The Payne County Board of Commissioners have a lot to think about after hearing a proposal for a regional transit authority.

Stillwater resident Yuki Clarke presented the commissioners with her plan for a countywide bus system that would operate loops within the cities of Stillwater, Perkins, and Cushing and connect those communities with Glencoe, Ripley, Yale, as well as crossing the county line into Perry.

Clarke said the transit authority is in the planning stage. She recently revised the route map to show an added line connecting Perkins and Cushing.

The proposal notes that the system would give people living in poverty or with disabilities greater access to services and employment. Clarke says people in Payne County who don’t drive or have their own means of transportation are often forced to rely on expensive shuttle or ride share services.

She is hoping to form a committee that includes representatives from the various communities in Payne County, Oklahoma State University’s transit service, county officials, and other community organizations and interested individuals.

Once the system was operational, a similarly comprised board of trustees could oversee operations.

Grants targeting specific needs, like enhanced mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities, are a possible source of funding, Clarke said. Other possibilities include a county sales tax, revenue from selling advertising inside and outside the small transit buses, and partnerships with businesses to underwrite work shuttles or event promotions.

Clarke estimates the federal government would pay 80% of capital purchases and up to 50% of operational costs.

She proposes a fixed route service running seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with additional on demand services offered by the transit authority. Clarke’s proposal would make rides free due to the costs to install systems for collecting fares. Avoiding fare collection would also speed the boarding process and increase usage by passengers.

The commissioners approved a request from Dr. Erin Dyke to use the courthouse lawn on Friday from 7 -10 p.m. for a candlelight service organized by the Lights 4 Liberty. Dyke says the service is designed to draw attention to poor conditions in detention centers housing undocumented migrants. Dyke has spoken with individuals providing legal services to the detainees to verify the poor conditions at the detention centers. The service will include speakers and individuals reading from quotes from children housed at the detention centers. Water will be provided for spectators.

In regular weekly business, the commissioners approved purchase orders of $507,517 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year and $137,878.80 for the 2018-19 fiscal year. They also approved resolutions to renew an inter-local cooperation agreement with the Circuit Engineering District 5 and select financial institutions to receive county funds.

They also passed a resolution authorizing County Treasurer Carla Manning to invest county funds. The Treasurer is tasked with obtaining the best return for the county. Interest earned in excess of $5 per month is credited to the county general fund.

Manning presented a statement for the resale property fund that showed a balance of $603,713. The balance is used as a contingency fund in case property tax valuation protests result in changes and payments have to be refunded to taxpayers.

Chairman Chris Reding announced the new chiller has been delivered to the Payne County Courthouse. He said courthouse employees and visitors endured two warm days but he expects to have the new cooling unit installed soon.

In other business, the commissioners approved contracts with R.K. Black, Inc. to service copy machines for the county clerk’s office and the District 2 office of Commissioner Reding.