'I really love this job': Emotions running high as NFAT returns
NORFOLK, Neb. -- After a few months pause, North Fork Area Transit officially resumed operations on Monday.
Officials with the northeast Nebraska transit service said things have gone smoothly as the non-profit organization slowly builds all of its services back up.
“Monday was an amazing day,” said Corinne Donahue. “We heard from not only our passengers but we heard from other communities members saying 'congratulations.'”
Donahue, who works for the Nebraska Department of Transportation Mobility Management Team, said it was an incredible feeling knowing that everyone in the community stepped up to help raise the $500,000 to get operations going again.
“We had a foundation that stepped forward with the half million dollars,” Donahue said. “This community, these businesses [and] this board fought hard to come up with the other matching funds and that’s the magic that happened on Monday.”
A dispatcher and driver for the service, Heather Koenig-Cleveland who interacts with community members everyday, said the public reaction since coming back has been overwhelming.
“Every time they call they’re like ‘we’re so happy to have you guys back,’” said Koenig-Cleveland. “We’re glad to be back.”
Koenig-Ceveland who has only been with the service since September of last year said she was put in a tough spot after hearing the news of operations being suspended back on Jan. 6.
"The last day here I ended up sitting in my car, and cried because this was the job I loved the most,” she said.
And when she got the news about the service coming back, nothing mattered more to her.
“I really love this job,” she said. “I couldn’t find anyplace else that I loved the most.”
Since reopening, the service has provided 60 to 70 rides a day and hired 20 drivers back.
The operations supervisor at NFAT John Boyd said even though it was tough with what happened to shut down for a few months, they’ve had no problem getting employees back.
“Getting all of our drivers back was really easy,” said Boyd. ”A lot of people have been waiting for us to open back up so they could resume their jobs.”
At the moment, TeleLift is currently the only service operating in Norfolk. Officials said they’re taking a slow approach to gradually getting all of its services available including NiteLift.