Older Americans Center ride service still available


JASPER — The Older Americans Center provides many services to those 55 and older in the county, one of which is affordable transportation for those who need it.

Since 2008, Jasper has partnered with Ride Solution, a local service that provides rides in wheelchair-accessible vans in and around the county. Though the service is mostly used to drive older residents to things such as medical appointments, it’s also used by some parents to get their kids to school and by groups such as local youth camps.

OAC Director Carie Dick said at a Tuesday Jasper Board of Public Works and Safety meeting that the service was down 691 riders in 2020, likely due to fewer people traveling during COVID-19 lockdowns. However, the vans still managed to run every day they were scheduled.

The service, which is run mostly by two drivers, transported 181 riders in February. Dick said this number is slightly lower than usual, but on a grand scale, the demand for the service has significantly increased throughout the years.

Dick said the drivers were provided PPE and said they never felt unsafe driving people, even during the height of the pandemic. One van, provided by the Jasper Park Department, can be used for purposes other than the ride service, as well.

The vans are clean, smoke-free and have a lift for those who need it. The drivers are specially trained, according to information about the Older Americans Center on the City of Jasper website.

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Children under 6 can ride for free, and children ages 7-12 can ride for $1 with a paid adult. According to the City of Jasper website, rides within town are $3 each way — although Dick said Ride Solution lowered the cost to $2 due to the pandemic — rides within the county are $5 each way and rides from one county to another are $7 each way.

Dick said the drivers try to take appointments made the same day but sometimes have trouble during busy days.

“If they can squeeze you in, they definitely will,” she said.

Rides can be scheduled by calling 812-254-3225 or 1-877-369-8899 (toll free).

The public works board also:

• Approved the reservation of the lawn at Jackson Street and Third Avenue, north of the train depot, for the annual farmers market. The market will run Saturdays from May 29 through Oct. 9 from 8 a.m. to noon.

• Denied a request for an encroachment agreement for a local resident who built a fence on a utility and drainage easement. Mayor Dean Vonderheide said the board has always held residents very accountable in the past, at times even requiring people to move their houses, so it wants to continue to hold everyone to the same standard.

• Heard from Jasper Community Arts Director Kyle Rupert that the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center is still running smoothly. Rupert said that about 1,000 people visited the arts section in February, which is significantly higher than the number of people the Jasper Arts Center would have seen at the old exhibit location.

• Approved the Jasper Police Department to junk several unused items.

• Heard from JPD and the Jasper Fire Department that both received grant money from R. Pete and Linda Sermersheim that can be used by the City of Jasper for any purpose.

• Approved the hiring of American Test Center to conduct annual tests on trucks for the fire department.

• Approved several sidewalk repairs throughout the town that will be paid half by the city and half by the owner of the properties.

• Heard from Street Commissioner Jeff Theising that annual pavement inspections will begin Wednesday.

• Acknowledged Jasper’s participation in the Census 2020 community partnership and engagement program with the help of the complete count committee.

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