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Published: Tuesday, 3/19/2013

No bus service hinders residents

Options limited for disabled in Perrysburg

BY MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Derek O'Neal, above, who is unable to drive himself, relies on Jerry Chambers to take him to and from work at Meijer since TARTA ceased operating in Perrysburg following a September referendum. Derek O'Neal, above, who is unable to drive himself, relies on Jerry Chambers to take him to and from work at Meijer since TARTA ceased operating in Perrysburg following a September referendum.
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Perrysburg resident Derek O’Neal said he will have to quit his job of nearly nine years and move out of Perrysburg to a town with public transportation if the transit levy does not get passed May 7.

Jerry Chambers and his wife, Debbie, of Perrysburg drive Mr. O’Neal to and from the Rossford Meijer store, where he works. The Chambers family started volunteering in January and have already taken him on 27 trips. Mr. O’Neal’s mother, step-dad, and sister also give him rides.

“If [the levy] doesn’t pass this time I’m moving out of Perrysburg,” Mr. O’Neal said. “I can’t expect volunteers all the time and can’t always rely on them.”

Mr. O’Neal is unable to drive because of a disability from a car accident in high school. Although he is appreciative of the Chambers family, he does not want to always depend on them. In June, the Chamberses will be unavailable to transport him for several weeks.

“I’m very disappointed in our voters,” Mr. Chambers said. “Derek is a good kid. He offered to fill up my [gas] tank, I told him we are volunteers, there is no need for that.”

The proposed five-year, 0.8-mill levy request that will go on the May 7 ballot is a little more than half the amount of the levy that was voted down in November, and about one-third of what city residents were paying when the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority served the community. TARTA ceased service in Perrysburg in September after voters passed a referendum a year ago to withdraw from that agency.

Go Perrysburg is a committee trying to get the levy passed on the May 7 ballot.

The transit levy, if approved, would generate approximately $450,000 per year. It would cost the owner of a $200,000 house $50 a year. The levy, if approved, would provide a dial-a-ride service for a small fee.

“That would be exhilarating,” said Rosa Linda Brown of Perrysburg who sets up volunteers with people who need rides. “We are hoping it will pass because this is serious. It is cutting people off from their independence. It makes us rely on family and others.”

Ms. Brown, who is disabled, uses public transportation to get around. She said seniors, people with disabilities, and others who don’t have vehicles need to have a way to get around. Ms. Brown said asking for rides wears on both parties involved. “We don’t want to be a bother, and people don’t like being bothered,” she said.

Initial hours for the service, if the levy passes, would be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Scheduling would be flexible based on the availability of how the system is used.

“The best part of this levy is that it will keep Perrysburg stable by enabling residents to stay in their homes longer and age with independence and dignity,” said Jack Hoeflinger, committee chairman of Go Perrysburg. “They won’t have to ask friends and family members to take off work to take them to health care and other necessary appointments.”

It would cost $1 a ride with transportation throughout Perrysburg, and to a connection service to and from Toledo, at the Maumee Municipal Building and Rossford Meijer store.

Mr. O’Neal, a Meijer greeter for nine years come June, said he’s very thankful for Mr. Chambers and the volunteers taking time to give him rides to and from work.

“They are so great,” he said. “If there were more people like them in the world it would be a better place.”



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