Dana Burmeister joined the crew of the Benton County Transportation Department a little over 20 years ago. She began as a part-time driver and was later a dispatcher/scheduler and in 2015 she became the Director. She retired this month and will be handing the wheel over to Dean Vrba of Mr. Auburn. She believes that the program started some 40 years ago with a couple of vans that delivered meals and it grew from there. Currently, the service provides 12-1700 rides per month, pre-COVID it was on the high end.
The Benton County Transportation Department now has 12 transportation buses. Four of those are housed in Belle Plaine. One of the greatest accomplishments that Burmeisters has brought to the department was in obtaining funding for the brand new transportation building that is located on the site of the Benton County Access Center aka the old west school site. It was completed in March of this year.
Over the years, Burmeister found that the most gratifying part of her job was knowing how the service has helped so many people in the community and how grateful the residents are for the service. Many times, the buses provide transportation to doctor's appointments or the grocery store. Burmeister said that the service has helped many to live at home longer and not have to rely on family members who sometimes don't live in the area. "Helping one's own community is a very special feeling you get, knowing that you make a difference," she said.
Besides the Director, there is a full-time dispatcher, 1 full-time driver and 14 part-time drivers that keep the wheels turning. Burmeister said that she will miss all of the people and the wonderful drivers that she's had over the years.
Burmeister plans to spend more time with her grandchildren, fishing, biking, and helping her husband Gary on their family's farm.
Thanks, Dana for your service to the community, we'll understand if we see a "Gone Fishin'" sign on the door!