“Lack of regular public transportation was always identified as the first, second or third barrier we had for folks in this area for receiving medical assistance and training,” he said.
Over the years, Clark has seen public transportation in Illinois’ five southernmost counties come a long way.
He saw it reach another goal last Wednesday when he was among those to officially break ground on April 9 at the new Shawnee Mass Transit District (Shawnee MTD) office and vehicle maintenance facility which will be located at the Johnson County Industrial Park in Vienna.
“Our dreams are finally being realized,” said Clark, a former Shawnee MTD board president and the current Union County Shawnee MTD board representative.
Driving through time
During former-Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar’s administration the need for public transportation in Illinois’ rural areas was studied. At that time, Clark said, the the Union County Public Aid office was part of a pilot program for Social Service Reform and lack of transportation “was identified as the primary barrier we had in the area for economic development and for our clients. From that, finally, some action was taken. It (lack of transportation) was always identified, but during that pilot, that’s when the nut was finally put in the ground and the acorn started to grow.”
For 18 months an unofficial board met before that acorn became SMART, or Southern Most Area Rural Transit, which was formed in April 2001 by the passing of a resolution signed by government officials in Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski and Union counties. Clark came on board two years later.
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