PHILADELPHIA — By Brian Livingston
Saying that Friday was a great day to celebrate the progress of the Choctaw people, Choctaw Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson welcomed the addition of the Choctaw Regional Maintenance Facility.
"There have been so many efforts, so much energy, put into this project for the Choctaw community," Anderson said Friday morning inside the spacious facility. "This facility will ensure a reliable fleet for the transportation needs of the Choctaw people."
The $2.5 million project was built with federal and state grant funds through the United States Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Commission (FTA) and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. FTA provided approximately $2.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, with the Mississippi Department of Transportation paying for the remainder. Craig Carter, assistant to MDOT Central District Commissioner Dick Hall, said this facility will vastly improve the mobility of the people it serves.
"We recognize the needs of the community and will do all we can in helping to meet the transportation needs," Carter said.
Choctaw Transit is operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and serves approximately 10,000 members of the tribe, as well as individuals in the surrounding communities. Service is provided to East Central Community College in Decatur and Meridian Community College, as well as other destinations in Meridian, Jackson and neighboring counties. Choctaw Transit has a fleet of 40 vehicles.
Anderson said the needs of the Choctaw community are varied. She said students need transportation to colleges in the area and that workers rely on public transportation to get to their jobs. She also said this facility will better serve the elderly who require the transportation to do their shopping and go to the doctor for treatments.
Dr. Yvette Taylor of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration said these were dollars well spent.
"This will also strengthen the transportation network within the area," Taylor said. "Transportation is a right, not a luxury."