Rotary Club, Community Rides partners in holiday designated driver program


By Eamon Baird

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TROY — The Troy and West Milton Rotary Clubs are partnering with Community Rides for the “Designated Driver Awareness Program” to help prevent drunken driving during this year’s holiday season.

This year’s official kick-off will be on Monday, Dec. 11, at the Miami County Sheriff’s Training Center at 2050 N. County Road 25A.

Larry Heisey, representing the Troy and West Milton Rotary Clubs, talked about the businesses participating in the program.

“We’ve got over 60 businesses in town, that includes of course, the bars, liquor stores, other stores that have alcohol and gas stations. Anybody that deals with alcohol is included,” Heisey said.

The Rotary Club will distribute designated driver clip-on buttons to all the businesses participating in the program. People wearing these buttons will not be served alcoholic drinks at these establishments.

“They have the button, and then at the end of the night, when everybody starts to go home, they can decide who can drive and who shouldn’t and who should have a designated driver to take them home,” Heisey said.

In addition to the buttons, participating businesses will feature informational posters provided by the Rotary Club.

Heisey said this program was started in 1999 by Dr. Mike Pope.

“He was a chiropractor here in town, and he started it and ran it for a good many years, and then I started helping him, and I’ve been running it now for the last several years,” Heisey said.

Since the program was initiated in 1999, no one has died on Miami County roads or highways during the holidays because of an impaired driver.

While Heisey is currently leading the Rotary Club’s annual designated driver program he is currently training Dr. Jeff Studebaker and Scott Farrenkoph.

“Those two are kind of taking over now, but we’ve got a lot of volunteers from the Rotary to help us too,” Heisey said.

This is the first year the Rotary Club will be partnering with Community Rides of Troy, a non-profit organization that offers free rides to work for residents of Troy.

Ambre Landis, scheduling coordinator for Community Rides, discussed the necessity of a ride service this time of year.

“You have a lot of people out shopping traveling to see family. So, it’s a dangerous time for anybody that can possibly get hurt. And you don’t want to ruin the holidays for somebody,” Landis said.

Community Rides will offer free rides to individuals on Friday and Saturday nights starting on Dec. 15 from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The free ride program will function similarly to Uber or Lyft.

“All of the drivers will have the information. I’ll give them the pickup time and let them know that typically it will be within a five-minute period. The driver will pull up, and I usually tell the person to look out for them. The driver will have their phone number to send a text message to let them know that they’re there. I let them know what vehicles are showing up, and it’s marked and everything, so they’ll know what to look for,” Landis said.

Community Rides currently has three full-time drivers, and Landis said all of them are willing to participate to make sure people get home safely.

“All three of my drivers live in Troy, so as soon as they get the information, they’re really close to getting there in a timely manner,” Landis said.

Anyone who needs to use this service can contact Community Rides at 937-396-9917.

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