County approves getting back into Trailblazer

by John Holler
Correspondent
Transportation service in Wright County has been in flux for several years since Sherburne County announced it was pulling out of a joint transportation service with Wright County known as River Rider. At the Dec. 12 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, the issue came full circle, as the board approved getting back into the public transit business.
When the River Rider program fell apart, Wright County was strongly encouraged by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to get into a regional transit program, the closest being Trailblazer, which serves Sibley and McLeod counties. When the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on funding costs and representation on the Trailblazer board of directors, the county opted out.
Several cities in Wright County stepped up to fill the void, creating an organization called Wright County Area Transit (WCAT) to join Trailblazer, but it was cost prohibitive for cities to pay their share of the operating expenses. It took almost a year of debating and negotiating, but Wright County had everything in place to join Trailblazer as a full member, thanks in part to long and arduous work by Commissioner Darek Vetsch, who championed the program at the county board level.
“After many months, phone calls and many meetings, I am happy to present the finalized JPA (Joint Powers Agreement) for Wright County Area Transportation with the addition of Wright County,” Vetsch said. “It has been passed by 98 percent. Waverly will be the last voting tonight. That will put us to 100 percent and brings it to us and the board to see if we can finalize this and move forward as a county having a share of the operations in Trailblazer.”
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