Published DateBy Daymond Steer
TAMWORTH — The Blue Loon will be dropping coverage to Bartlett and Freedom because those towns didn't contribute $3,000 donations to the bus service's coffers. The service can be reinstated if those towns come up with the money.
The Blue Loon is a bus service run by Tri-County Community Action Program. During town meeting season, 13 towns were supposed to be asked to each contribute $3,000 toward the dial-a-ride program. Ten towns voted to approve the request. The other towns are Bartlett, Freedom and Eaton. Bartlett and Freedom will lose their service at the end of June.
"We were unable to gain enough signatures to get the warrant article on the ballot, so Bartlett and Freedom service area will be eliminated unless like last year, private donors are willing to bridge the gap by contributing $3,000," said Jack Rose, chairman of CAP's Transportation Action Committee. "Hopefully, we can be successful for them next year."
Last year, Conway voters rejected the Blue Loon's request but the town was covered by private donations.
Eaton, which was asked to support the Blue Loon's dial-a-ride program for the first time in 2013, isn't having the service taken away.
"They didn't lose it because they never had it," said Rose.
Bartlett's selectmen's chair Gene Chandler said the Loon's failure to get on the warrant had nothing to do with the town. CAP just didn't meet the deadlines for getting on the warrant. CAP could have gotten on the warrant by collecting enough signatures or convincing selectmen to put it on.
"They couldn't find 25 signatures so I'm not sure how well used it was," said Chandler.
Freedom selectmen's chair Les Babb said much the same thing as Chandler.
"It didn't get more than 16 signatures," said Babb.
The Loon didn't get the required signatures in Bartlett partly because the woman who was responsible for the petition in Bartlett didn't have enough time this year, said Rose.
Rose said a couple of petitions that were posted at a store in Freedom went missing.
Rose is looking for people with positive stories to tell about the Blue Loon. He would use the stories to promote the service and boost ridership.
Rose can be reached at 1-888-997-2020, Ext. 16.