People with disabilities who have not otherwise been eligible for discounted county transportation, will have opportunity under a proposed change to the way the program is administered.


People with disabilities who have not otherwise been eligible for discounted county transportation, will have opportunity under a proposed change to the way the program is administered.
Andrea Whyte, director of Wayne County Human Services, received the County Commissioners’ support Thursday for the amended Shared Ride Program. Currently, the program receives reimbursement from the Pa. Department of Transportation (PennDOT), subsidizing most of the cost of trips made with the county vans, taking senior citizens age 65 and up to appointments or shopping, on a pre-arranged schedule. The senior citizens donate only $1 for the trip if it is within the county and $1.75 if out of the county. Anyone with a Medical Assistance card may take the van to doctor appointments at no charge.
The Commissioners agreed to a resolution asking PennDOT to increase the amount the state reimburses the county based on actual mileage rather than a flat fee for a trip, no matter how far.  Whyte said they are doing this to hope to recoup the county’s losses in the past two and a half years incurred by escalating gas prices, paying for drivers and other costs.
As it stands now, a person at least age 18 and under 65 and without a Medical Assistance card who has a disability- or even the general public- can ask to ride the county van, but it costs a flat rate of $11.25, said Whyte. Few of these population segments have asked, she noted.
If approved by PennDOT, these persons with a disability will be charged 15 percent of the fare, which will work out to a much better deal with the fare increases the County is asking. As proposed, the actual fare for traveling one or two miles would be $12; the person with disability (under 65 and having no Medical Assistance card) would pay 15 percent, or $1.80. The proposed actual fare to Scranton would be $20, or for the person with disability, 15 percent or $3.00.
The cost for senior citizens (with or without disabilities), however, would BE THE SAME AS IT IS NOW, Whyte stressed. Those with a Medical Assistance card also will still ride free, to doctor visits. Whyte said she hopes PennDOT will give approval of the new rate structure before July 1, which is the start of the fiscal year. Until PennDOT gives approval, the current system is in place. She added that the state funds 85 percent of the Shared Ride Program through Pennsylvania Lottery revenue.
Up to 900 new Democrats
• Approximately 900 persons have either switched from another party to Democrat or registered for the first time as Democrat in advance of the April 22nd Primary in Wayne County. Commissioner Wendell Kay, who chairs the Bureau of Elections Board, said a full report is planned for the Thursday, April 3rd Commissioners’ meeting. The County has also taken delivery of 40 AutoMark touch-screen voting devices to help persons with disabilities to vote. Training is underway.
• Lorna Fries, Deputy Director with the Area Agency on Aging, submitted her plan to retire as of June 20, 2008. Her resignation was accepted with “great regret,” said Commissioner Anthony Herzog, who made the motion.
• The Commissioners hired June A. Santo of Lake Ariel as a Fiscal Operations Officer-I, filling a vacancy in the Office of Human Services.
• Four part-time Corrections Officers were approved for advancement to full-time effective April 6: Brittany DeFazio, Constance DeFazio, Nicole DeFazio and Frances Schuster.
• A letter of support was approved for the Dreher Twp. Supervisors, who are applying for a grant for improvements at Carlton Drake Memorial Park in Newfoundland.
The April 1st Commissioners meeting is canceled. They normally meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. at the Courthouse.