2017-05-24 / News

Tuttle slams Ford for comments on bus proposal

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commission President Joel Tuttle took Commissioner Bob Ford to task last week for his comments about a proposed bus service for Morgan County.

Ford had discussed the idea for an on-demand bus in downtown Berkeley Springs with Commissioner Ken Reed during a May 3 meeting in which the two decided not to provide matching funds for a grant that would have helped get the bus service going.

Commissioner Tuttle recused himself from that discussion because he is on the Transportation Enhancement Committee that proposed the bus service, and is the Executive Director of Senior Life Services, which is seeking the grant to pay for vehicles, fuel and driver costs.

On Wednesday, May 17, Tuttle said he didn’t listen to the audiotape of that discussion, but did read Ford’s comments quoted in a Messenger article. He had left the room during the May 3 discussion about the grant and letter of support to remove himself from any decision-making.

“I took exception to the word ‘cockamamie’,” Tuttle told Ford.

He went on to say the bus service idea was not “poorly planned,” as Ford had said. Members of the transportation committee include Region 9 director Bill Clark, town councilman Chris Chapman, Audrey Morris of Starting Points Family Resource Center, the local DHHR director and several other local leaders, said Tuttle.

He told Ford that the group had talked with the Eastern Panhandle Transit Authority and Potomac Highlands Transportation Authority about their models of bus service, and the state’s Division of Public Transportation before drafting the bus service plan.

“There was plenty of planning,”

Tuttle said.

Ford said he still has a problem with the county giving funds for services that don’t serve the entire county. He said people in Paw Paw, Cherry Run and South Morgan need transportation, too.

Tuttle said Senior Life Services does provide transportation to seniors and Medicaid clients all across Morgan County, including those areas.

“Half of the grant was for that. If you call me from Cherry Run, we’ll go get you,” said Tuttle.

“We’ll do it without your help,” he told Ford. “I delivered the grant on Monday without a letter of support.”

Ford said he was sorry if he offended Tuttle with his choice of words.

“But I’m not going to back away from it. It just looks like a glorified taxi service,” he said.

“Doesn’t Morgan County need a glorified taxi service?” Tuttle asked. “All these people that need rides are upset.”

Ford asked if the bus service was part of the Senior Life Services, and represented a conflict of interest for Tuttle.

“It’s a conflict for me, not you,” Tuttle said.

“Have you ever been to the senior center? Do you even know what’s going on there?” Tuttle asked Ford. Ford said he didn’t think he had been there.

The bus service being proposed would be available between the senior center and the DHHR offices south of Berkeley Springs and points in between. Riders would call and request a ride, and pay a $2 fee each way. The proposed service is expected to run during business hours at first, but could expand hours or routes later, committee members have said.

Return to top

How about someone start an

How about someone start an Uber?!?!

How about someone start an

How about someone start an Uber?!?!

Yeah Joel - so glad you spoke

Yeah Joel - so glad you spoke up. I know how hard everyone on the team worked to bring about such a well done, logical and badly needed service for the people of Morgan County. There is nothing glorified about it - what a misfit word to use to describe a plan to make limited transportation available to residents who need it.