Transportation service is needed for rural workers

    During a gathering of industrial leaders at Cuba City Hall for Manufacturing Day, a topic was brought up during the roundtable about a need for transportation for rural residents that might otherwise not have a good way of getting to work in our area towns. The need is especially serious, given that our area unemployment rate continues to drop, while industries are looking to expand.

    Throughout our area, not just in Cuba, we have industries that are seeking more workers. If you don’t live close to those employers, however, getting to work can sometimes be a problem. Why? Because those who need a job often don’t have a reliable car that can get them to work on a regular basis. So, even if they land a job, they might not be able to get to it every day because of their poor transportation, which they can’t address without having a job.
    It’s a catch-22, but it’s an issue we could address.
    We already have ride-sharing services and commuter parking lots operated by the Missouri Department of Transportation, but they are geared mainly at getting workers to our metropolitan areas. What we need here is a way to get people from places like Cherryville, Davisville, Cook Station, etc., to where the jobs are in Cuba, St. James, Steelville, Sullivan, and Rolla. We need a rural ride-sharing program.
    There could be any number of options for such a program. We already have ride-sharing programs for senior citizens and those needing to get to a doctor, that could possibly be expanded to get people to work. We have school buses running to virtually every area that might also be utilized. Our manufacturers might also considered forming and funding their own transportation program that could pick people up and drop them off at designated areas in our more remote communities. Or, if you’re looking to start a business of your own, perhaps you could start your own “ride to work Uber service.”
    Whatever the answer may be, there is clearly a need to get people to work when they are ready to work, willing to work, but just don’t have a way to get to work. Our local elected officials, industrial leaders, and state officials need to look at this problem and find a workable solution.

Gazebo must have handicapped access
    Now that the gazebo (or bandstand, if your prefer) has been demolished at the Crawford County Courthouse, there is a serious issue—handicapped accessibility—that needs to be addressed before any construction can begin on its replacement.
    According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all new construction must meet federal ADA requirements. Given that nearly all of the gazebo was demolished, except the roof, and a new foundation will be poured for its replacement, the gazebo project can’t be considered a remodel. It is clearly new construction. Had the gazebo simply been remodeled in place, it likely wouldn’t have needed to be handicapped accessible, since its primary function was not changing.
    Regardless of whether the gazebo was being rebuilt or replaced, why would any work be considered for it without taking into account handicapped accessibility? Do we not want handicapped veterans, musicians, speakers, or any others using it? Of course we do, and it must be made accessible for them.
    When the city of St. James built a bandstand in its downtown plaza a few years ago, it included a wonderful handicapped ramp, which actually brings users into the back of the stage. So, it not only provides handicapped access, but also offers a way to take musical equipment on and off the stage and provide other access without using the front stairs.
    If those planning the gazebo reconstruction haven’t considered handicapped access, then they had better do so before work begins because the requirements may not be easy to meet. If the rebuilt gazebo’s floor is just four feet off the ground, ADA specs will require 48 feet of ramp (1:12 max slope), along with landings (five feet minimum) at the top, middle, and bottom, and handrails.
    That means the entire ramp will be at least 63 feet long. It will be interesting to see how that is going to fit in the limited space where the old gazebo was located, but it is a much-needed addition.

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