WOODSFIELD — Buckeye Hills Area Council officials are working to assess Monroe County’s transportation needs to help residents get the rides they need.
Council services will be available in the spring once the Monroe County Mobility Officer moves into its new location inside the former Safe Auto Building in Woodsfield which was purchased by the County Board of Commissioners of Monroe in June. Commissioners plan to use the facility as a community center that will offer many programs and activities for residents.
Melissa Zoller, transportation manager for Buckeye Hills, said the organization is working to let the public know it is available to help residents connect to public transportation options.
“We can connect them. They may call and say, “I have a doctor’s appointment coming up, but I don’t know where to turn, I don’t know how to get to this appointment.” We’ll be able to work with them and Monroe (County Public) Transit, and help them understand that they can get rides and here’s how you can do that and we’ll help you get those rides in place,” she said.
Zoller said officials also plan to contact senior centers and other organizations in the county to let them know the agency is available for help.
“The more we know about the types of rides people need, the more we can help understand how to get them there and what the county needs,” she said.
Zoller said the main focus of the program will be to help people get the transportation they need to get to non-emergency medical appointments.
“There’s a pretty high percentage, maybe 19%, of Monroe County residents who miss doctor’s appointments because they can’t get around. … We want to be able to try to make those connections », she said, adding that they prefer people to call with a few days notice so they have time to plan a ride for the individual.
“This will give us time to work with transportation providers and find out if they are eligible for services and how to get them there.”
Zoller said the program is funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation. She said there might be a cost associated with the third-party provider that the individual might have to pay.
“We just help them find those resources and connect those dots,” she said.
Additional information will be released in the future once the county office is operational.
Commissioner Mick Schumacher said many people will benefit from the new scheme. He said the program will also help give residents access to entertainment facilities, schools and other places they might want to go but don’t have the ability.
“We have a lot of people who would love to come to the theater (Monroe) but don’t drive after dark. This will not only improve doctor appointments, but also quality of life,” he said, adding that students who don’t have a driver’s license can also use the service to get to school.
Officials hope to open the Woodsfield office in March. Those requiring transportation services can call the office at 800-331-2644, ext. 6.