ATA Bus Executive Director Anne Smith presented a 2020 budget request to Geary County commissioners during Monday’s meeting. 

Smith requested the same amount of money for ATA Bus — $200,000 — as was requested for last year’s budget. She also provided updates on company initiatives.

Smith believes ATA Bus is changing lives, and its impact can be evaluated through ridership and customer feedback. There has been a 150 percent increase in ridership during the past two years, Smith said. This includes 2,865 average riders in the past year. Buses empower people of all ages, incomes and abilities with three Junction City fixed routes and curb-to-curb service, Smith said. Buses accommodate residents needing rides to jobs, grocery stores, shopping centers, medical appointments, education, services, residences and other destinatioins. 

Beginning in January, a partnership with Unified School District 475 allowed students to use any ATA Bus service free of charge if they had their student ID. Smith said a lack of reliable transportation is one of the leading causes of employee turnover; transit connects community members to jobs, she said. 

After speaking with industrial real estate experts coast to coast about the amenities workers in industrial facilities desired, most included temperature control, access to public transportation, on-site food options, gym/workout facilities, windows (natural light and fresh air), electric vehicle charging, walking trails, outdoor seating, games, day care, improved restrooms, break areas, lactation rooms and privacy rooms. 

The top local trip generators — in order — are Dillon’s, Walmart, Junction City High School, 14th and Calhoun streets, Coronado Park, the ACT Call Center, Cloud County Community College, Cracker Barrel, 18th and Jackson streets, Geary County Community Hospital, Grant Avenue and Riverbend, the Junction City Police Station and Footlocker. The total income accrued by ATA Bus was approximately $2.76 million, with $1.7 million coming from grants/contracts. Geary County’s ATA Bus employees earned $356,870 in fiscal year 2018.

Commissioners did not make any final decisions on Smith’s request.

In other business, Erica Christie — the director of support and services at Three Rivers Inc. presented a $20,000 budget request. 

The company empowers people with disabilities and seniors to live, work and be active members of the community, Christie said. With a location in Junction City, a goal of Christie’s is to get more people to go there instead of having staff always visit patients. With Junction City services continuing to grow, Three Rivers also requested the same amount of money as last year’s budget provided. The company provides assistance with pre-employment skills, including responsible attendance practices and resume writing. Three Rivers has begun pursuing the addition of more veterans programs and veteran service organizations. It has been on a “full-court press” to be able to offer services to all veterans, Christie said. Three Rivers has been offering services since 1986, and will continue that trend, Christie said. 

Community health planner Charles Martinez also discussed local health initiatives with commissioners. He said the Public Health Department will be partnering with JC Nazarene for a back-to-school event on July 27. Event organizers are currently coordinating with many other organizations to participate, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, county clerks, United Way and the Junction City Fire Department.

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