Transit Grant Passenger Vans for Workers to Jack Link's Now in Operation
By Joe Morey
Previously reported on Oct. 1st, Namekagon Transit was awarded a grant in the amount of $99,540 to purchase two new 10-passenger vans that would be used to transport workers to and from work at the Jack Link’s Minong plant. The two vans have now arrived and the first route is operational between 2 pm and 2 am Monday through Thursday, according to Jeff Crone, a pack room supervisor at the plant and the driver for that second shift.
Crone said currently Jack Links has open positions for all three shifts. Potential employees should apply at https://www.jacklinks.com/careers/
The grant, Minong Access Commuter Project, establishes a transportation route from Sawyer County and LCO to Jack Link’s to provide access to employment for Lac Courte Oreilles tribal members as well as Sawyer County inmates on the work-release program called Huber and former felons who are having difficulty finding employment.
The National Rural Transit Assistance Program grant is a partnership between Namekagon Transit, the LCO Tribe, Jack Links Inc, Sawyer County Sheriff’s Court Services Division/Huber, and Sawyer County/LCO Economic Development.
According to Karen Malesecca, Namekagon Transit Manager, the vehicles will be driven by volunteer Jack Link employees vetted and trained in defensive driving and passenger assistance by Namekagon Transit. The volunteer drivers, working two shifts, will receive an incentive of $50 per week for the responsibility of driving, riders, and proper care of the vehicles. The driver will pick up employee passengers at designated locations, drive to the Jack Links plant, work the shift, and then return after the shift in reverse order. Another driver will do the same for the second shift. Each van will also have a backup driver with the same credentials to insure uninterrupted service. The vans will be parked when not in use on Lac Courte Oreilles tribal property.
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman, who also serves on the Namekagon Transit Board, said the entire Transit Board was 100% behind the Transit Manager, Karen Melasecca, to seek this grant as the Tribe has a significant workforce.
Crone explained the current operation for the first van and the second shift.
“It arrives first stop at the Casino and departs at 1:15 pm. Next stop is the new Kwik Trip in Hayward at 1:30. From there it departs for Minong. Drop offs will be the same locations right around 2:30 am at the new Kwik Trip in Hayward and again at the Casino at 2:45 am. If employees are on the route there and back they can be picked up and dropped off at home. For instance the van departs from Water Tower at 1:00 pm and then stops at the Casino.
“The current work schedule is Monday through Thursday and occasional Fridays and or Saturdays overtime. Monday through Thursdays is the current mandatory days, 4 days on and 3 days off if you don’t want to work overtime,” Crone added. “Employees who ride the van are expected to be ready and waiting for the van as this is a very strict schedule, lateness will not be tolerated as this affects all who ride. Cost is minimal, $1 there and $1 back. Passes can be purchased at the Namekagon Transit https://www.namekagontransit.com.
According to Crone, Transit is still determining how the second van will be used. It can be used for the weekend shift which is 5:30 am to 6:00 pm Friday through Sunday. Or the 1st shift 5:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Thursday. Or even if the second shift 10 passenger van gets filled up it can be used for a second 2nd shift van. Whatever the best potential use is it will be used in that way.
If you have any questions call Jeff Crone at (715) 558-1209 or Karen at (715) 558-4096.