Laketran's 40th Anniversary Gala and Grand Visionary Awards
Our second event was took us to Lake County for Laketran's 40th Anniversary Gala and Grand Visionary Awards. Laketran was started in 1974 as a small local service to help those of ill health get to their doctor appointments but over the years it has grown into a local public transportation system with a special emphasis on providing services to the elderly and the sick. The event was organized by the Friends of Laketran which works along with the consulting firm of Burges and Burges to pass tax levies which aid in the funding. In November, 2013 a renewal tax levy was passed by a large margin to fund Laketran with a quarter of 1% sales tax which accounts for 60% of Laketran's operating budget. During the program, Mr. Kevin Malecek, President of the Laketran Board of Trustees, complimented the people of Lake County for being willing to pay more in taxes to help others because they realize that the services of Laketran might be needed someday by a friend, family member of themselves. Prior to the program we spoke to Ms. Donna McNamee who is involved both with Laketran and the Friends of Laketrans who told us that passage of the levies was indeed important due to the state and federal budget cuts. in fact, the proceeds from this particular event would go towards financing the next levy campaign which hopefully will not be for several more years. At this program, people were honored who have contributed to the success of Laketran over the years like the Lake County Commissioners who initially approved it in 1974, Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy who obtained state funding when he was in the Ohio state legislature as did former U.S. Congressmen Dennis E. Eckart and Steven C. LaTourette with federal funding. We spoke for a few minutes with Ms. Alice Demeter who accepted an award for the Western Junior Service League who raised $20,000 in 1973-1974 which helped to pay for the Laketran's first motor vehicle which was dubbed "the little bus that cares" whose purpose was to drive cancer patients to Cleveland for treatments that were not available in Lake County at that time. We talked to Judge Colleen Falkowski (and took her RSVP info for our holiday party) and Ohio State Representative John Rogers who was recently re-elected. Ms. Julia Schick, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, posed for a photo with Ms. Lindsay Cherry who is a developer at Blackbird Interactive which designed Laketran's website. Mr. Andy Altenweg, Laketran's Deputy General Manager, invited us out for a tour and we might take him up on it. We sat with Mr. Dick and Ms. Diane Mahoney who both work for Halycon Psychological Services in Mentor; Ms. Karen Tercek of the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce; and our friend, Mr. Dave Gilmer of the Lake County Development Council. And, throughout the evening, we had a running dialogue with Ms. Maureen Bierer of the Human Resources Division at Laketran who filled us in on Laketran's history and important people that we should speak with. By all accounts it seems that Laketran is a success and a real asset to the Lake County Community. It currently has over 100 motor vehicles in its fleet and transported 785,000 passengers in 2013. According to its website,Laketran was recognized by the American Public Transit Association for Outstanding Achievement for a small system in 2000 and again in 2005. The agency has also consistently been awarded recognition for excellence in financial budgeting. Ms. Becky Maruschak rides Laketran all of the time. She would not be able to get to her job at the Goodwill in Painesville without it. When we asked her what she thought of the service provided by Laketran, she said that it was "rockin' awesome service!"