Clay County Public Health Nurse Kim Hyatt and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Janice White, Brazil Park Board member Linda Messmer, YMCA of Clay County Executive Director Deborah Plummer, Clay County Council member Rita Rothrock, Hamilton Center Program Manager Kathy O'Campo and LEEAP Coordinator Mary Yelton are trying to develop a solution to current transportation problems affecting the area.
The group's present goal is to find interested individuals to participate in moving the program forward.
"We are in the information gathering process, and we know there's a need," Hyatt said. "A lot of it is going to come down to money. We are trying to see how other counties are handling their transportation systems."
According to Hyatt, the idea of a public transportation system in Clay County stemmed from the need for the Health Department to seek accreditation like a hospital.
"We wanted a community project, and we found out what the community seemed to say they needed the most was transportation," Hyatt explained.
To solve the transportation issues, the group wants to establish an official group who will collaborate county residents' transportation.
According to a presentation from the group, there are no comprehensive or viable public transportation sources in Clay County, no groups working to fill the void and no longer any state or federal subsidies to help cover costs for county transportation.
In addition, transportation limitations prevent Clay County citizens from accessing services and products for optimal health and wellness.
The group issued a survey to various local health care providers asking questions.
"Through our assessment, we found there are a lot of people out there who need help getting to a doctor's appointment, pharmacy and even going to Walmart."
According to the group's research, 14 of 16 county health care providers report the need for public transportation.
The group plans to explore various options for meeting transportation needs and funding for the services.
Currently, there are some private organizations offering transportation assistance such as the Senior Center, the local V.F.W. and U Go We Go, but the group wants to know if these services could be expanded.
Other ideas the group has considered includes working with local churches who already have buses or vans to provide transportation during the week and hiring the Rural Transit company to meet community needs.
The group also sent out a survey to local churches inquiring about available transportation options for each church, and three of four of the ministries responded saying they'd be interested in learning more about transportation outreach opportunities.
The Rural Transit already provides services to Lawrence, Monroe, Owen and Putnam counties.
Rural Transit is also a solution option, but the annual cost for service five days a week is approximately $100,000, but the group discussed providing transportation two days a week to reduce costs.
Group members are encouraging community members to attend their next meeting Friday, Oct. 14, from noon-1 p.m.
Group members said those who attend should bring their own lunch and a guest.
"Whether it's seeking medical attention or having access to fresh foods, we've discovered that this is a service the community has need of," Plummer said. "The Y is concerned about public health, and we're excited about the process of working to meet those needs."