You’d Better Watch Out: Police to help direct traffic at ECLC, keep an eye out for speeders during first week of school

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Aug 26, 2007 - How do you plan a strategy for mass confusion?

That's what police officers will face Monday morning when they begin directing traffic into and out of the Early Childhood Learning Center, one of the most dreaded rights of passage for parents taking their kids for their first day of school.

It's not so much that people aren't courteous or caring. But when hundreds of people converge at the same time, it can be quite confusing — enough so that Sulphur Springs police officers are always around to help the flow of kids and cards go more smoothly.

"We'll have officers at both intersections directing traffic," said Assistant Police Chief Robert Stidham, a longtime veteran of back-to-school traffic chaos who will be on hand at ECLC.

As in years past, all traffic coming into the ECLC grounds must enter at the south entrance.

Parents who just need to drop off students at the front door need only get in the right hand lane and wait there turn in line.

Parents who want to drop off children at the north entrance should stay in the left-hand lane and follow the line to the parking area.

Those who want to park and escort their children in should also use the left-hand lane and park in either the teacher parking area or north parking lot. The grassy area between the school and highway is also commonly used for this purpose the first days of school.

Added to the mix this year, however, is the continued construction on State Highway 19, which is being widened from two lanes to five lanes. Work contractors had hoped to have the road switched over the the five-lane pattern before school started, but the changeover will probably happen after morning traffic has subsided.

In a nutshell, that means vehicles exiting ECLC Monday morning will have to turn right (north) on SH 19, but may be able to go either direction when school lets out in the afternoon.

Either way, the officers should be around for quite some time, Stidham said.

"We expect to be there for the next two weeks," he said Friday.

"We know many parents will have a lot on their minds because it will the their children's first day of school," Stidham added. "We just ask them to be on the lookout for other kids, too."

ECLC won't the only school zone with a police presence next week, however — Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jim Bayuk said officers will be stationed at every campus in the city watching for speeders.

"Come Monday, there will be no grace period," said Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jim Bayuk. "If you don't see those flashing yellow lights, you're not paying attention."

Hopkins County Sheriff Butch Adams also said motorists should expect to find deputies keeping watch on school zones outside the city limits, as well.

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