The American Red Cross will soon be ending regular office hours in New Milford and transferring its "Wheels" transportation program to the New Milford Senior Center Advisory board, a non-profit organization.

Changes are anticipated to begin April 1.

The Red Cross' focus will remain on disaster services, CPR training and its core programs, said Paul Shipman, Red Cross public relations director.

"We will continue to have a presence in the Richmond Center building," said Mr. Shipman, "but we are not going to have conventional office hours."

"Courses will continue to be offered in New Milford," he added, "and we will continue to respond to emergencies."

Emergency response 24/7 will continue to be available by calling the present New Milford office number, 860-354-3415. Calls will be automatically transferred to the Red Cross' national toll free number.

The Wheels program provides rides to medical appointments for seniors and ADA patients.

"We all feel the program is advantageous for the community," said Patricia Hammer, the board president. "We feel it is a fit for us to take over, as the office is already established in the Senior Center and the Red Cross will be transferring the office and equipment over to us."

Two cars now used for the Wheels program will also be transferred and some volunteer drivers have agreed to stay on, as has the volunteer office staff, Mrs. Hammer said.

"The main thing is that there will be no interruption in service to people who rely on the Wheels program," she added. "The Red Cross has been wonderful in working with us. It should be a good fit."