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A vote for RVTD funding is a vote for community

I voted for the original bond issue for RVTD (Rogue Valley Transportation District) a few years ago because I believe in strong community infrastructure that builds a strong community.

A strong community is a place that includes, protects and nurtures all the folks that live there. A strong community does its best to protect and serve everybody regardless of their economic status and ability to provide for themselves and their families.

We’ve lived here in Ashland and Phoenix for 13 years, moving our family from beautiful Alaska to beautiful Rogue Valley. We’re semi-retired, still working some, with some retirement income. We don’t use the bus, my wife and I have cars and bicycles and no need for public transportation.

August 2015: I’m working and something is very wrong with the vision in my right eye. Very wrong means it’s not there anymore, in an instant. I have some inkling what might be happening, as a severely nearsighted person all my life, I’ve been warned about a detached retina. One hour later in my most excellent ophthalmologist office my fears are confirmed, off to the retina doctor, let’s save my eyesight.

At the retina doctor, the news gets worse, it seems the retina in the left eye is also detached, a rare occurrence, he’s only seen once before. “This is going to be tough,” he warns me. Two quick and painful cryopaxy procedures a week apart stabilize the situation before three delicate surgeries and hopefully restoration of my sight. I will spare you the details, gentle reader, but this is a long and arduous journey.

So what’s this got to do with RVTD? I spent a month in a massage chair head down every waking hour, the only exception was to go to the bathroom or eat. I slept on my side or head down. My left eye was filled with an inert gas; to me it was a series of bubbles, like fish eggs. My right eye was filled with silicone oil. My days were filled with audio books; I decided to brush up on my American history.

Finally I’m cleared to stand up again and move about. Ashland walks with my wife are wonderful but the stuff in my eyes requires her gentle and caring guidance. I still can’t see much but the doc says I can now move around. It’s time to take the bus and see the world again!

I’m still months away from being able to drive but I can see enough to take the bus. When the bus pulls over to pick me up the weird stuff in my eyes makes me jump back, It appears the driver is going to run into me, I know this isn’t real but I jump back anyway, the driver is cool and calm and off we go.

A young woman sits next to me, the bus is crowded, she has a white cane and a Kindle, and she reads a huge font on the device to help her get through her day. The bus stops and the platform goes down for a wheelchair. I’m beginning to understand RVTD.

The most impressive of my months of riding RVTD as my trusty 4runner sat in the driveway was observing the drivers. Without pause, they deal with traffic and difficult passengers (I never saw any conflicts in my short few weeks, but I’m sure they happen). What struck me the most was the compassion and helpfulness of the drivers for the people they serve.

Please vote and when you vote extend the RVTD bond. This is what folks in a civilized country do, they try and take care of those that have a little less, and leave the politics behind.

Jim Akins lives in Phoenix.