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Volunteer crossing guards at Lincoln

Crossing guard Julie Welding holds a sign Friday to stop any traffic as students and parents use the 4th Avenue Northwest crosswalk near Washington Elementary School in Jamestown. Noridian employees are starting a volunteer crossing guard program at Lincoln Elementary on Monday. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Traffic concerns at Lincoln Elementary School in Jamestown, prompted a volunteer crossing guard effort that starts Monday when school lets out at 3 p.m.

Julie Mayhair, a business project analyst at Noridian Healthcare Solutions, said people have talked about the traffic around the school. Some of them said they would help, which is a sign that someone needed to take some initiative, she said.

"A lot of times when there is a need, it just takes somebody to get it started and hopefully that is what we can do," Mayhair said. "Then we can turn it into more of a community-based thing to support the kids and make sure they get across the streets safely."

Many of Lincoln Elementary School's 226 students walk to nearby parking lots a block or more away after school where parents wait to avoid congestion of cars parked around Lincoln school, Mayhair said. Noridian is in the Jamestown Business Center, which is a block from the school.

"We'll be a big group walking together," Mayhair said. "We are kind of hoping to make people aware to slow down coming around that corner."

The corner mentioned is Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue Northeast, where Isabella Sandstrom, an 11-year-old Lincoln student, was struck and seriously injured by a truck while crossing the intersection one block from school on Nov. 9. She suffered a skull fracture, broken arm and leg, and numerous internal injuries.

"When that unfortunate accident happened I called the school the following Monday," Mayhair said. "I said this is what we need to do because that is a dangerous corner even for adults to cross."

The hope is that people in the community who see the crossing guards might see this as a way to make a difference and volunteer themselves, she said.

"Noridian came to us after the accident with a wonderful community service idea for Lincoln school," said Sherry Schmidt, principal of Lincoln Elementary School. "We ordered vests and stop signs for the volunteers."

Schmidt and Mayhair met with Andrew Staska, the school resource officer for the school district, who serves as the liaison with the city of Jamestown, she said. He provided guidance regarding laws and requirements of volunteer crossing guards, she said.

Staska said the volunteer crossing guards will be at Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street Northeast; Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue Northeast, and at Third Avenue and Fourth Street. The kids will walk as a group with the volunteers from one crossing to the other, he said.

"The first few days will be telling and provide everyone with a better understanding of how to cross students and where the biggest needs are," Staska said.

The kids also have to be ready, Schmidt said. The teachers walked the students through the planned crossing guard intersections Thursday to be ready for Monday, she said.

"There will be some learning curves but this is an awesome idea for kids safety and with community involvement," she said.

Pedestrian safety issues present new challenges each year as student sometimes form different patterns walking to and from school, Schmidt said. Other efforts were to move buses away from the front of the school so that kids were not darting between them into traffic on Fifth Street Northeast, she said.

The crossing guards help avoid the same issues with the cars, she said.

The community interest with pedestrian safety around the schools is clear, said Robert Lech, superintendent of Jamestown Public School District. The school district has received a federal grant in partnership with Central Valley Health and the city of Jamestown to create or improve pedestrian safety zones around schools, he said.

Noridian made itself a part of that solution, Lech said. It is representative of community support and provides another layer of safety for our students, he said.

"It is a wonderful gesture for which we are greatly appreciative," Lech said.