportation for) medical, grocery shopping, help with job fairs and job interviews, group field trips, special events, transportation to work, pharmacy, etc; the three components combined take you to all those different places.

“In BertieCounty transportation has become a problem for a lot of people because we’re such a rural county,” she added. “We have people who pay people 25-to-30 dollars just to take them from Aulander to Windsor and bring them back home; so this program really helps them to be served without paying a lot of money.”

Thompson said the Rural General Public program is contracted thru the Choanoke Public Transportation Authority and there will be a small fee that she estimated would be about $4 per trip, one way, because of 10 percent matching funds.

“A lot of people depend on this program,” Thompson said. “Elderly and Disabled is for those that can’t get Medicaid or they’re over the income and fall through the cracks. This helps them receive that service where they may be below the level where they can’t afford to get someone and pay ($30).”

Thompson went on to add, “Employment Assistance is mostly for (clients) trying to get job training and it’s really been a great success for us.”

While the funding period began in July, Bertie County only received word of their grant approval by letter the last week in August.

Thompson answered a question from Commissioner Rick Harrell that the program is instituted on a yearly basis.

Following the public hearing, the Board unanimously approved the county’s application to the state Department of Transportation.