Kiwanis donation to buy books for children
At the March 10 meeting of the Roxboro Kiwanis Club, Judy Batten with the Person County Partnership for Children received a contribution from the club for the local Dolly Parton Imagination Library program.
Batten thanked the club and indicated that the funds will purchase books for 100 children. She mentioned that the Partnership’s $25,000 capital campaign goal to benefit Imagination Library is within reach. She noted that this program is vitally important because studies have shown that children who participate benefit from increased comprehension and vocabulary.
She revealed that she is retiring this year and that the Partnership is proudly celebrating its 20th anniversary in Person County.
Kathy Adcock, manager of Person Area Transportation System (PATS) spoke to the club about this important county service. PATS was established in 1999 and serves all county residents. It maintains a fleet of 15 vehicles and logs around 44,000 trips each year. This includes contracts with Person Industries and Person County Department of Social Services to provide transportation services to their clients. PATS receives county, state and federal funding and operates with both administrative and capital budgets. There is some revenue from passenger fares, and some annual state and federal grant funding.
Adcock explained the county is divided into six zones, with a pricing structure from $12-$20. Many people, such as the elderly and disabled, qualify for reduced fares. PATS vehicles also transport citizens to medical appointments three days a week in Durham, Chapel Hill and Prospect Hill. Routes also include Wal-Mart and other common destinations. There are an average of 200-240 stops per day.
Adcock emphasized that PATS is not a taxi service and that trips must be scheduled in advance. She noted that Person is one of the first counties in North Carolina to charge by zones, rather than by the mile, and that a new route has just been started to the Hurdle Mills area.
PATS is a part of the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments (COG). It was recently awarded financial assistance to study f an inner loop shuttle, which would provide regular stops at appointed times that would not require scheduling. Adcock noted that this will involve a great deal of legal compliance and preparation, signage and permissions. She advised that such stops might include Piedmont Community College and the multi-family housing nearby. It would likely involve approximately eight stops, including DSS, the Person County courthouse, local grocery stores, Person Memorial Hospital and others to be determined. She indicated that this could be both a revenue-producer for PATS and a boon to business and government services.
The annual budget for this program is approximately $600,000, including grant funds. Adcock pointed out that only about 15 percent of its funding comes from the county general fund. In response to questions from club members, she noted that commercial drivers licenses are not required for its drivers if the vehicle is under 32 feet long, PATS does not charter its vehicles for private events (although that could be something for future study), PATS riders include some persons who have lost their driving privileges for various reasons and vehicles with wheelchair accessibility are available, a significant benefit for medical users of the service.
She advised that PATS operates five days a week at present, but that the advent of a new inner loop route may expand the operations. Planning discussions for this expansion are ongoing and involve Will Brooks, a COG employee who is also a Person County native. PATS operations are overseen by a 12-member advisory board which meets quarterly.