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Brakes put on C.A.R.S. program

Thursday, August 3, 2006

By ANDY MCCAMMON

tamccammon1@yahoo.com

A not-for-profit agency has put the brakes on a plan that would have provided public transportation to elderly and disabled Clay County residents.

The small-scale public transit system proposed to county officials by Rockville-based non-profit Child Adult Resource Services (C.A.R.S.) has been placed on hold. The agency had planned to launch the program early in 2007, but now that timetable has been pushed back by at least a year.

Basil Weimann, executive director of the Rockville-based agency, said the program may need more tweaking before it can be effectively instituted.

"We're trying to develop a cohesive approach to transport," he said. "We wanted to make sure that our approach was correct so we could be effective stewards of taxpayers' dollars."

Weimann said personnel changes within the agency affected his decision to put a hold on the Clay County project. Jon Bonomo, the former C.A.R.S. transportation director who had spearheaded the initiative, is no longer with the agency.

The planned C.A.R.S. service may have stepped on the toes of existing transportation services in the county, Weimann said. The Clay County Senior Center already offers a similar service, and center officials had complained a public transit system would render their rides program obsolete.

"We just want to make sure that the whole approach is meeting the community's need without conflicting with somebody else providing services," Weimann said.

C.A.R.S. will continue to work toward devising a public-transportation system for county residents, which Weimann hopes can be instituted by 2008.

"Obviously there's a need in the community, and we want to try to fulfill that need," he said.

Other C.A.R.S. programs include rehabilitation services, employment counseling for the disabled and work with at-risk families.



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