Statistics & News

Cook receives new post

Effective May 23, Rachel Cook will assume the role of Dispatcher/Scheduling Supervisor at Fulton County Transit Authority.

Cook was named FCTA’s Lead Dispatcher on August 2, 2020.

“Mrs. Cook has excelled in the role of Lead Dispatcher and has the ability to take on a new role,” said FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton. “She will be a great asset for us in this role here. I think she has a promising future at FCTA.”

Cook is a graduate of Fulton City High School. The daughter of Teresa Decker, Cook is the wife of Brandon Cook. They have one son, Noah.

“I have talked about wanting to further my career here since I was given the Lead Dispatcher position,” Cook said. “I am beyond grateful to Mr. Kenney and FCTA for putting so much faith in me. Fulton County Transit has been family to me since I started so being able to witness and assist it grow means a lot to me. Our office staff and Dispatch team have definitely made my role here enjoyable. I am very excited to see where we go from here and how much I get to learn in the future.”

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Rachel Cook was named Fulton County Transit Authority's Lead Dispatcher in 2020. She has been promoted to Dispatcher/Scheduling supervisor.

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Rates have changed

In a world that seems to be consistently changing, Fulton County Transit Authority has ironically made few changes – operational or otherwise - in its 37 years of “going and coming your way.”

Beginning April 1, a significant change will happen at FCTA when rates are raised for the first time in more than 20 years.

“Although we’ve been very fortunate with federal funding over the last year throughout the (COVID-19) pandemic, we have to look to the future,” explained FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton. “We know someday this will end. The money we’ve been able to procure through grants will go away.”

COVID-19 wasn’t the start of a conversation about raising rates.

“We actually began discussions on raising rates a year before the pandemic,” Etherton said. “The pandemic virtually ended the discussions and the Board of Directors postponed making the decision.”

A public hearing that was originally scheduled in the midst of the statewide closure in March due to COVID-19 was postponed until October 27 and held via Zoom.

“We decided then to move ahead with the rate increase,” Etherton said. “We can’t balance our budget off of grant dollars. We have to have a host of ways to bring in revenue to fund our match of the grants.”

During a special called meeting via Zoom on December 3, 2020, Etherton requested guidance from the FCTA Board of Directors on moving forward with the rate increase. Mike Gunn made a motion to go ahead with the rate increase and gave an April 1, 2021, date for the increase to begin. Sandy Bellew seconded the motion, and the motion was then approved by the board.

In reality, proceeds from rates are actually a small portion of FCTA’s overall revenue.

“We looked at this from the avenue of trying to simplify our rates, first of all, and become more user friendly,” Etherton explained. “There are winners and losers in this rate increase. Some will have a cheaper rate and some will have a little bit higher rate. We need to be balanced and fair.”

Included in the rate increase are some new rides with set amounts that were not available in the past.

“We’ve added some areas in the rates that I think we were missing rides on and, honestly, where rates were too high when we transported clients to these areas. Now it’s on a more economical rate.”

The Ride to Work program, the latest addition to the FCTA operations, has been updated to include more offerings, too.

“We’ve created a cross-county fare with the Ride to Work program with this as well,” Etherton added.

The overall rate increase will simply help keep FCTA “going and coming your way.”

“At the end of the day, we haven’t raised our rates in over 20 years except for a small tweak here and there,” Etherton emphasized. “For us to be sustainable in the future, this is a small part of one of many things that we have to do.”

FCTA proudly serves Fulton, Hickman, Graves, and Carlisle counties. #TeamTransit

New station nearing a reality

More good news has been delivered to the Fulton County area by Amtrak.

“We have begun the process to get Fulton the new station we promised,” said Derrick James, Senior Manager of Government Affairs for Amtrak. “Right now, we’re selecting from our on-call team of design firms. Throughout the summer we will review the designs as it advances through several phases (30%/60%/90%/100%). Once a design if finalized we’ll go out for bid for construction.”

If all flows smoothly, James said, construction could begin in November and be completed 9-10 months later.

