ODOT grant to provide transportation for veterans

SALEM — Veterans who live in rural Linn County will have access to transportation to medical facilities thanks to a $50,000 Rural Veterans Healthcare Transportation Grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Commissioners Roger Nyquist and Sherrie Sprenger approved accepting the grant. Commissioner Will Tucker was not present.

Linn County Transportation Director Reagan Maudlin told the Board of Commissioners on March 26 that she worked with Linn County Veterans Services to submit the grant application. Funding for the program is not always available, but this grant will run until July 2025.

“We are really excited about this,” Maudlin said outside of the meeting. “It is a statewide competition for the funding, that must be used solely for veterans’ transportation programs.”

She thanked Jessica Valenzuela of Veterans Services for her work toward the grant application.

Maudlin said transportation can be more expensive for rural residents, so this grant will help buffer some of that cost.

Linn County has been providing transportation for area veterans for a couple years thanks to funding from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and the Linn County Board of Commissioners.

This new funding stream will provide another pool of money and extend opportunities.

Valenzuela said Linn County Veterans Services coordinates about 20 rides per month and works with Quality Medical Services.

“They use both cars and vans with wheelchair access,” Valenzuela said.

Transportation is for medical appointments only.

According to ODOT, the Rural Veterans Healthcare Transportation Grant Program was created in 2019 and began with $500,000 in funding. In 2021 that was increased to $650,000 and funded 12 area programs and development of Go Vets Oregon, a “veterans only portal on ODOT’s ride matching Get There Connect.”

To access healthcare rides for local visits, visit the Linn County Veterans Services website at www. https://www.linncountyor.gov/vets.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Were told by Juvenile Detention Manager Kevin Husk that four young people from Benton County, 33 from Linn County and three from Lincoln County were held at the detention center last month. There were 77 referrals in February. There are 202 young people in the Probation Unit, of which 34 are considered high-risk.
  • Approved a temporary part-time employment agreement with Corrections Deputy Lori Frenzel. She has been working for a year and the new agreement will add one more year.
  • Accepted a permanent easement along Seven Mile Lane from Kenneth D. Roth and J. Evon Roth; a permanent easement from Roth Valley Family Farms, Kenneth D. Roth and J. Evon Roth as Trustees of the Kenneth and J. Evon Roth Revocable Trust. Approved publishing a bid advertisement and set a bid opening date for the Seven Mile Lane turn lane paving project.
  • Adopted the Linn County Community Wildfire Protection Plan presented by Associate Planner Kate Bentz. In a written report, Bentz said the plan was developed with intergovernmental collaboration with local, regional, state and federal partners.
  • Approved a $500,000 increase in the Health Department budget for new Alcohol and Drug contracts with the CDC and IHN (Intergovernmental Health Network).
  • Approved a $120,000 increase within the General Fund to backfill the Justice of the Peace Courts State Assessment pass through money.
  • Made numerous appointments including: Community Action Advisory Council: Fred Edward and Jason Dorsette, reappointments; Alcohol & Drug Planning Committee: Angie Jansen and Penny Davis, reappointments; Linn-Benton Housing Authority: Stacey Bartholomew, reappointment; Linn Local Advisory Committee: Andrea Bartell, new appointment, Judy Rinkin, Larry Eby, Kathryn Henderson and Maria Buttram, reappointments; Mental Health Advisory Board: Shawnell Tolliver, Kate Hall and Dick Knowles, all reappointments; Planning Commission: Robert Bronson, Mellissa Barnard and Rayne Legras, all reappointments; Historical Resource Commission: Richard Harper and Mandy Cole, both reappointments; Compensation Board: Jack Breen, Rebecca Grizzle and Susan Coleman, all reappointments.