Wet Mountain Valley Rotary Van Page

Rotary Van Service


We are happy to announce that The Wet Mountain Valley Rotary Community Service, Inc., “Rotary Van Service”, will continue service starting in February on a limited basis. Rides for Medicaid recipients will continue as usual. Other rides will be offered for a $25 donation to ride to Pueblo, Canon City, and Salida. Local rides will be available for $10. We will only be offering rides to Colorado Springs for medical reasons for $40. If you need a ride to Heart of the Rockies Hospital in Salida, please contact the clinic first to see if their van is available.

If you cannot afford the donation, ask dispatch (719- 783-2343) if you qualify to receive a sponsorship. Generous local supporters have reached out to donate money to sponsor rides. The Rotary Van Service has been providing rides since June 2004 and is actively working to find additional funding to continue helping the community with this most needed service. If you want to help us as a driver, a sponsor, or volunteer, contact us at 719-851-0913.

The mission of the Wet Mountain Valley Community Service, Inc. (Rotary Van Service) is to provide residents of Custer County with safe transportation within one hundred miles of Custer Conty. The corporation is formed to own, maintain, and operate vehicles for transportation for members of the public who, because of medical or other infirmities or because of financial circumstances, need transportation in and around Custer County and the surrounding areas.

This is a transportation service provided to Valley residents to assist them with trips to visit doctors or run special errands. We have drivers from the Wet Mountain Valley Rotary Club and the community. Many drive more than once a week taking people to Pueblo, Canon City, Colorados Springs, Salida as well as Westcliffe or Silver Cliff.

Drivers are the key to the success of the Rotary Van Service and we have dedicated drivers who are proud of what they do and are appreciated by the people who depend upon them. And we could do more if we had more drivers. If you are looking for a way to truly help your community, apply to be a Rotary Van Driver. Call 719- 783-2343. Someday, you too, may need our service.

For transportation needs, contact Van Dispatch at 719-783-2343


The first thoughts and ideas about the Rotary Van Project were discussed at a Rotary Dinner Night Out. Lori Gaide (spouse to member Art Gaide) was visiting with member Bill McAlee about a van the Clinic had operated but no longer provided. Laster that week, Bill discussed the subject with a few other Rotary members and decided to approach the Clinic board to see if the Rotary club would be allowed to operate the van for six months. The Clinic board agree and, in fact, continued to pay the insurance on the van for that period of time.

The Rotary club was now in the transportation business. Members Art Gaide and Ned Freestone inspected the van and made arrangements with the Sheriff's Department to park the van in the Sheriff's parking area with the keys being kept in their front office. Another van was purchased for the cost of one dollar from Ray and Mary Lou Koch, and the Rotary van project was up and running. Some Rotary members were concerned about the liability aspects of having the van operated under the club's name and how a lawsuit would affect individual members. After consulting with an attorney, it was determined there would not be any individual member liability because the van had proper insurance. With the help of member Gene Nieges, a 501(c)(3) was established in June 2004 with the name being registered as: Wet Mountain Valley Community Service, Inc., and generally referred to as the Rotary Van Service.

A board of directors was formed and member Art Gaide volunteered to maintain the vehicles while member Gary Frickell set up a computer program to operate the appropriate financial bookkeeping. Bill and Eileen McAlee were instrumental in finding funding for the project and contacted an organization called "RIDE" which was the Fremont County Transportation System. They agreed to help with some funding since our service provided rides into their county. Next came the primary funding from the Department on Aging. Due to community members needed dialyss, which requires a six hour wait period, it was determined that another vehicle was needed. It was obtained by the Department on Aging writing a grant on our behlf. Additional funds were still needed to perate the service. Eileen McAlee found a book listing organizations funding our type of tranportation and she began writing grands for our funding needs.

Additional funding was solicited from:

  • The Wet Mountain Community Foundation
  • Upper Area Agency on Aging
  • Upper Arkansas Council of Governments
  • The American Legion
  • The Town of Westcliffe
  • Custer County Board of Supervisors
  • Donations from community members

The McAlee personal phone system and number was the dispatch center for needy community members to call for a ride. This also required reaching out to volunteer drivers and scheduling rides on a daily basis. Eileen held that position for eighteen months until a grant was written and awared to enable the service to hire Rose Lovelace as a dispatcher. A separate telephone number was established and is still in use today. Louse Peter (spouse of member Horst Peter) was the dispatcher for a period of five years, followed by Shelly Penkoff who also became the administrator for many years and shepherded the organization to sustainability through grants and donations. Today the Rotary Van Service Administrator is Deb Snell and Dispatch is run by Duane Johnson.