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Neligh's Dial-A-Ride is celebrating a big milestone with 40 years of service this year.
More than 25 people attended an open house in Neligh's City Council Chambers on Thursday morning as part of the Public Transit Week activities.
Those attending the open house included past and present drivers, city council members, city officials, members of the business community and representatives from UNO who collaborate with the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
City council member Ted Hughes thanked those in attendance and recognized them for their service to the Dial-A-Ride program.
"We appreciate your patronage for 40 years," City Clerk Dana Klabenes said. "Let's keep it rolling."
The Dial-A-Ride service began in Neligh in August of 1978 when Elaine Hamm was the city clerk and it was operated through a separate board with Mary Schwager serving as the transit administrator, Klabenes said.
Hamm said the very first Dial-A-Ride driver was Floyd Varn of Elgin.
"Dial-A-Ride was free through a grant, there was no cost to us," she said. "I can still see those buses when they brought them. They were huge."
Hamm said it began as a county-wide service before the City of Neligh took over the program. A contest was held to name the service. She said Jane Ruterbories of Neligh received $25 for the name "Dial-A-Ride."
One of her favorite memories of Dial-A-Ride was a dispatch call she received at the city office.
"One time I got a call and the man said, 'I see your bus and it says to call 887-4225, and I need a ride to Boys Town.' I told him we don't travel that far," Hamm said smiling as she recalled the memory. "As it turns out, we had sent two or three employees to Omaha for training, and before his last day, Nate Metschke confessed that he had made that call while he was there for training. He used to work for the park in the summer."
She said the program "wouldn't do you any good if you didn't have good drivers," and Neligh has been fortunate enough to have some great drivers over the years. Current drivers are Jack Conger, Gordy Hagge, Kathy Heckert and Rachel Shrader. Two of the past drivers also attended the open house, Dave Detlefsen and Leroy Clarkson.
Clarkson said he "just enjoyed driving, being around people and helping people."
Hamm said when the program began, she hoped it would be around for a long time.
"I just hoped it would be there when I needed it," she said. "I have used it. It's a good service."
The Dial-A-Ride service is available 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. The cost is $1 for a one-way trip. Call 887-4225 to schedule a ride, 24-hour notice is appreciated.
The service is often used for children going to and from school, rides to the grocery store, hospital, hair appointments, bank, doctor's appointments, or even Sunday church services (call by Friday at 4 p.m. to schedule). Dial-A-Ride has the capability to help residents with mobility devices such as wheel chairs or walking devices.