Pioneer bus a Mineral County asset

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The Pioneer Council provides transportation to your friends, family and neighbors in Mineral County more often than most people realize. Besides the five scheduled trips to Missoula each month, The Pioneer bus is also going to Plains, and from Saltese to Superior and back.

It’s a busy bus that is getting worn out and the Pioneer Council is on a crusade to replace not only the bus but purchase a second vehicle that will be used for short runs. Such as medical appointments and hospital discharges. The quick-story is that by raising $11,000, they will purchase a minivan and a ramp-equipped minivan for our non-ambulatory community members.

Because of a matching grant from the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), the local match leverages $66,000 in federal money. These new vehicles will allow for more cost-efficient service, providing more comfortable rides to our non-ambulatory neighbors and meeting some of the unmet needs.

How often do you see the bus dropping off customers near your business? Do you know of people who rely on their transportation or they’d be homebound or placed in nursing homes? How many times would you have to take off from work to give your parent a ride to medical appointments or grocery shopping if they didn’t have the bus? Or worst be forced to leave this community, their friends and support network to move to a city with the necessary transportation.

Did you know that in certain cases, the Pioneer bus can be used for trips to special events in Missoula and even gather up neighbors for Christmas performances at our local schools?

As a resident of County 54, the Pioneer Council is asking for your assistance in three different ways:

• Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 10, St. Regis MT 59866. Funds need to be raised by March 1, 2019, in order to meet MDT grant deadlines. They are a 501(c)(3) so donations are tax deductible and any size is deeply appreciated!

• Write a letter of support that will be included in the packet for the grant request. If you don’t use its services but know of people who do, and it is important to them, your letter will be very much appreciated.

• Volunteer to drive the bus.

Both letters and donations can go to the same address and the next meeting is at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 25 in the St. Regis Senior Center. These are open to the public and you will be very welcome to hear how this group of volunteers is working to keep public transportation alive in our county.

— Monte Turner, Superior

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