March 13, 2014 10:43:34 AM
The operator of a public transportation system in Aberdeen has expressed interest in delivering the same service to West Point.
Operator and manager McKinley Whitley spoke to West Point selectmen Tuesday night to inform them of his hopes to expand the services of Aberdeen on Wheels to the county seat of Clay County.
Aberdeen on Wheels is a new, for-profit operation that started last July and the company uses wheelchair passenger vehicles, shuttle buses and 15-passenger vans made available by Columbus-based TC Express. Aberdeen on Wheels has worked to generate more business opportunities in its home base, but Whitley said he hopes to expand services to West Point, Fulton, Houston and Okolona in the coming years.
"Public transit is something the state is trying to promote in places that don't have it," Whitley said. "We're hoping we can open in areas that don't have it ... and be able to run efficiently at a very low cost to the people from West Point"
One of the reasons Whitley came before selectmen was to get the word out to non-profit agencies in the area, he said, because the start-up company is looking for funding sources for vehicles they can use to begin new operations outside of Aberdeen.
"We're a for-profit company, but we're looking to partner with a non-profit agency in the area to get grants for vehicles. We just have to find a match for whatever grants require," he said. "Business has not been as good as I was hoping, but I'm learning that as a start-up company, people have got to get out there. One of our main things is even though we have somebody that's letting us use their equipment and is over us, it's up to us to make our own money. Advertising is one of those things where if we can, we will. Right now it's kind of expensive for us, so we're doing it by word of mouth and flyers."
The board took no action as Whitley was there only to express interest. Mayor Robbie Robinson advised Whitley he could attend the city's auction, where he may be able to purchase equipment and possibly vehicles for his business.
"I think the service (Whitley) offers to the public is one that needs to be tied to the community," Robinson said.
In other business, the board:
· Approved several engineering and construction invoices paid for by grants and state funds for the Yokohama Tire Company project;
· Approved a draft of a pre-treatment permit for wastewater conversion from the Yokohama plant site;
· Approved a contract with the Swift Center for $1,000 to store archived documents in a climate-controlled facility;
· Authorized West Point Police Chief Tim Brinkley to purchase three cruisers and two unmarked vehicles for $150,000;
· Hired four police officers.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.