By Kellen M. Quigley

Those who utilize the town of Concord’s senior van will see some changes being implemented now as to what the van can be used for and who can use it.

With the recent retirement of Denise Ciszak, who used to do the schedule for the van, duties have been transferred over to the senior center and director Eleanor Eschborn.

“Denise has an amazing memory and she knew where everybody went and everything else,” said Town Supervisor Clyde Drake. “Now we have a new set of eyes looking at it. Eleanor is a very practical person and she’s trying to lump the rides together best she can.”

One thing Drake said there have been issues with in the past is people using the van for rides to the airports in Buffalo or Niagara Falls. He said people will sign up for a ride to the airport three months in advance, and then when people need the van for medical appointments, it’s already taken.

Drake noted that there are no parameters on whether people who take the van to the airport are low income and need the ride or if they can afford transportation another way.

“Eleanor and I suggesting at this point we stop taking rides to the airport because we’ve just had people running back and forth,” he said. “Also with that, we’ve had trouble with Rural Transit Van Service only being open certain days of the week.”

A meeting was expected to take place earlier this month with Drake, Eschborn, Springville Mayor Bill Krebs and other local representatives with Rural Transit about the trouble Concord and Springville have had using that service.

“We’re hoping to lay our cards on the table and see what we can do about getting more volunteers,” he said.

In relation to the town’s senior van, Drake said when people can’t get ahold of Rural Transit, they call the town to use the van. He said it’s hard to take someone to Walmart in Springville when the van is going back and forth to Buffalo so often.

“There were people being taken to other towns to go to the drug store,” he said. “We have a drugstore right here in town.”

Both Eschborn and Drake have prepared a list of guidelines necessary to have a better handle on the van.

“We’re going to put as number one is medical appointments,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Eschborn is going through the senior van registrations and trying to update the records, Drake said. He said they have found several names of people using the van who never registered with the town.

“We’ve found people we’re giving rides to people who live in a nursing home in another town and they’re getting picked up,” he said. “That’s why she has on here you must be currently living in the town of Concord.”

Councilman Phil Drozd said the intended use for the van originally was for medical, dental and outpatient services for seniors.

“I don’t think we should provide any service to any nursing home, long-term care facility nor will any person be picked up from or taken to any hospital, ER or urgent care facility for any form of emergency care,” he said. “That van is not equipped nor do we have the personnel on there.”

Drozd suggested that the guidelines page should have more detailed language and be tightened up.

“If we can start limiting the miles on the van, that’s how much longer it will last,” Drake said, noting that the van already has nearly 100,000 miles on it and it’s only two years old. “Until we can get Rural Transit back up to speed, that’s going to help us with local things here. … We’ll get there, but it might be a little painful in the process.”