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Boone County Commission President Eddie Hendricks and Commissioner Brett Kuhn accept a donation of 1,000 face masks from Tri River Transit Executive Director Paula Smith on Sept. 29.

BOONE COUNTY — Tri River Transit has donated 1,000 protective masks to Boone County to assist with the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Director Paula Smith spoke to the Boone County Commission during its regular session on Sept. 29 about the company, its work in the community and its contribution of the protective gear.

“We have 1,000 masks to give to you, to give to your community members or whoever you want to give them to as a way of saying thanks for all of the support that Boone County has given us along the way,” she said.

Celebrating its 20-year anniversary, the company has expanded its route in Boone County to include round-trips to Southridge from both Clothier and Wharton beginning on Oct. 12.

Through a state-funded opioid recovery grant, the company is providing citizens with transportation to treatment and recovery centers.

“The best thing about this service is that it is provided free of charge to whoever may need it,” Smith said.

Smith noted that COVID-19 has left Tri River Transit with a shortage of drivers, and the agency is accepting applications. The company serves citizens in Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mason and Wayne counties.

Smith noted that in relation to COVID-19, drivers wear masks and gloves on their routes and are partitioned with clear curtains from passengers to help protect both the passengers and the employee. Passengers are required to wear some type of face protection to use the service.

“We had to take money away from you guys a few years ago because we just didn’t have it anymore,” said Commission President Eddie Hendricks. “We all understand the value of what you do and believe me, it was very heart-wrenching for us, but we didn’t have it. I’m very pleased that you’ve been able to continue what you do despite the money crunches.”

In relation to recent changes in bus routes, the Whitesville to Southridge route will operate on Thursdays, but rides must be pre-scheduled by calling 304-824-2944. TRT will service Whitesville from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays. The Wharton & Clothier route will travel to Southridge from 6:50 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For a complete Boone County schedule or for more details, visit tririver.org.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry

@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.