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County to replace ATA service next year
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
By Wendy Lynn Brion  Staff Writer
The Clearfield County Commissioners confirmed yesterday that the county will be parting ways with the Area Transportation Authority in a year's time.
In June the commissioners expressed concerns with ATA, which provides public transportation for six counties under Act 44. Clearfield County pays the lion's share of local match funding for ATA and in June Commissioner Joan Robinson McMillen said the commissioners have had concerns about ATA for some time. The commissioners had requested a copy of the budget in June but never received a copy and the board voted on the budget even though no one had time to review it. When McMillen and Commissioner John Sobel attended the regular meeting they learned of other things that concerned them, including board members being expected to vote on items they have not had time to review.
Ultimately the commissioners have been concerned about a lack of transparency concerning the operation of ATA and also the lack of service in the county. At the June meeting the commissioners said they were looking to transfer Act 44 funds to DuFAST and have that company cover the entire county.
Near the end of the commissioners' meeting, a resident of Clearfield came in and asked if she could speak about ATA. She requested the commissioners "kick out" ATA and related she had just been at the bus stop at the courthouse, waiting for the 10:10 a.m. bus to DuBois, which makes the trip monthly. She said the bus went by without stopping and she called ATA to complain, but did not get anywhere with them. The next bus to DuBois was scheduled to leave at noon.
The resident went on to say that the busses often neglect to stop at scheduled stops and sometimes will skip entire areas. She said the busses are often dirty and the drivers can be rude. She asked the commissioners to look into DuFAST or CATA out of Centre Co.
McMillen then said that they have already put ATA on notice that Clearfield County would drop its service in a year and transition to DuFAST. The county needs to give DuFAST time to increase their bus fleet and the transition will be a gradual one.
Earlier in the meeting McMillen announced that the county had requested a meeting with ATA and were told that the beginning of this month was "way too busy," and possibly there could be a meeting at the end of the month.
The commissioners also heard from Dawn Roussey of the state Department of Transportation concerning proclaiming Sept. 15-21 as Child Passenger Safety Week.
Roussey explained that three of four children are in car safety seats that are "not quite right" for them and what is often seen is parents graduating children to the next size seat early. She said the state police and PennDOT recommend a rear-facing seat for children up to age 2 and a booster seat until age 8. She said children at the upper limits of age and height for seats can be moved up, but parents should check manufacturer's guidelines.
On Sept. 16, the Clearfield Fire Department will stage a free child seat check from 3-8 p.m. Also, any state police barracks can do a seat check and Roussey is also certified in child seat checks.
She noted that more than 13,000 children under age 8 were involved in crashes last year.
There is also a lifetime limit of about six years for seats. She said safety seats are becoming more affordable and some of the more expensive seats have longer lifetimes, but in the end the parts do begin to degrade, which is why it is not advisable to purchase a seat at a yard sale. "If it's my precious cargo, or yours, you wouldn't want them in that," she said.
More information on child safety seats can be found at www.pakidstravelsafe.org or by calling 1-800-CAR-BELT.
In other business:
• the commissioners heard an update from Eric Bridges, director of North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, who talked about some of the things North Central has been involved in recently. North Central works with communities, businesses, industries and the workforce of six counties to streamline state, federal and regional services, including transportation and economic development.
He said two years ago the Corbett administration looked at ways to streamline services and one thing was to have business resource organizations under the Department of Economic and Community Development work together, which North Central has been involved in as well as other streamlining efforts.
He said North Central has had 135 new business clients in the past fiscal year including 1,000 consulting hours, $12 million in sales and more than 115 jobs created or retained.
North Central's GIS department has also helped with documenting the impact of flooding in the DuBois and Sandy Township areas, not only for the state Emergency Management Agency but also for future strategic planning.
• the commissioners proclaimed the week of Sept. 8 as National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week and noted in the proclamation that these professionals are overwhelmingly women who provide support for adults with mental or physical disabilities.
• the commissioners signed a Hazardous Materials Response Funding grant agreement for $19,739, which will provide funding for planning, education, equipment and training.
• the polling place lease agreement with the Clearfield County Fair and Park Board was approved. Beginning with the general election on Nov. 5, the polling stations for Clearfield's First and Third wards will be at the Expo 1 building at the driving park.
• the school-based probation program agreements with Clearfield and DuBois school districts were approved as well as service agreements with Keystone Adolescent Center and The Bair Foundation of Pennsylvania.
• a sub-contract with Cooper Township Municipal Authority for Community Development Block Grant funds was approved.
• the following Liquid Fuel allocations were approved: Bigler Township for $3,929.23, Mahaffey Borough for $3,300 and New Washington Borough for $3,300. Sobel abstained from the vote for Mahaffey Borough.
• Sobel announced that the voting for the Eighth Wonder of the World continues with Bilger's Rocks now in the top 50. More information will be provided at the next tourism meeting at noon today.
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