When was the last time Gilmer County had a bus or taxi service in order to offer an alternative and less expensive mode of transportation than having a friend or neighbor drive car-less people either in or out of county?
Was it 30, 40 or 50 years ago?
Right now, the officials of the Little Kanawha Bus company are getting concerned about the county's lack of usage of their new local public transportation services. If the low use continues, there's a good possibility that we Gilmer Countians might lose this vital service.
Really, perhaps some of you seniors can remember the days when once flourishing bus lines linked all areas of the state with the big cities and destinations even beyond. For example, Greyhound used to be able to take you any place in the United States. In fact, I'd occasionally use this busline to go to college from Indiana to St. Louis, if I didn't use the train instead.
But, in the early 1980s, this publisher sadly remembers when the public bus service withdrew from Welch (McDowell County), thereby leaving many rural and car-less residents without wheels to get to their relatives' homes, the shopping malls, big city medical services, among other desired destinations. Down there, the folding of that busline's route to Welch financially hurt the most disadvantaged residents, those who couldn't afford a vehicle.
Although the bus companies of old, except for the giants, such as Greyhound or Trailways, have found it monetarily impossible to maintain service to its users in smaller towns, the Little Kanawha Bus Company, on the other hand, has maintained a viable service in its areas by using smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles.
This non-profit firm - headquartered in neighboring Calhoun County - which operates on government grants as well as user fees, has been in existence for over a decade and provides a vital service for the people in several counties, of which the latest is Gilmer County. Here, the seniors and car-less people have found the new bus service to be both convenient and helpful in linking them with where they need to go.
Also, by booking one's trip in advance, the Little Kanawha Bus Company can gather others together to make the same trip, thereby making the journey less costly and more efficient for the company and to keep it afloat, financially speaking.
In fact, the company's bus schedule seems realistic to us editors, in that it covers almost the entire county.
In addition, service to Glenville is also provided, as we editors have seen LK riders shopping in Foodland and other area stores.
To book a ride, or to get more schedule information, just call 1-866-354-5522 (toll free).
As a result of the current lack of ridership, we editors encourage you area readers to use this LK Bus service, whenever feasible. The Gilmer County Family Resource Network (FRN) officials have encouraged this bus service from the outset, as well as many other public officials and this newspaper.
The mailing address is Little Kanawha Bus, PO Box 387, Grantsville, WV 26147.
If enough people in the county use this new service, there will be no problem in keeping it active here. If not, owing to the Little Kanawha Bus line's grant user requirements, the service may be dropped.
And, that dire outcome would be a great setback to this growing county. After all, public transportation is a key to successful economic and industrial development, and those prospects are just around the corner for Gilmer County, especially when the Marcellus Shale boom kicks into high gear.
The public's commendations and gratitude are greatly deserved by our Gilmer County emergency responders, due to their rapid and thorough handling and stopping of the Thurs., Apr. 3, 2014 oil leak, which had crossed the Laurel Creek Road and went into Laurel Creek of Tanner, just a few miles west of the Tanner community.
Hazardous waste boom logs, among other remedies, were placed in the creek to prevent the leakage from - eventually - working its way into the Little Kanawha River, thereby posing a threat to the water systems in Grantsville and other communities downstream. In fact, the local HAZMAT (hazardous waste responding) team, which has been carefully trained to handle such potential dangers to the public's health and safety, was on the problem site within minutes of the leak's reporting. (We editors might also point out with pride that our local responders to our hazardous waste threat was much faster than the similar Kanawha County team's reaction to the deadly January 9, 2014 MCHM chemical leak into the Elk River, then into the Kanawha River and, finally, into the area water company's supply system, thus contaminating the drinking and bathing water of over 300,000 residents for two weeks. Moreover, some people are still leery of that drinking water.)
In addition to the local HAZMAT team, the deputies of the Sheriff's Dept., Gilmer County Emergency Management officials, and the county Fire Dept.'s volunteers, not counting the state agencies coming in later, were on the scene "pronto."
What all of this means is: we citizens of Gilmer County live in safety, due to the many dedicated local emergency responders. And, that's more than what many other West Virginia counties can claim!