School crossing guards take to streets

Seven of 14 new guards now trained by sheriff’s office will man busy intersections near public schools

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006

At 80 years old, Charles Bare is a relatively quiet man, but when he slips on his crossing guard vest, that all changes.

Adorned in the bright, Day-Glo yellow mesh vest, Bare firmly holds a florescent, flashing orange traffic baton in front of his body, reinforcing his stance with an order of “stop“ to oncoming cars, while softly directing walkers to cross behind him.

The retiree is just one of seven county residents spending their mornings and afternoons directing students and motorists at elementary schools as the first class of crossing guards freshly trained by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Last February, Tuscarora Elementary School PTA member Tracy Grubb started a movement to shift crossing guard duties from a volunteer basis to one organized under the sheriff’s office to provide oversight and liability coverage for interested residents.

Nearly a year later, after the identification of 14 county intersections in need and more than $240,000 in funding from county commissioners, the grassroots movement has finally become a reality.

“This is fabulous,“ Grubb said about the freshly trained crop of crossing guards. “Volunteers are great, but the nature of it is you do things when you can for that reason, it’s good to have the program in place and under the sheriff’s office because this is a public safety issue.“

Having undergone a multi-week process of applications, interviews, background checks, drug screening and other tests and training, the class counts a retired school custodian, a former IBM secretary and two mothers of current elementary students among its membership.

None of them are in this for the money, although they are compensated at $11.50 an hour, with a three-hour minimum per day, and are covered by the sheriff’s office if they get injured on the job.

Currently, the Frederick Police Department oversees crossing guards in city schools while Middletown and Thurmont also oversee their own programs.

Cpl. Jody Maybush, who oversees the program, did his best to match high traffic areas with where the guards live.

“We looked at the schools with the highest number of walkers, and as this is a part-time position, we tried to put these folks close to their homes,“ he said.

Bare, who lives in Frederick, is assigned to Orchard Grove Elementary School, and has previous traffic enforcement experience. Following a career at Fort Ritchie working in the operations branch and as a city police officer, he volunteered as a crossing guard at 12th Street and Motter Avenue for North Frederick Elementary School before signing up with the sheriff’s office.

“It’s about watching the kids, as small as they are,“ Bare said. “I heard about this in the newspaper and was already helping out, so I signed up.“

Like Bare, Stephanie Reamy also has experience as a crossing guard. As one of the parent volunteers through Tuscarora Elementary’s PTA, she has spent the last year helping walkers get to and from the school where two of her children are students.

“Our school community saw a need and we, as volunteers, stepped up to meet that need,“ she said. “It’s nice to see that the county commissioners recognized that need as well and we are here to fill it.“

Crossings covered

This week marks the debut of seven new crossing guards trained by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. The intersections and schools now manned with guards are:

Ballenger Creek Elementary: Kingsbrook Drive in front of the school

Orchard Grove Elementary: Crestwood Boulevard and Hannover Drive

Brunswick Elementary: West B Street and Florida Avenue

Spring Ridge Elementary School: Ridgefield Drive and Brookhaven Drive

Twin Ridge Elementary: Leafy Hollow Road and Deer Hollow Road

Myersville Elementary: Lushbaugh Drive and Main Street

Tuscarora Elementary: Tennison Drive in front of the school