Finally, new handi-van goes into action

Fort Frances Times and Rainy Lake Herald

There may be some unforeseen problems when the new handi-action van goes into action in Fort Frances on Monday.

But these may be insignificant compared to the hurdles overcome in the past four years by the Rainy River District Handicapped Action Group to obtain the van.

In order to comply with government rules, handicapped individuals of all ages who will be using the van must obtain a doctor’s certificate indicating that they need the service. Forms are available at Rainy crest and the Fort Frances Clinic.

The Van, which is equipped with a lift for easier loading of wheelchairs, is to be booked 24-hours in advance. The service will operate eight hours daily, five days a week at first.

A separate telephone line for calls for the van is to be installed at Rainy crest on Friday, said Fred Whitehead, Rainy crest administrator.

Terry Jewell is the van driver. He was the successful applicant and has worked “for some years” as an attendant in the nursing department at Rainy crest.

Individuals using the van are to pay $1 each ride.

“If they need an attendant, they should ask someone to accompany them,” suggested Pat Ash, president of the the handicapped action group.

The van is equipped to hold two wheelchairs and has seats for two attendants. The driver is prepared to help the individuals board the van but will not be able to assist the person around town.

Mrs. Ash expressed thanks on behalf of the group to all those who donated funds over the past three year as towards the purchase of of the $27,000 van .

“We also would not have the van if it hadn’t been for all the (promotional) help at the Fort Frances Times,” she added.

The Town of Fort Frances is to maintain the bus, Rainy crest will administer the service, and the program will be monitored by the handicapped group.

Those on hand last Monday to accept arrival of the new van- painted in town colours to match the town’s bus- included Mayor Dick Lyons, Handicapped Action Group President Pat Ash, Vice- President Sybil Mowe, who will be using the service; Rainy crest Board Chairman Cameron McKinnon and Bus Driver Terry Jewell.

It appears that some passengers may get two bus systems confused because both the town’s bus and the handi-action van are similar in appearance, noted the mayor.

Passengers are being asked to check the sign above the windshield “just to make sure.”