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Back in the early “80s” the late Bob Summers of Hillsboro heard that the Area IV Council on Aging in Lafayette was expanding a program to furnish a means of transportation to smaller towns in Indiana. He contacted two of his close friends, the late Gerald Dotson and Gordon Foster, all of Hillsboro. Together, they contacted the council for information and within a few months, Bob was notified that a 15-passenger Dodge Van was available for pick-up in Lafayette. It was to reside in Hillsboro, but it was to include Hillsboro, Mellott, Newtown, Veedersburg, Wallace, Wingate and Waynetown.
Thelma Furr of Hillsboro gave the service its name of Reach Out Community Van. Furr also became the president of the van board and was a great asset. The use was pretty much unlimited to the places it was allowed to go. It even went to Colorado for a ski trip and was gone for several days. Furr got the support of the town board and got permission to park the van in the bank parking lot.
After roughly 10 years, this van was replaced by another 15-passenger van with a turtle top so you could stand fairly upright inside. It was becoming more and more difficult to get board members and the other towns that the van was to serve really never got involved, so it became known as the Hillsboro Reach Out Community van. The use of the van was declining as well.
Fast forward to 2012 when it was replaced by the current van. This new van had about the same seating capacity, but was more like the white school bus from Fountain Central that is seen in town quite often. This van came with a wheel chair lift as well and was much larger. However, this van had a gasoline engine and got poor gas mileage, making it to expensive for the people who wanted to use it. The end was in sight when it was mandated by the Indiana Department of Transportation that we were no longer allowed to cross any state lines. It also involved so much more driver training that it was almost impossible to find drivers who were willing to do the training. It was also more difficult to get people to be on the board.
The Boy Scouts and a couple of churches were the only users and it would sit for weeks at a time. Finally, in September of this year, the board was notified that the service would end effective on the day we were informed. The current board wishes to thank everyone who served in anyway for the 30 years we were given the use of this valuable tool for the aged.
The current acting president, Pam Glascock, does not want to leave out anyone, so her thanks go to Sherry Foster, secretary, Diane Cutts, treasurer, Nina Nixon, transportation director, and any current or past board members who served over the life of the Reach Out Community Van and to the Area IV Council On Aging.
Gordon W. Foster