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KAT officials entertain using bus shelter in downtown Willmar as community billboard

WILLMAR -- Willmar's new downtown bus shelter could eventually serve as a community billboard.

Electronic message boards that operate on three sides of the Becker Bus Station, located at Becker Avenue and Fourth Street Southwest, will be available to advertise community functions, according to a preliminary policy reviewed Tuesday by the Kandiyohi Area Transit's operations board.

Board member Kevin Halliday said the board may establish a "pecking order" for who would have priority to claim space and time on the message board, which runs along the top of the new brick and glass bus shelter.

Under the preliminary policy, KAT information, including information about bus arrivals, would be posted first, followed by governmental announcements, community events, downtown Willmar events, and fundraisers, nonprofit and other paid advertising.

Besides providing a public service, the announcements would generate revenue for KAT, Halliday said. "There's an opportunity there to bring in a few dollars. We'll see how that works."

The cost for the ads still needs to be worked out.

The board is also considering restructuring the duties of the operations manager.

Tiffany Collins, who had held that position, was named transit director after John Groothuis resigned.

Collins proposes that some duties be divvied to other department heads. They would receive a slight pay hike. The new operations coordinator would then have fewer duties and less pay.

If the changes are adopted, KAT could see about $7,000 a year in savings.

Although KAT's ridership and revenues are strong, there's concern that contributions from communities in the counties may decrease this year. Towns, like New London and Spicer, contribute money to KAT, which provides services to the towns, serving especially elderly residents.

Collins said she's communicating with communities about the service KAT provides to encourage them to maintain their contribution level.

In other action Tuesday:

- The board was informed an attorney will be consulted to determine if there are any unpaid claims against the new bus shelter. An individual representing a subcontractor told the joint powers board last month that the contractor, Gopher State Contractors, had not made a final payment to him. He had asked KAT to intervene. Collins said Gopher State has indicated there are no outstanding claims.

- A revised personnel policy was approved that provides additional vacation time for longtime employees.

- Discussions are beginning on how to celebrate KAT's 10th anniversary. KAT began July 1, 1999.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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