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Catch a charge

Attention wheelchair users! Did you know that you can now charge your scooter/ wheelchair at the Cortland County Office Building?

Because of a joint undertaking between Access To Independence and the County Office Building maintenance staff, there are now two wheelchair charging stations available in the bottom floor of the county office building. One is in the cafeteria used by seniors and the other is in the senior activity room.

The stations were installed last Tuesday.

County Maintenance Foremen David Clay Jr. prepares to install a wheelchair charging station in the senior activity room in the basement of the County Office Building last week.

County Maintenance Foreman David Clay Jr. said that each station is installed on its own dedicated circuit, meaning that there is no way the charging can overwhelm the system. And even in the event of a power outage, the building has a backup generator, which will provide power, he said.

Clay points out the different charging cords inside the station.

The charging stations have two different outlets for the different types of chairs, explained Clay. The stations provide what's called a fast charge, meaning the rider will have enough of a charge to hopefully get them home, but not a full charge, said Rachel Anderson, accessibility modification coordinator at Access to Independence.

A chair is usually charged overnight to ensure the battery is fully charged, she explained.

The stations, which cost $450 each, were installed because of a JM McDonald Foundation matching grant that Access to Independence has, which purchased one charging station. County Maintenance Department Supervisor Chuck Miller dedicated capital improvement funds to cover the other one and also donated his staff's labor and time to the installation.

The charging stations are relatively new, invented within the past five years by a wheelchair user in Oregon, said Anderson. When she called to order them, Anderson said she was told that the company had not sent one this far east before.

"The Oregon state house was the first in the nation with a mobility device charging station in 2017," said Anderson. "So having these in the Cortland County Office building, we're really being cutting edge and ahead of some other communities."

The stations also have a USB cord charging port, which means people who use their phones to help them with accessibility or use any other type of accessibility device, can charge those too, said Anderson.

The stations are equipped to charge different types of wheelchairs. Even if it's not adaptable to your chair, says Rachel Anderson of Access to Independence, as long as you bring your charging cord with you, you can plug it into the device and charge it.

Anderson thinks that having the charging stations in the county office building will give people some peace of mind.

"I think this is going to allow people to be able to be confident that they can be in the community and do everything they want to do without worrying about having to get home before their battery dies," she said.


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