LAKE PLACID - Two new transportation department positions in Essex County are being created with the assistance of federal grant funding.
Paul Wisher was hired for a new, full-time position as bus supervisor in the county. The position's duties include overseeing drivers, making bus schedules and operating a bus regularly. The salary was posted as $16.90 per hour.
Wisher previously worked at AuSable Valley Central School District from 1975 to 2011 as the supervisor of busing there.
Nancy Dougal, the Essex County transportation coordinator, said the county was awarded three grants totaling $408,341 in federal aid, and part of those funds will go to the new positions. For the first two years, until August 2015, 80 percent of the costs for the new position are funded through grants. The remaining 20 percent will be split between the village of Lake Placid and the county.
"We're doing a lot with the village and (Lake Placid Convention and) Visitors Bureau to make it work for everybody," Dougal said.
Dougal said the bus supervisor job will change a lot with the seasons, as the bus route changes. The position will be based out of Lake Placid, operating in the village's highway office.
Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said it looks like a good opportunity for the village and county.
"We have met him, and I think he will be a good addition," Randall said.
The county normally makes a part-time hire in December to help operate the Mountain Valley shuttle, according to Dougal. The shuttle offers transportation between Lake Placid and AuSable Forks and also takes skiers and snowboarders to and from Whiteface Mountain. It runs until March.
Also running through the village is the Lake Placid XPRSS bus service and the county Cascade Express bus service, which runs from Saranac Lake to Elizabethtown.
Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said the full-time position is needed because the county does not currently have adequate manpower.
"Since we took over the trolleys (in Lake Placid), it's been a lot of work," Douglas said, "more than we can handle on a regular basis.
"We are trying to connect the dots with all of our neighboring counties."
Douglas said his rule of thumb for grant funding is, if the grant goes away, the position, too, should go away. He hopes to ensure the county will receive another grant in two years to secure the position again without costing the taxpayers as much money.
The county will also hire a mobility trainer, a new position.
"They will go to schools and senior centers and teach people about riding the bus," Dougal said.
The mobility management program focuses its efforts on dispatching in the transportation office's call center, developing strategies to address unmet transportation needs and conduct surveys on public transit routes.