By BARBARA JENSEN

Executive Director

Senior Center

of Finney County

Learn from Bonnie Burgardt, Finney County Transit director, about using the buses. Why can't we use the "Senior Center Buses" for field trips or day excursions anymore? This question has been posed by several senior citizens of late. Several years ago we were able to use the Mini Buses to take a bus to Ulysses for the Grant County Home Products Dinner or for an evening out looking at the holiday lights each December.

The Finney County Transit (FIT) buses are funded with Federal Section 5311 General Public Transportation grants that fund 50 percent of the operational expenses including fuel, insurance, repairs and maintenance, salaries, etc. The State of Kansas Transportation Department (KDOT) funds another 20 percent of our operational expenses. Our local match for the other 30 percent comes from Finney County and the city of Garden City. Each of the funders has specific purposes dictated with the funds they provide. The Federal Office of Inspector General is tasked with ensuring the 5311 funds are used for General Public Transportation, meaning you cannot use the vehicles for private charter-type trips. In years past, KDOT was able to be more lenient with providers about the use of our vehicles. For a variety of reasons they have been forced to mandate that charter trips such as those we used to make be eliminated from all of our operations statewide. Non-compliance risks losing the grant and all funds associated with it.

In addition to the stepped-up charter trip enforcement, we are using our buses now from 5 a.m., when our first shift drivers and dispatchers arrive at the FIT Center, until 8 p.m., when the last shift ends. The buses are running the City Link general public fixed routes and the complimentary ADA para-transit Mini Bus for those people with disabilities who cannot use the City Link fixed routes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The extended hours also have resulted in decreased life expectancy on our buses. We used to be able to run a Mini Bus for several years before we reached the magic mileage of 100,000 miles needed for replacement through KDOT. The City Link buses now reach that number in less than three years. Oil changes that used to occur every two to three months now happen twice a month on some buses due to the long days and hundreds of miles driven each day. By only using the buses for the necessary City Link and Mini Bus services we are able to extend the useful life of the buses.

Learn more about our buses and transportation next week.

Scheduled activities

Thursday: TOPS meet at 8:30 a.m., followed by the art class at 10 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m.

Friday: Line Dancing starts at 8:30 a.m., followed by STEPS at 10 a.m. St. Catherine Hospital has a nurse available from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. for blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks and other consulting. Bridge is played in the afternoon. Nutrition Council meets at 1 p.m.

Saturday: The pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m. The building is rented in the evening.

Sunday: Duplicate bridge meets in the afternoon.

Monday: Stretching exercises are at 8:30 a.m. STEPS begin at 10 a.m. Humdinger Band practices at 12:30 p.m. Double pinochle begins at 12:45 p.m. The Upbeats begin practice at 3 p.m. Duplicate bridge is at 7 p.m.

Tuesday: Pitch is played at 12:45 p.m., bingo at 1:30 p.m., bridge at 7 p.m., and open pool starts at 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 24: Foot clinic appointments are available by calling 272-3620. Completely Unraveled meets at 1 p.m. The dance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Note: The computer lab and pool room are open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also, new carpeting and tile are being installed in the Senior Center this month. Please excuse our mess during this time.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Baked ham, sweet potatoes, winter mix vegs with cheese sauce, pudding, wheat bread.

Friday: Baked fish or salisbury steak and gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, lime gelatin, wheat roll.

Monday: Chicken tetrazzini, sweet potatoes, green beans with pimento, citrus fruit, wheat roll.

Tuesday: Chuckwagon steak, potato wedge, tossed salad, apple crisp, wheat roll.

Feb. 24: Ham and beans or beef stew, stewed tomatoes, corn bread, peaches, brownies.

Check out the Senior Center Web site at www.seniorcenterfc.com.