According to James, the project will encompass a new, enclosed, climate-controlled station building with unisex restroom, and a 750’ long,12’ wide, lighted, passenger boarding platform.

Locally raised funds are still in consideration for utilization in the project.

“We had discussed using locally raised funds for enhancement of our project, items that we’re not allowed to spend funds on,” James explained. “Our work will all take place on CN ROW, but we could certainly use a marquee sign out on Highway 51 to highlight the location of the station. This location is not on property we have access to. We could use Fulton County’s support for such an initiative.”

Fulton County Transit Authority Executive Director Kenney Etherton, who has been the most recent leader of a grassroots effort to get a new station built, was ecstatic about the news about a tentative construction start date.

“In spite of a pandemic, we can still put good news out,” Etherton said. “Our Amtrak project is progressing. I am now looking forward to the design and construction phases to begin.”

City Manager Mike Gunn echoed the elation generated by the news. “I know the community has heard it before, but I am excited to finally have an anticipated start date for construction of the new Amtrak station here in the City of Fulton. Just be patient,” Gunn said. “Having one of our transportation partners committed to providing the community a new station by 2022 is such great news. I can’t wait for the design to be completed and construction to begin in November.”

With Fulton being one of only four stops in the Commonwealth for Amtrak service, Gunn feels the new station will only enhance connectivity to the rest of the country for the city as well as Kentucky. The new station will also be a good tribute to Fulton’s railroad history.

“In the past, Fulton was one of those great American stops,” Gunn said. “My hope is that this train station will let us reflect on our past and look toward the future. Hopefully the new station will be a part of the catalyst the community needs as it seeks to expand its appeal as a place to invest in and cultivate civic pride.”

Having a new station will also reflect Fulton's desire to positively embrace those who travel here.

“A train station is often the first impression of a community for visitors coming to stay or simply passing through,” Gunn explained. “Fulton wants to make that good impression. I am extremely proud of all the effort that has made getting a new Amtrak station here a reality.

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Sgt. Tyler Nolan of the Fulton Police Department and FCTA Meals Driver Joey Griffith deliver a meal to a Fulton resident recently.

Teamwork gets seniors a hot meal

  According to an old saying, “teamwork makes the dream work.” In Fulton County, teamwork gets things done.

  Thanks to a partnership between local law enforcement, the Senior Citizens of Fulton County and Fulton County Transit Authority, 72 trips were made to deliver hot meals and warm visits to some local seniors Thursday.

  While watching a newscast on TV earlier this week, Capt. Allen Poole of the Fulton Police Department saw a segment about an area having difficulty delivering meals to senior citizens during the inclement weather that has almost shut down western Kentucky for more than a week. This broadcast made Poole wonder about the seniors in Fulton County.

  “I called Kenney (Etherton, FCTA Executive Director) and offered for us to help,” Poole said referring to himself and other members of FPD,

  Following Poole’s call, Etherton contacted Sandra Bolin, the interim director of Senior Citizens of Fulton County, and the duo came up with a plan to deliver meals on Thursday. Etherton also talked with two of FCTA’s meal drivers who didn’t hesitate to play a part in Thursday’s venture as well.

  “This is teamwork on the part of local officials,” Etherton exclaimed. “This is one of the great things about living in a small community. We have caring people.”

  Also joining in the meal delivery effort were Fulton County Sheriff Derek Goodson, Fulton County Deputy Dennis McDaniel and Sgt. Tyler Nolan and School Resource Officer T.J. Kirby from the Fulton Police Department. Goodson, McDaniel, and Kirby helped FCTA Driver Mickey Brockwell with delivery in Hickman while Poole and Nolan worked with FCTA Driver Joey Griffith in Fulton.

  According to Bolin, the last hot meal that had been delivered from the Senior Citizens of Fulton County’s center in Hickman was on February 9.

  “I’d been pacing the floor at home wishing we could do something for them,” Bolin admitted.  “I was worried about them. We had been calling and checking on them, making sure they had food. Family and churches have helped get them ready for this because we knew it was coming. We just never thought it would get so bad here.”

