Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Randy Booker: Local bus service a 'godsend'


Lois E. Johnson

Randy Booker rides the Arrowhead Transit bus to work two days a week.

Randy Booker, 49, of Moose Lake likes to walk. In fact, he said he walks five miles a day.

But he no longer has to walk to his job. Since Arrowhead Transit started providing bus service in town, he has been taking the bus two days a week.

"Before the bus service started, I walked everywhere," he said in a recent interview. "In summer it was nice but not in winter. Walking is sometimes dangerous during the winter."

Booker grew up in Sturgeon Lake and graduated from Willow River High School. He went on to college in the Twin Cities.

Then his life changed permanently when he was in an accident.

"I was 19 and going to college in 1985 when I had a head injury in a car accident," he said. "The injury was in the right side of my brain and it affected the left side of my body. I can walk but my left knee wants to hyperextend, where it goes back farther than it should."

The accident also caused vision problems on his left side, he said.

"I could have a car and drive but I don't want to," he added. "If I caused an accident because I didn't see something, I couldn't live with myself."

Booker said he spent a year at the Courage Center, where he was rehabilitated and learned how to manage the changes the accident caused. He continued to live in the Twin Cities and spent the next 25 years working at 3M.

"My job was outsourced," he explained. "I couldn't find another one, and my expenses, like rent, were killing me. When I told my vocational counselor I had to move back home, she said that might be a good idea."

That turned out to be a wise choice.

"It was the best decision I could have made," Booker said.

He lives in Hillside Manor West and is able to walk most places in town.

"Moose Lake is a very pedestrian-friendly town," he said. "I can walk most of the places where I need to go."

Booker found employment at Oakview Assisted Living, where he is a janitor in the three homes and does light office work.

He finds his job to be fulfilling.

"I used to be a volunteer there but when the position opened up for the janitorial services, I applied and got it," he said. "Now my favorite saying is, 'Dust and fingerprints are my enemies; they don't stand a chance around me.'"

The administration and residents at Oakview appreciate Booker and his work.

"Booker provides important housekeeping services at Augustana Oakview that benefit all of the residents," said Brenda Danielson, director.

Even though Booker tries to walk five miles a day, the distance to Oakview is a little too far.

"It's about a mile and a half," he said. "I used to get a ride with Rural Rides, a program through Carlton County Volunteer Services. But that program ended. The bus is a godsend. I have been taking the bus two days a week since it started, and I have been endorsing it as much as possible."

It's not only the ride that Booker appreciates about the bus service, it's also the drivers.

"The drivers are so helpful," he said. "They will bring your groceries up to your apartment for you. It's such a good service."

Ridership on the buses has not been as high as was projected.

"If they don't have the bus service, I probably won't be able to work," said Booker. "I need to get out of my apartment, I can't sit around."

For more information about the Arrowhead Transit bus service or to request a ride on the bus on Tuesdays or Thursdays, call 1-800-862-0175, option 3, or visit


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