LOWVILLE — With a new approach to keeping revelers safe on New Year’s Eve, the Lewis County Emerging Professionals made sure the “safe bus” organized to loop around the county, including to the Roaring 2020s Gala, ran despite losing funding at the last minute, an initiative law enforcement saw as a good step toward safety.
Originally, the $350 cost of the bus was to be paid by the county to the public transportation department, but that offer was pulled at the last minute due to concern by some legislators that not all taxpayers would want their funds used for such a service.
The Professionals decided to cover the expense anyway.
“It was a great addition to the event,” said event co-organizer Brittany Davis of the Lewis County Emerging Professionals. “We understand we couldn’t accommodate everyone with the route, but the comments were positive and it was the responsible thing to do.”
She also said she appreciated the transportation department’s work setting up the route and finding a driver able and willing to work that holiday.
Although Sheriff Michael Carpinelli said he could understand not all taxpayers wanting to pay for the bus, he said he believed it was a good thing.
“Anything that keeps people safe and prevents higher insurance rates down the line and keeps people from doing something they’ll regret later, I’m all for it,” Sheriff Carpinelli said.
Going forward, he suggested a plainclothes officer or security person should be on the bus, in case of any issue.
The new head of the county’s STOP-DWI initiative, Matt Morrow, said efforts like the safe bus he’s seen through his research into the STOP-DWI program are often very effective.
“I think it’s a great idea and if it’s something that could continue we’d love to get involved,” Mr. Morrow said.
The bus made northern and southern loops around the county, picking people up and dropping them off for free to a number of popular restaurants, bars and central locations.
The two most popular stops were the gala at Tug Hill Vineyards and the Edge Hotel in Lyons Falls on the southern loop, said Emerging Professionals board member Ryan Piche.
Tom Spaulding of State Farm Insurance, contributed the $1 fare for the 34 people that made use of the bus service.
The gala surpassed the Professionals’ goal of 100 attendees with about 130 people at the event, which raised about $4,000 for the Renee Beyer-United Way Fund.
The roaring 20s theme was also a hit, Mrs. Davis said.
“Everyone dressed up in 20s attire and we had people from 21 years old to senior citizens attend.”
The Gala was jointly organized by the Lewis County Emerging Professionals and Doubleplay Community Center with sponsorship from Tug Hill Vineyards and Carthage Savings and Loan.