The establishment of Sampson Area Transportation as a standalone department has necessitated a leader be named for the agency, which is now tasked with providing Medicaid transports. That leader, announced this week, comes with a wealth of experience in neighboring Duplin County.
The county has selected Rosemarie Oates as director of Sampson Area Transportation (SAT), effective this Tuesday, Sept. 4. Oates is currently the director of Duplin County Public Transportation, where she began her career in public transportation in December 2001.
In a prepared statement, county officials said the naming of a new director is “an important step in the continued development of the county’s public transportation services.” SAT is a consolidated transportation system that provides transportation Monday through Friday, primarily in fixed routes, but also on a more limited basis for demand response (client requested) needs.
Previously a division of the Department of Aging, SAT became a standalone department as of July 1, expanding to include previously-contracted Medicaid Transportation services.
”It is anticipated that the expansion of routes and resources for Medicaid transportation will ultimately allow the county to improve the access of transportation services in underserved areas and for underserved populations,” the county stated in its announcement of Oates’ leadership and the future of SAT.
Raised in a military family who lived across the United States, Oates settled in Duplin when her parents retired to eastern North Carolina. She has three grown children and five grandchildren.
She worked her way up the ranks for the better part of the past two decades, starting in a secretarial position and steadily advancing during her more than 17 years in Duplin. She was quickly promoted to scheduler/dispatcher after mastering efficient transit scheduling, then to assistant director in 2008 with responsibilities in grant application processes, procurement and reporting, as well as program and operational oversight.
She was ultimately promoted to director in 2015, supervising four office staff and 22 transportation specialists/drivers and responsible for all aspects of the department’s operations, including budgeting and grant writing, along with vehicle maintenance and management.
“Ms. Oates certainly has the knowledge, technical skills and experience to lead this department,” County manager Ed Causey stated. “But, coupled with her abilities, she has a steady, calm, approachable demeanor that is desirable in a department where many clients have special needs and the logistics of matching those clients with available services and managing fleet and personnel resources can be challenging.”
Oates said that challenging work has proven rewarding — and she loves it.
“I love what I do; it is a necessary service, and unfortunately many people are not fully aware of just how much some citizens desperately need it,” said Oates, who tries to instill in her drivers that same care for those they transport. “I tell them you never know what is going on in their lives, and it is up to us to treat them with respect and compassion.”