February 03, 2023

Trolley still preparing for new location

Southern Iowa Trolley’s Leesa Lester said Monday the search is ongoing for the new location for the service that provides public transportation. She met with Union County Board of Supervisors about funding as supervisors are preparing the fiscal year 2024 budget that begins July 1.

Last fall, the organization was awarded a $1.6 million grant for a new building as their facility no longer meets the needs of the agency. The grant was through Iowa’s office of public transit who collected and submitted applications for multiple transit agencies. Lester said the new location can be anywhere within its service area but she prefers staying in Creston.

Supervisors asked if the Agrivison John Deere dealership facility on Creston’s east side on Taylor Street would work. Last year, Agrivision announced its plans to move its Creston operation to Lenox in Taylor County. Lester said the building was considered but she is not confident Agrivision will be out in time before the grant expires.

Supervisors did not take any action on her request.

When the grant was awarded, Lester said she wasn’t sure how much $1.6 million will purchase considering the high cost of building materials.

Part of the move will be the transition to electric-powered buses. The grant states the funding is for “urban and rural transit agencies to buy battery electric buses and charging equipment. The project will also support the construction of transit facilities and workforce development activities. The project will reduce operating costs and emissions while improving transit service in communities across Iowa.”

Electric charging stations will be part of the new location. Lester said the buses are required to be kept and driven for 10 years. She is also hoping to include solar power for the building to lower the cost of electricity.

Improved security is another emphasis. Lester said vandalism has been an issue. About the time the grant was awarded, several vehicles had the catalytic converters stolen. Security measures were increased after that incident.

Desires are also to have buses kept out of the weather.

In other supervisor news...

Supervisors took no action on a proposal by Brittany Palmer, executive director of Crossroads Mental Health, requesting to spend $12,000 of the county’s opioid settlement funds for drug prevention programs. The program would be incorporated within a school’s regular class schedule. She used health class, as an example. The program would take 12 weeks. The cost is per school.

Union County has received $75,296 in settlement. Last summer county officials were informed of the settlement and how funds could be spent. The county’s amount is much more than what was initially anticipated. The state of Iowa reached an agreement with the settlement allowing municipalities to request for funds.

According to the Associated Press, the three drug distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson agreed in July 2021 to pay the combined $26 billion to resolve thousands of state and local government lawsuits related to opioid use.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.