From staff reports
STEUBENVILLE — The women and men who work for the Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority are all about improving the lives of everyone who lives in the region.
“We want to be involved in the community and want to be able to give back to the communities that we serve,” explained Tim Turner, transit manager for the authority.
SVRTA will be doing just that on Nov. 2, when it provides transportation for those who purchase VIP tickets for the Herald-Star Speaker Series, Presented by Eastern Gateway Community College. A bus will transport patrons between Indian Creek High School, the site of the 7:30 p.m. presentation, and the Gaslite Restaurant on Canton Road, the site of the reception, which will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Speaking will be Jeff Hatcher, a Steubenville native and 1976 graduate of Wintersville High School. Hatcher, a noted screenwriter and playwright, has had works presented on and off-Broadway and at local and regional theaters around the world.
“We’re honored to be a part of it,” Turner said while discussing the series, which began in November 2012.
“We’ve always worked hard to ensure the speaker series offers a first-class presentation,” explained Ross Gallabrese, executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. “We’re glad that SVRTA is once again joining with us. Those who purchase VIP tickets will be able to park at the high school, enjoy the brief ride to the Gaslite, take part in the reception and then ride back to the school for the presentation.”
Hatcher, the son of the late Virginia and Paul Hatcher, also has a number of television screenplays to his credit, including episodes of “Columbo” and “The Mentalist.”
Making it easier for area residents to get around the Tri-State Area is what SVRTA is all about. Turner and Jerry Thomas, SVRTA operations manager, said giving back to the communities that support them is important. That has included a free shuttle service to First Fridays on Fourth in Steubenville, Wednesdays in Wintersville and Community Days in Mingo Junction.
They said a growing number of area residents are taking advantage of availability of the shuttle services.
It’s all part of the expanding route structure SVRTA offers. Service starts at 3:30 a.m. and runs through 8:05 p.m. Either by connection or with a direct route, riders can get on a bus in Steubenville and travel to Wheeling and the Ohio Valley Mall or to Robinson Township and the nearby industrial parks and office buildings and Pittsburgh International Airport.
At the stop in front of Ikea in Robinson Town Center, for example, riders can catch the 28X Airport Flyer operated by Pittsburgh Regional Transit and travel to the airport or as far as Carnegie Mellon University in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.
And, all of that is in addition to reliable and frequent local service in Steubenville, Wintersville and Mingo Junction.
“Now that riders are seeing what they can do with it, they are saying, wow — I can go to Rayland, I can go to the regatta, I can go to Robinson and eat and shop up there.”
Turner and Thomas added parents of students at the Franciscan University of Steubenville were excited to learn that the service made it easy for them to get from Steubenville to the airport for trips home.
They have even been contacted by officials in Imperial about about the possibility of adding stops in that community as a way to help residents get to work and the shopping areas, Thomas said.
“Pittsburgh Regional Transit isn’t offering service in those areas,” Thomas said. “We are in frequent contact with them, and if they are not in a particular area, they don’t have a problem with us stopping there.”
Locally, they said they are working with officials in Toronto to possibly find a funding source that would allow service to be extended north, at least on a trial basis.
Tickets to the VIP reception are priced at $75 for a single and $125 for a couple. The evening will feature a meet-and-great with Hatcher and a chance to have a photo taken with him, hors d’oeuvres, a drink ticket, transportation to and from the high school and preferred seating for the presentation.
General admission tickets for the presentation are $25 each.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit the Herald-Star at 401 Herald Square, or call Diana Brown at (740) 283-4711. Tickets also can be purchased on the websites of the newspapers.
Area high school and junior high school students will have the chance to attend the presentation at no charge, thanks to the support of local organizations, including the Weirton Heights Rotary Club and the Steubenville Kiwanis Club.
Joining the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times as sponsors for the presentation are Eastern Gateway Community College, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Main Street Bank, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and WTRF-TV. Special support is being provided by the Indian Creek Local School District, Em-Media, the Gaslite, Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority, Downtown Bakery and Rich and Shirley’s Quick Print.