  In the three years she has served as interim director, Bolin said this was the longest that the senior center has been closed and the worst weather the area has seen in that time period.

  Because Bolin lives on the “third layer of hills,” as she described it, Hickman Police Chief Tony Grogan drove her to the senior center to get the meals ready for delivery Thursday. Senior Citizens of Fulton Cook Valeria Buskirk has a four-wheel drive vehicle and drove herself in to work.

After Buskirk got the meal prepared, she and Bolin placed the food into divided containers and sealed them for delivery.

  “I think this was wonderful,” Bolin said of Thursday’s delivery project. “We sent out hot meals and shelf-life meals so we wouldn’t have to have the danger of doing it tomorrow after everything ices over tonight.”

  In all, 72 stops were made to deliver the senior meals in the Hickman and Fulton area. The deliveries are counted by trips rather than number of meals, Bolin explained.  Around 11 a.m. Thursday, Poole said the team effort was going really well.

  “The last lady we visited said she was surprised we were there,” Poole added. “I took another lady’s trash out for her.”

  For Poole, joining in with this team effort was all a part of the police motto: “To Protect and To Serve.”

  “We are just here to do what is right for the elderly and, with times like this, we want to play our part,” Poole said. “We have the ability and want to extend a hand whenever we can. It’s good to see these shut-ins, too, and check on them. Some of them don’t have family around and don’t have any contacts in the area.

  “We could always add it to our duty to do welfare checks on them and help them out,” Poole added. “We are proud to be able to serve this community and they’ve been grateful to us. We are grateful for them.”

  As COVID-19 has changed many things across the United States, it has changed requirements for senior meals as well. According to Bolin, the requirements to qualify for meal delivery during COVID is basically the person must be over 60 and unable to drive. Those seniors who can drive can pick up meals from the senior centers in Hickman and Fulton.

  “We have drive by pickups when there is not snow on the ground,” Bolin added.

  By definition, shelf-life meals, Bolin explained, are easy to prepare items the seniors can handle themselves. Thursday’s shelf-life meal consisted of a container of microwaveable beef stew, crackers, fruit, and juice to drink.

  According to Bolin, a Commonwealth dietician sends menus for spring, summer, fall, and winter. The six-week menu provides all the nutrition the seniors need for a week. Thursday’s hot meal was prepared from that menu.

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FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton (left) presents Christy Snow with her Employee of the Year award.

Snow earns top employee honor

Christy Snow was named Fulton County Transit Authority Employee of the Year for 2020. Snow’s honor was announced by FCTA Executive Director Kenney Etherton recently in front of her Dispatch/Call Taking co-workers and several others. Employee of the Year is chosen from secret ballot voting by FCTA employees.

“It’s a team effort,” Snow said after finding out she was the recipient of the award. “I couldn’t do it without them (Dispatch/Call Takers).”

Recognized at FCTA for her high work ethic, Snow said she is just "work oriented" and "just does her job."

Snow definitely does her job - even in the throes of a COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been a crazy year,” Snow said, smiling.

Snow will mark her third year at FCTA in April 2021. She is currently Co-Dispatcher/Call Taker at the agency.

Born in Fulton, she is the daughter of Walter and Freda Boquette. She is married to Michael Snow. They have three children: Elizabeth, Brandon, and Alayna.

FCTA proudly serves Fulton, Hickman, Graves, and Carlisle counties. #TeamTransit

Safer breathing

Fulton County Transit Interim Operations Manager/Human Resources/Safety Manager Paul Maxwell installs a new air purifier in the main office building at Fulton. The same air purifier was also installed in the Maintenance building, HR building, and at the FCTA office building in Mayfield. Funding for the air purifiers came from a CARES Capital Grant.

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AGENCY INFORMATION - This graphic, provided by Purchase Area Regional Transit, offers various statistics and testimonials from Murray-Calloway County Transit, Paducah Area Transit System and Fulton County Transit Authority. Read the graphic carefully to learn more about each agency and how they work together to provide transportation  for those in the Purchase Area.