Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 27, 2013

W.Va. Courtesy Patrol marks 15 years

Associated Press

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Courtesy Patrol is marking 15 years of helping motorists on more than 800 miles of state roadways.

The welfare-to-work initiative helps stranded motorists who need gasoline, a new tire or other roadside assistance. Its members are on call around the clock, every day of the year.

“The Courtesy Patrol has reached a milestone that all of West Virginia can be proud of,” said Jennifer Douglas, director of the Courtesy Patrol with the Citizens Conservation Crops of West Virginia. “It remains the only program of its kind in the country.”

Officials say they’ve done everything from changing tires and providing free gasoline to offering the use of their cell phone and giving directions to lost tourists. They also remove debris and dead animals from roadways.

The Charleston Gazette reports that the program has logged about 68 million miles and has helped more than 280,000 motorists since it began 15 years ago.

Members of the program also have answered about 2 million phone calls and removed about 17,000 items of debris.

There are 25 white Ford F-150’s in the Courtesy Patrol’s fleet. The drivers must complete training to not only assist stranded motorists, but to also be give directions to tourists.

The Courtesy Patrol hires people identified by their welfare caseworkers for participation in one of the state’s welfare-to-work programs. Douglas said the program is instrumental in helping welfare recipients make the transition to full-time employment. Several of its participants have received AmeriCorps education awards to attend college.

“This program is an example of public-private partnerships and bi-partisanship at its best,” Douglas said.

The Courtesy Patrol is funded with $4.7 million a year from the state’s Tourism Promotion Fund.

To contact the Courtesy Patrol, call 1-888-359-3683 or dial (asterisk)SP on a cell phone.