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Canceled trips may resume

LOGAN — Twice-a-week bus trips from Preston, Idaho, to Logan have been canceled due to church-state and insurance concerns.

Franklin County Clerk Elliott Larsen said the trips, which have been shut down for the past month, could resume soon pending final approval from insurance providers.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Franklin County Senior Citizen Center provided a 15-passenger van for any seniors who wanted to go to Logan, said Carol Parker, the center's site manager.

"They would go to the temple. They would go to Wal-Mart. They would get an ice-cream cone. They would go have lunch," Parker said.

The trouble came when someone questioned whether church and state separation had been violated since patrons were being taken to the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parker said.

She stopped the bus rides and contacted the Franklin County commissioners to be certain the publicly funded insurance policy covered the excursions even if the seniors were going to the temple, she said.

"We wanted to make sure we were covered if we got in an accident," Parker said. "We can't take the chance of being in a big lawsuit."

Larsen said he contacted the county's insurance agent to determine if bus rides that included a temple stop were insured. After reviewing the situation and the policy, the insurance company gave the center the go-ahead to continue, Larsen said.

"They found there was really no problem — our insurance would cover the bus when they went down to Utah," Larsen said. "However, if it was used exclusively to go to the temple, then there would have been a problem."

Nevertheless, Parker said she isn't ready yet to resume the trips. She said she is waiting for the insurance company to speak with the board at their next meeting. Parker said she wants to be certain the bus trips are completely covered by the insurance — no matter where the passengers are going.