New Scotland accepts donations for senior bus as it awaits word on $90K state grant

— From Senator Michelle Hinchey’s Office
New Scotland Senior Outreach Liaison Deb Engel, shown here receiving an award for her work supporting the town’s seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, is at it again. This time Engel has applied for a $90,000 grant from New York State to help pay for a new bus for the town’s senior citizens.

NEW SCOTLAND — As the town waits hear back from New York State on its grant application for a new bus for its senior citizens, Linda Martin of Karie Jean’s Closet, a charity shop in Voorheesville, has already stepped up with a $3,000 donation to help cover the cost of New Scotland’s $18,000 required contribution. 

The donation was “just so generous,” said Deb Engel, New Scotland’s senior outreach liaison. “I mean, it actually brought tears to my eyes, because they realize how much our seniors need this.”

Engel said she was told her state application is still in the running, but hasn’t heard anything about a final award. “It should be within the next few weeks,” she said when asked about when a decision would be made. 

The grant itself is through the Department of Transportation’s 5310 program for seniors and individuals with disabilities. It requires a 20-percent local share match, or $18,000 in the case of New Scotland.

Engel said she was told that, before any state money would be granted, New Scotland would have to come up with 20 percent of the cost of the new $90,000 bus and hand it over to the state. 

The town has said it would come up with the $18,000, according to Engel.

At its September meeting, the town board passed a resolution allowing New Scotland to accept private donations — which it would hold for no more than two years — to pay for the town’s share of the bus.

The current senior bus has seen better days. 

“We’re trying to salvage it so that we can continue to use it,” Engel said. 

It’s being worked on again; the exhaust system rusted out, she said. 

The bus is from 2009 and has about 50,000 miles on it, Engel said. 

About $1,900 was paid for repairs this past winter, and Engel has yet to receive an estimate for the current work. The air-conditioning also needs work, Engel said, but she’s not going to worry about that until next year. 

“The seniors need to have this socialization,” Engel said; she tries to get the bus out for a trip at least once a week.

The Wyman Osterhout Community Center also hosts a well-attended weekly lunch for seniors on Wednesdays that relocates to Saint Matthew’s in Voorheesville on Thursdays. (The menus are published weekly in The Enterprise.)

As for the new $90,000 bus, Engel said it would seat 12 passengers and two wheelchairs along with a driver. And it would take a year to build; she started the process in March. 

Besides the $3,000 from Karie Jean’s Closet, Engel said she hasn’t raised any other money because she’s waiting for clarification on what she can and can’t do.

“Is that part of my job to be a fundraiser … How does that part work?” Engel asked. 

She’s had people who’ve said they’d “be glad to donate,” but she hasn’t pursued it yet in part because she’s waiting to hear back from the state on the grant and isn’t clear on her own role. 

Asked about what she’ll do if she doesn’t receive the grant, Engel said she’s thought about the situation. Another round of grant-funding opens in November, she said, and she’s asked the town about a lease-to-buy situation with a bus; she’s waiting to hear back on that one.

“I think they want to wait to see about this grant,” she said of the town’s lack of response.

“One way or another I’m gonna get a bus,” Engel said. “It may not be today or tomorrow. But before I retire, we’re getting a bus.” And in the meantime, she’s happy to accept unsolicited donations.

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