Don't leave bus riders in cold

The clergy caucus of North central Area congregations Organized to Make an Impact or NAOMI, an interfaith coalition of Wausau area congregations, supports the campaign to save bus service in Weston, Rothschild, and Schofield. The bus serves the most vulnerable members of our community, people with disabilities, persons working at minimum wage jobs, the elderly and the young.

In the Bible, we are counseled again and again to care for the widow and orphan, which means the most vulnerable members of our community. Bus service enriches people's lives in many different ways. It allows people who cannot afford cars to get to work and support themselves and their families. It enables people with disabilities to contribute their many talents to community life and lead independent lives.

For many seniors and teens, it is the only affordable way to get around. Bus service is a key way we all come together to provide an essential service to our community.

NAOMI is aware that Weston, like all of our communities, faces an enormous budget challenge. Metro Ride has proposed a revision of the K line that would reduce its cost by 70 percent. However, even with this major accommodation, the Weston Village Board went and cut the service from next year's budget.

We believe strongly that, however real our economic crisis may be, it should not result in the elimination of programs that serve our most vulnerable citizens.

The biblical prophets were especially concerned with the suffering of the poor, while the most powerful and affluent members of society happily went about their lives. We have no doubt if were we to ask the residents of Weston to contribute the roughly two and a half dollars per person per year that the K line costs, they would open their hearts and wallets and help out. But this is not an effort that can be done privately -- only the village can provide the funds for Metro Ride. Surely, there is still room in budget, and our hearts, to continue the K bus line, a service that markedly improves the lives of today's "widows and orphans."

Rabbi Dan Danson of Mt. Sinai Congregation submitted this column on behalf of NAOMI's clergy caucus. It is also signed by: Rev. Paul Beckel, First Universalist Unitarian Church; Rev. Steven J. Brice, Church of St. Anne; Rev. Gary Froseth, St. Stephens Lutheran Church; Rev. Jay Kamrath; Rev David Klutterman, The Episcopal Church of St John the Baptist; Rev. John Meachen, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church; Rev. Gerald Morris, First United Methodist Congregation; Rev. Erik Olson, First English Lutheran Church; Rev. Ted Sperduto; Rev. Stephen Hamilton Wright, First Presbyterian Church.

This article originally appeared in the Wausau Daily Herald on November 4, 2011 and is available here: