BRADENTON -- Manatee County Area Transit buses are about to get friendlier for veterans.
In October, Manatee County will add a bus stop in front of the Bradenton Veterans Administration Clinic, 5520 State Road 64 E., satisfying a need that has existed since the clinic opened in 2010.
Lee Washington, Manatee County veterans service officer, told the Manatee Veterans Council about plans for the bus stop at its Thursday meeting.
"We hope to have that done in the first week of October," Washington said.
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William Steele, Manatee County Transit Division manager, confirmed construction on a handicap-accessible bus stop with a shelter should start in September.
"We just thought it was the right thing to do. The veterans clearly deserve this," Steele said.
There are other bus stops within a quarter-mile of the VA clinic, but each requires passengers to cross busy streets to reach their destination.
The county is coordinating with the Florida Department of Transportation for approval for the stop, because Manatee Avenue is a state highway, Steele said.
In the interim, the Department of Veteran Affairs has been providing transportation for vets unable to reach the VA clinic because of a lack of a bus stop there.
Clinic staff members helped lobby for a bus stop as a better way to serve vets.
Starting Oct. 6, Washington said all active and retired military and other veterans will be able to ride MCAT buses at a half-fare discount. All they have to do is provide the bus driver with proof of military service, Washington said.
A revamped fare schedule goes into effect in October to bring the ride price to $1.50, but vets will be able to ride for 75 cents, Steele said.
Steele believes other mass-transit systems around the state may follow suit in giving vets a break on bus fares.
In other business:
Chairman Don Courtney asked for nominations for veteran and auxiliary member of the year be submitted by Oct. 1 to P.O. Box 1881, Bradenton FL 34206. Nominations should include a photo and written recommendation. For the vet of the year, a copy of their DD Form 214 should also be submitted.
Goodwill Manasota and Career Source representatives said the second annual Veterans &Their Families Jobs Fair is set for 9 a.m. -- noon Fridayat Goodwill Manasota's corporate campus, 2705 51st Ave. E., off U.S. 301.
"We have asked that all employers present will have jobs available, and that they are looking to hire veterans," said Margie Genter of Goodwill Manasota.
Palma Sola VFW Post 10141, 5105 Manatee Ave. W., will have a POW-MIA program at noon Saturday.
Thomas G. "Skip" Hannon, commander of the Korean War Veterans Association, said a Korean War Memorial is being completed for installation later this year at Veterans Park near Manatee Memorial Hospital.
The 16th annual Stand Down at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto is set for 8 a.m. Nov. 1, said Dennis Turner, program manager for Turning Points. The annual event for homeless people offers food, showers, clothing, haircuts, health, and job information.
This year, organizers are scrambling to make up $12,000 in state and federal grants that failed to materialize, Turner said.
Dick Krempasky and Bob Greene presented a $500 check to Turner for the Stand Down on behalf of the honor guard for Palma Sola Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10141.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.