CRESTVIEW — One local activist, accepting the Okaoosa Board of County Commissioners' challenge, is putting feet to the pavement to save the city's threatened bus routes.
Commissioners, citing low ridership, gave the city 60 days to contribute $25,000 to keep the service running.
With the calendar counting down the days, Mae Reatha Coleman hit the street. Cruising up and down Ferdon Boulevard, she visited businesses that benefit from customers and workers who use the buses.
"I'm fighting for the little old lady and the little old man that doesn't have a car," Coleman told North Okaloosa Medical Center CEO David Fuller.
At businesses including the hospital, Wal-Mart, Publix grocery and Ryan's Family Steakhouse, Coleman explained to managers the importance of the bus service to their businesses.
"I don't care where I stop, as long as I get some help," Coleman said.
The Crestview City Council granted Coleman authority to meet with individuals and businesses to seek donations for the city's contribution, according to a letter from Mayor David Cadle that Coleman left at each stop.
Uncertain cost, uncertain revenue
It will cost about $96,000 to keep the two bus lines operating, Crestview city clerk Betsy Roy said, and the $25,000 mentioned as the city's contribution isn't definite.
"They really haven't said how much we need to contribute," Roy said.
One possible source of city bus route funding could be an increased city share of county gasoline tax revenue, but the state has not yet decided how much that would be. The increased tax doesn't take effect until Jan. 1.
"But we also need that gas tax money to pave the roads," Roy said.
Undeterred, Coleman keeps knocking on doors.
"If we can show that the community is trying, this may do something," Coleman said.
"I appreciate your efforts," Publix manager Tim Bryant told Coleman, promising to forward her request to the grocery chain's corporate office.
WANT TO HELP?
Businesses or individuals wishing to support Mae Reatha Coleman's efforts to raise funds to retain Crestview's bus routes may send donations, made payable to City of Crestview, to City Clerk Betsy Roy, 198 N. Wilson St, Crestview FL 32536-3436.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.