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Published: Wednesday, 4/24/2013

Neighbors Helping Neighbors honored by Perrysburg mayor

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Shortly after being honored by Perrysburg Mayor Nelson Evans at a city council meeting Tuesday for their service, members of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program expressed displeasure at the gap they are expected to have in public transportation. 

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors was a program created to match volunteers with seniors and people with disabilities in Perrysburg that needed a ride after Perrysburg residents voted to terminate a contract with the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority in the March 2012 election, ending service Sept. 22.

At the end of this month the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program will end, although the phone line will still be available for rides to the polls May 7.

The proposed five-year, 0.8-mill levy request on the May election ballot is a little more than half the amount of the levy that was voted down in November. The transit levy, if approved, would generate about $450,000 per year, and  would cost the owner of a $200,000 house $50 a year.

Earlier this month the city council decided to go with Ride Right, a dial-in ride service, for its public transportation services if the levy passes. Ride Right was used from Sept. 22 to Nov. 27 last year after TARTA services ended.

After being honored, members of Neighbors Helping Neighbors said they were still upset they have to be in a position to vote on transportation service. Rosa Linda Brown organized rides for herself with the program and was extremely thankful for the volunteers they had.

"My grandma worked really hard, I watched her go through this with a lot of stress and I thought it was crazy [Perrysburg didn't have public transportation]," said Devyne Brown, 17, a Perrysburg High School student. "I was flabbergasted [the city] stopped it, we shouldn't be in this situation to vote on it anyway."

Mayor Evans said he believed voters did not pass the first levy because of the higher millage of the previous levy last November. 

City Administrator Bridgette Kabat said the city has talked to Ride Right and anticipate, if the levy is passed, it would take them about 60 days to get it up and running, perhaps sooner.

"With a 60-day gap there will be a lot of hungry people," Ms. Brown said. 

Council member Todd Grayson said Ride Right would need the 60 days to hire drivers, get a facility, and get a phone line.

"Ride Right would start immediately," he said. "But it is going to take some time."

Mayor Evans gave out certificates and mugs to volunteers of Neighbors Helping Neighbors at the beginning of the meeting.

"I really appreciate Neighbors Helping Neighbors for the effort and time they gave to help people in the community," he said. "They went above and beyond."

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, or 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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