City council: ODOT grant would cover COVID-related transportation fares

By John Hamilton - [email protected]

WILMINGTON — Application for a grant covering COVID-related transportation fare in the city was approved by Wilmington City Council.

At Thursday’s meeting, council was presented with a resolution allowing the city to apply for the Ohio Rides to Community Immunity Program.

“This is a great opportunity for our citizens,” said Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker. “As the mayor has said many times before … we are very pro-getting vaccinated and this is an opportunity for our citizens to get a free ride for their vaccination.”

Transportation fares would be reimbursed through this grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

According to Shidaker, ODOT appropriated $7 million in Ohio to reimburse any transportation fare involving residents getting vaccinated between now and Dec. 31, 2022.

“The $7 million is for the whole state,” said City Administrator Marian Miller. “We’ve earmarked about $23,000 to $25,000 as what’s available to us.”

According to the resolution, the grant would also cover transportation fares for trips to testing sites and “other COVID-19 related.”

“I think this is an excellent opportunity. I know a lot of these fares are $1 or $2, but it adds up and it means a lot especially when you’re doing it for a good cause,” said Shidaker.

Councilmember Jonathan McKay asked how the city would be able to track the numbers. Larry Dale Bennington, the head of the city transit department, advised the city that they must to be careful with how they approach it.

Miller said they are going to work with Clinton County Health Commissioner Pamela Walker-Bauer and Clinton County Emergency Management Director Tom Breckel to create a plan.

“We want to (apply for the grant) very, very quickly so we don’t miss the opportunity with the mass vaccination site in Wilmington,” said Miller. “We just need to find some parameters that make it appropriate.”

By John Hamilton

[email protected]