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Dickinson may lose taxi service

There are a number of reasons Dakota Cab plans to close, and the owner said an attack on a driver is among them.

Ray Sand, owner of Dakota Cab, said he plans to close March 31.

"There are other things in play that have brought us to this decision, this was just kind of the icing on the cake, if you will," he said Wednesday.

With his decision final, some are worried about the effects of the only taxi cab service in the city shutting down.

A 72-year-old Dakota Cab driver was beaten near Rosie's Food and Gas on South Main in Dickinson Tuesday at about 10 p.m., according to the Dickinson Police Department.

Monty Glenn McKenzie, 23, was arrested for aggravated assault in connection to the incident, Lt. Rod Banyai said. He added McKenzie allegedly hit the driver until he fell to the ground, but didn't stop there.

"The taxi driver was down on the ground and the individual was kicking him," Banyai said. "The individual that attacked the taxi driver fled the scene, but we located him in the area."

Banyai said the driver was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital after the assault and a hospital spokesperson said the man was treated and released.

McKenzie was transported to the Southwest Multi County Correction Center in Dickinson, Banyai added.

Sand said he doesn't know why the driver was attacked.

"We don't have all the facts yet," Sand said, adding in the three years he's owned the business, this is the first time a driver has been assaulted.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said he is looking into ways to replace the cab service. He added the city subsidizes Dakota Cab for its services and would consider a similar agreement with a new cab company.

"I think it is safe to say we are open to all options and our interest is making sure that there's good transportation in the community and if nobody comes to the table, we'll have to start thinking outside the box," Kessel said.

He said the city may not have a quick replacement.

"I would love to say that the transition would be seamless. I certainly can't guarantee that," Kessel said.

If nobody steps in to take over the service or start a new business, the effects will be felt by many in the city.

The Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport has a taxi pick up a traveler at least once or twice a day, said Matthew Remynse, airport manager.

"It's going to be an obstacle that we're going to have to get over to help find people rides into Dickinson," Remynse said.

He said while Budget Rent a Car helps travelers get around Dickinson, not everyone wants to rent a vehicle.

Elderly and disabled Dickinson residents will also be affected, though there is Elder Care transportation service.

Jon Frantsvog, St. Benedict's Health Center CEO, said while Elder Care helps many residents, it can't meet all of their needs.

"We have persons that have dialysis offered on days when Elder Care is not running and so we rely on the cab service to help our residents get back and forth for that," Frantsvog said. "Depending on how days are going at the clinic, sometimes appointments go past Elder Care hours."

He said St. Benedict's owns a wheelchair-accessible van, but they would rather utilize a cab.

Kessel added many Dickinson State University students also use the cab.

Colleen Rodakowski, executive director at Elder Care, said she is unsure whether Elder Care, which runs 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., would operate evenings and weekends.

"At this point I think we need to step back and reevaluate what has happened," Rodakowski said. "We are seriously looking at this because we know the importance. It's critical for the citizens of Dickinson to able to get around."