By Naomi Hatch
The Snowflake Town Council finally approved financial support for the White Mountain Connect bus service July 10.
The council members discussed the issue at their June 12 meeting, but a motion to approve Snowflake’s par-ticipation failed in a 3-3 vote. A motion was then made to table the item and it passed unanimously.
Town Manager Paul Watson summarized what was brought up previously.
In response to a question posed by Vice Mayor Jason Whiting at the June meeting, Pete Erlenbach, grant and public transit coordinator for the City of Show Low, explained that $242 of the $5,916 paid by each participating city or town went to administrative costs.
There were approximately 10 bus riders there, and Charlotte Yazzie said that she pays $30 to ride to work at Navajo County. She works for the Probation Department, and noted that she encourages people who visit the probation office to ride the bus. She said that there are 307 riders per month.
Yazzie said that she rides the bus to Snowflake and stops by Ed’s IGA to do her shopping, and if she has to catch the bus in Taylor, she would do her shopping in Taylor. She suggested that there be more advertising of the bus, and noted that bus shelters have been purchased and need to be installed. She also suggested that bus sched-ules be posted on the shelters and at the Chamber of Commerce office. She said she thought that seeing the shel-ters would make people more aware of the bus services.
Yazzie said that loss of the bus service would affect more than just Navajo County employees, noting that students attending alternative high school ride the bus.
Mayor Kelly Willis said that since last meeting, he was willing to give the bus one more year, because he sees the value of public transportation. He said he has seen the bus with no riders, but acknowledged that it does take time for a business to grow. He wanted everyone to realize that if the numbers don’t improve, he wouldn’t recommend approval again, because he wants to see improvement.
He then moved to approve support of continuation of White Mountain Connection bus services. The motion passed in a 5-2 vote, with Councilman Tom Poscharsky, who voted by phone, and Councilwoman Bev Kay op-posing the measure.
In other business, the council unanimously approved the expenditure of up to $100,000 for the purchase of a 10-wheel dump truck through an auction service.
Public Works Superintendent Terry Cooper explained that this item is in the 2012-13 budget to replace the six-wheel dump truck that is inadequate for hauling substantial loads of material. A 10-wheel dump truck would reduce out of pocket costs by eliminating the delivery costs for material and allowing the public works crew to work on their schedule. Cooper had attended auctions in Phoenix to assess the availability of trailers to move large pieces of equipment, particularly the asphalt laydown machine, and to view the condition of 10-wheel dump trucks with mileage around 500,000 miles.
Cooper assured council members that he would look for the best deal, and said he was asking them to put their trust in him and he would do a good job saving the town money.
By Naomi Hatch