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Flashing stop signs could help make school zones safer
BARSTOW • Some local school crossing guards say a small number of motorists make their jobs difficult and flashing handheld stop signs could help.
The Kiwanis Club of Barstow Crossroads gifted school officials Tuesday evening with eight new stops signs for the guards. They are equipped with flashing LED lights.
The club presented the signs to the Barstow Unified School District during a regular board meeting and earmarked funds for them through its annual wine auction, club secretary Elaine Villareal said.
“The whole idea was to make the crossing guards and children more safe,” Villareal said.
As school let out earlier Tuesday, safety was on the minds of Marie Cuhsnick and Patricia Roesch, two crossing guards at Cameron Elementary.
“I can stand with my sign right here and they won’t stop,” Cuhsnick said about some motorists who travel Muriel Drive. “I had to jump in front of a car (this morning) because it kept rolling.”
Cuhsnick, who has been a crossing guard at Cameron for three years, and Roesch, who has done the job for 19, are two of three monitoring student and parent pedestrians at the school.
They both say the majority of drivers respect the stop sign, walky-talky and bright-orange vest.
It’s the ones that don’t want to, Roesch said, that are the cause for concern.
Each had their own stories of vehicles slowly skirting around them or not wanting to wait until they were fully out of the street to go again.
“(Sometimes), I can feel the heat of the car behind me,” Cuhsnick said.
A sign with flashing lights should at the very least help keep drivers’ attention, they agreed.
“Especially in bad weather,” Roesch added.
At nearby Crestline Elementary, Jacqueline Riendeau has been a crossing guard for only a year.
But she has already seen enough of the traffic on Rimrock Road, where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour prior to the school zone, to tell a few of her own stories.
“I’m on my first day of school this year and it is pouring rain,” she said. “I asked the kids to stay behind me because one car just flew on by. They almost got hit.”
Riendeau thinks an occasional police presence would be beneficial.
Crestline’s interim Principal Shelley Bassham said she told the crossing guards at the beginning of the school year that requesting assistance from a school resource officer could be an option.
“If you feel you’re not getting people to stop regularly,” she told them, “I will talk to (our SRO) and get a black and white (police car) over here. It’s too easy to go fast on (Rimrock Road).”
Bassham and Riendeau reiterated, however, that the bad seeds thus far had been outweighed by the good ones.
Riendeau said a flashing stop sign was a worthy idea “if it was bright enough.”
The 3 p.m. rush at Cameron had nearly subsided and the number of students and families needing a guided walk across the street had dwindled.
Cuhsnick spoke of her attitude in particular toward speeding vehicles.
“If I see them speeding down the street, those are the ones I’ll jump out in front of (to stop),” she said. “I’ll take a hit before I let the kids take a hit.”
Shea Johnson can be reached at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4126.