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Handibus society marks a milestone in fine style

Fort Macleod Handibus

Don Doherty piloted the new Fort Macleod Handibus in the 31st annual Santa Claus Parade on Saturday

Fort Macleod Handibus Society celebrated an important milestone in style last weekend.
The society got to mark its 25th anniversary by showing off its brand-new handibus during the Santa Claus Parade, which had the fitting theme “Celebrating Southern Alberta Milestones.”
“Today is one of the most exciting moments in handibus history,” society president David Hughes said.
The new handibus was introduced Friday night at the west end of Main Street, where hundreds of people had gathered to sing Christmas carols and light the community tree.
“Our handibus society is celebrating 25 years of serving the needs of our community,” said Town of Fort Macleod economic development officer Martin Ebel, who was master of ceremonies. “Now they have a new handibus to do that.”
Hughes told the audience planning began five years ago to replace the old handibus, which is now 13 years old and has travelled more than 200,000 kilometres.
It became apparent to the society from the down time that was needed to repair the old bus that a new model was needed.
“Today our dream has been fulfilled,” Hughes said. “This is truly a testimony of the character of the people and organizations of Fort Macleod.”
Donations and grants funded the purchase.
Trinity United Church minister Rev. Eras Van Zyl kick-started fund-raising in 2011 by cycling to Fort Macleod from Kimberley.
Since then, $77,085.72 has been raised.
Service clubs and community organizations contributed $37,158.58. Family and individual donations total $14,532.40 and businesses have provided $6,570.
The Town of Fort Macleod gave the handibus society $16,824.74 toward bus replacement costs and the MD of Willow Creek provided a $2,000 transportation grant.
The handibus society ordered an Arboc “Spirit of Freedom” low floor bus in June 2012.
The new bus chassis was ordered through Scougall Motors. The chassis was built and delivered to Indiana where construction of the body took place at the Arboc plant.
The new handibus has seating for 11 ambulatory passengers with space for three wheelchairs.
Two double fold-down seats accommodate four more ambulatory passengers if wheelchair spaces are not being utilized.
The low floor enables wheelchair passengers to access the bus by ramp eliminating the need for a lift.

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