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Whiteside taking the wheel of transit agency

State advises more county oversight

MORRISON – Whiteside County plans to take direct control of the county's public transportation agency, as Lee County did a couple of years ago.

This week, the Whiteside County Board authorized the hiring of a public transportation director, with a salary range of $36,000 to $64,000, to be paid for with federal grants. 

The Whiteside County Senior Center is the manager and operator of the federally funded transportation service, but the state wants counties to provide more oversight, County Administrator Joel Horn said.

"They want some separation between the provider and the person who is responsible to ensure grant compliance," he said. 

The county, which is advertising the position internally first, has until Jan. 1 to hire a director.

"We hope to get it done sooner than that," Horn said.

Doug Vandersee, executive director of the Whiteside County Senior Center, said Betty Steinert, a county official, has provided oversight for the transportation service.

"The state now wants it more formalized," he said.

Tori McDaniel, the center's transportation director, couldn't be reached for comment about whether she plans to apply for the position. The new director will likely be based at the senior center.

Two years ago, Lee County – at the state's urging – decided to take charge of the Lee-Ogle Transportation System, or LOTS, assuming that role from the Lee County Council on Aging, which runs the Dixon Senior Center. 

The Dixon center and other groups are LOTS providers.

Although senior centers often run public transportation, rides are available for people of all ages.

About the service

Whiteside County Senior Center, 1207 W. Ninth St. in Sterling, provides the county's transportation service. The service is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended hours by appointment. Special medical trips are made with approval.

Call 24 hours in advance for rides. 

With prior approval through First Transit, Medicaid recipients may be transported to medical appointments at no cost to the rider.

Ages 60 and older: A $1 suggested donation is requested for transportation within a person's hometown – one way.

Ages 6-59: A $2 fee for in-town trips – one way.

Ages 5 and younger: 50-cent fee for in-town trips – one way.

All out-of-town trip fees are 25 cents per mile plus downtime of $10 per hour after the first hour.

Call 815-625-7433 or 815-622-9230 for more information.

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