Pelham seniors plead council for help on purchasing bus

A group of Pelham senior citizens addressed the City Council June 21 to plead for help on raising funds for a new Senior Center bus.

Resident Dick Paxton, who frequently visits the Senior Center, said the seniors have raised $12,000 through yard sales and fundraisers, but that still leaves them $43,000 short of the $55,000 they need to purchase a new bus.

“That will probably get us a motor and a transmission,” Paxton joked of the $12,000. “We need your help.”

The seniors currently have a 15-passenger van, and Paxton said it is not reliable most of the time.

“It spends more time in the garage than it does on the road,” Paxton said.

Paxton said a 25-passenger bus with an aisle would be much more accommodating for the seniors, and a new bus would also come equipped with seat belts, of which the current van has none.

The seniors currently use the van for short trips and to visit area nursing homes. The van is also the sole means of transportation for the Golden Voices, the center’s traveling singing group.

“We have a first-class senior center, and we would like to have a first-class bus to go along with it,” Paxton said.

Council member Steve Powell suggested the seniors look into other means of travel, such as chartering a bus, but Senior Center Director Barbara Roberts said that is what the seniors currently do for long trips, but it is not a viable option to continue that practice because it costs $600-800 per trip.

“It’s not feasible to charter a bus due to the expense,” Roberts said.

Council member Bill Meadows said he believes he can find a way to transfer leftover grant funds in the amount of $25,000 to help the seniors’ cause.

Meadows said he will present a resolution to transfer the funds at the July 12 council meeting.

The July 5 council meeting has been moved to July 12 due to the July 4 holiday.