Letters Transit bus is a godsend

To the editor:

Urban sprawl has caught up with Vermillion! If you live on the golf course it is a long walk to a grocery, or to school, the drug store, church or your workplace. If you live on Broadway it is a long walk to Gateway. Of course! You drive! But some are too little, to young, too old, too disabled to drive, or too poor to have two cars for two workers.

South Dakota is quite a big state to have so little public transportation, but it is working on it, and Vermillion is fortunate to have an agency like the Southeast Transit (SET) working hard to fulfill all the needs of so many different groups. If you see an empty bus it has probably just let off a full load for the daily balanced nutrition lunch at the Senior Citizens Center. Or it is on its way to pick up school children to transport them to the new day care center at the old golf course for after school programs until mother or father gets home from work. They have to be on time to transport the many disabled who can work and be somewhat independent if they can get to their jobs and get home safely.

The dedicated drivers and dispatchers greet riders with a smile; help them on and off; carry their groceries or other purchases in for them, and have even been known to do a little necessary snow shoveling!

Many business managers might think it would be wonderful to not have to make a profit, but this non-profit managerial group can't just raise fares when necessary to break even. They operate with the help of some state and local subsidies and have to scramble to get skilled drivers at a tight salary scale who will give service beyond the usual driver duties.

Good handicap buses are really prizes and have to be begged for; and sometimes not so new ones break down. Formerly, people needing to get to a doctor or dentist sometimes had to ride 40 minutes or more with regularly scheduled passengers. The addition of a third bus was a godsend and now they try to answer all the regular riders' needs but also be available for sudden emergencies.

It is a struggle on a shoestring to develop such a many-sided program. Riders do pay, of course, but can quickly be priced off. Often the more they need the service the harder it may be to pay for it. The county residents have not been included and the management would like to extend the service to them when possible.

Doctors send the old, the sick, and crippled for skilled treatment to Yankton, Sioux City, or Sioux Falls, and it is a scramble for them to find their own transportation. Service to the airports is another real need, but the expert transit managers can only crunch the numbers and dream.

Vermillion could and may be a great retirement community, but retirement often means no more driving and the town will have to encourage and support the efforts of the very professional SET staff to show older residents they can enjoy a good retirement right here.

Sioux Falls offers a free ride down one street, but Vermillion's Main Street would not serve a crippled rider on an icy day eight blocks away. The bus system can only be a developing program as the public supports its struggle and gives it the means to add services.

Keep helping, keep planning, keep proud. We're gaining!

Kathleen Block


Naming bridge is waste of time

To the editor:

As an old, self-motivated family genealogist and historian, I will comment upon the naming of the Vermillion-Newcastle Bridge. Why does anyone want to name this (or any) bridge?

When the Springfield-Running Water Bridge was built, I thought is was stupid to give it a name. (Whatever that name was.) After all, it WAS already the Springfield-Running Water Bridge, due to its location. I think it is just as stupid now to give this bridge a name. Just as South Dakotans, and Nebraskans I expect, call the bridge at Yankton the Yankton Bridge, or Meridian Bridge, because of its location, so I'm sure South Dakotans call the western bridge the Springfield Bridge, and Nebraskans call it the Running Water Bridge (or the Niobrara Bridge?)

Just so, South Dakotans will call this the Vermillion Bridge, and Nebraskans will call it the Newcastle Bridge. (Or, why not the "Wynot Bridge," or the "Bow Valley Bridge?" Which ever is up to the Nebraskans to develop through use.)

Giving this (or any) new (or old) bridge an "official" name, whatever it may be, is just a waste of time, thought, effort, and money. Any official name, other than Vermillion-Newcastle, will be ignored by users, and by all except those with the wild idea that it has to have a special or famous name.


Lester R. Lauritzen


P.S. To "wave a red flag" in front of another "mad bull," and being somewhat consistent, I also disapprove of naming public buildings after people. Public buildings should be just the county courthouse, city hall, city library, city grade school, city high school, city or state college, etc. Also, I disapprove of sports teams using nicknames. They should use the city or school name only. (And, no, I see nothing wrong with using "Indian" names if teams must be given a nickname.)

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