Payson Seniors Ride In Style With Increased Hours

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Have you noticed the classy new 2004 Ford van transporting senior citizens around Payson? There are large windows, a luxury previously unavailable to people using wheelchairs, which provide panoramic views.

For Payson Senior Center members and staff, picking up the new van this September was a long-anticipated and very needed addition to their transportation fleet.

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Payson Senior Center Director Marsha Cauley and van driver Hank McConnell try out the wheelchair lift. The center's new van has two tiedowns for wheelchair transportation.

The planning to purchase the van began in July of 2002. Payson Town Councilors Judy Buettner and Robert Henley realized the local need of creating opportunities for increased independence of the growing number of senior citizens choosing Payson as a retirement community. One of the beginning options was to research funding from the Council of Arizona Associations of Government and the Arizona Department of Transportation. When initial funding looked possible, the town of Payson was able to cover a percentage of the van cost as well.

To schedule the van, contact the Payson Senior Center dispatcher by telephone at (928) 474-4876 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. Please schedule your transportation needs as early as possible to ensure your ride. One day's notice is essential to plan routes, and if seniors wait that late to call in, they may not get the ride or the exact times needed.

Transportation routes are currently limited to destinations within Payson city limits. The fee begins at $4 for a round trip to one destination. Additional stops and wheelchair fees are slightly higher. Please call for specific details.

This service makes trips to grocery stores, medical appointments, lunch, meetings, entertainment, beauty shops, and other needs possible.

Seniors will be picked up at and delivered back to their front door. Assistance with carrying packages is available.

In answer to many requests, van rides are now available in the afternoons from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The increase in hours began April 1 and was funded by a six-month grant received from the Gila County Transportation Fund. Those monies ran out Sept. 30. At that point a grant was received from the town of Payson, which is continuing the funding for nine more months.

The Senior Center administration and membership are most appreciative that those two local funding sources agreed that there is a continuing need for increased van service hours.

For those seniors no longer able to drive their own vehicles, the new van offers increased options for them to be less isolated, while contributing to and maintaining their health and independence.

This cooperation of local funding sources not only make sense in today's economy, it makes the community stronger.

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