County purchasing van to transport veterans

Bartholomew County officials have approved the purchase of a 12-passenger van that will be used to transport veterans for medical appointments in Indianapolis.

A bid for $31,500 from Bob Poynter Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Hyundai of Columbus was accepted unanimously Monday by the Bartholomew County commissioners. The Poynter bid, selected over three others, met the county’s specifications, commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

Funding needed to purchase the 2018 van is coming from the Veterans Service Office’s budget approved by the Bartholomew County Council, said Tom Crawford, Bartholomew County Veterans Services officer.

The new van will replace a four-passenger Ford Escape owned by the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis and the Disabled American Veterans Association that has been used to make medical appointment trips from Columbus to Indianapolis.

Crawford, whose office arranged transportation appointments last year for 300 veterans, said the van should allow the county to build up its pool of volunteer drivers after the county’s remaining volunteer driver indicated he would not renew his federal certification mandated for volunteer drivers using the Veterans Administration vehicle.

Crawford told commissioners that his department made 145 trips to the Roudebush VA center last year, including for 122 new applicants.

The new van, which will come equipped with moving boards to help veterans get into the vehicle easier, is expected to arrive within four weeks, Kleinhenz said.

“It will give us the ability to manage our transport in-house,” he said.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com