WALKER -- The Cass County Senior Transportation Program will have no significant changes when it shifts to Health, Human and Veterans Services from the Council on Aging Jan. 1, HHVS Director Dorothy Opheim and the county board have pledged.
The board again endorsed the shift Tuesday without taking another formal vote. The change includes eliminating 2004 county funding for the Council on Aging's program coordinator, effectively eliminating the position.
More than 100 Walker, Cass Lake, Hackensack and Longville area residents signed petitions calling for the board to continue the transportation program under the Council on Aging and to continue funding the director.
Commissioner Jim Dowson sent a Dec. 11 letter to Mary Louise Isakson of Walker, who has been active in the volunteer driver program, pledging the program under Health, Human and Veterans Services will continue to serve the needs of elderly people who need transportation to medical appointments.
"We're going to do the job," Board Chair Jim Demgen told Transportation Advisory Board Chair Pat Butler of Longville Tuesday.
Opheim reported she has named Kim Minton, HHVS office services supervisor, as the contact person for people wishing to volunteer as drivers or to sign up for senior transportation services. Minton can be reached by phone at (218) 547-1340.
Faye Dudley and Lynette Emery, who oversee the veterans transportation program, also will approve senior transportation drivers' vouchers. Dudley will work to recruit more senior transportation drivers.
Fiscal Agent Melanie Wolfe and the HHVS accounting staff will be responsible for auditing all vouchers and making payments to drivers. They also will provide driver/mileage reports to the board.
Wolfe has verified insurance coverage under the county's Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust insurance program, Opheim said.
She said her staff plans to work to promote and maximize donations from riders and to increase the claims for Medical Assistance for those who qualify. Opheim said she hopes to coordinate this program with similar services being offered by Faith in Action and Tribal Transportation.
Still undecided is whether the Senior Review, a senior information publication sent to riders in the past, will continue to be published when the Council on Aging senior coordinator position is eliminated, Opheim said.
The Senior Transportation Advisory Board will continue to advise Health, Human and Veterans Services on program needs as it has the Council on Aging in the past, Opheim said.
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