Crossing guards play important role in keeping children safeApr 05, 2021 12:48PM ● By Jackie Kartchner
CENTERVILLE—Centerville and Farmington have outstanding crossing guards, that’s according to police officers who work with them. One in particular has been crossing in Centerville for 28 years. Her name is Vicki Veater, and she is at J.A. Taylor Elementary, crossing students at 400 East and Elbert Avenue.
She got started when she quit her corporate job after her fourth baby was born and someone suggested she become a school crossing guard. “I thought it would be nice,” Veater said. “It doesn’t take a lot of time.” It makes it possible for her to volunteer at the school and in the PTA. She also feels like it is a good way to get out.
Veater loves the children and often talks to them about the books they are reading. “I love to read,” she said.
She said the children are what has kept her going for so many years. “They’re good kids. They really are.”
Veater has seen a lot of changes over the years, particularly in fashion. The styles worn in the 70s and 80s are coming back, such as tie-dyed clothing and neon colors. She has also seen more students walking to school.
One great change is the remote control for the school-zone lights. She used to have to climb up on snow banks to turn on and off the lights. It was difficult and unsafe.
She has also had as few unusual experiences. Her favorite was when she saw a moose going down the street, being followed by animal control. Another time, a man went racing through the crosswalk. When he realized what he had just done, he stopped, walked across the street and apologized. Veater was surprised and impressed.
In Farmington, Kari Broderick and Janna Tolman also go above and beyond. They operate the busiest intersection at State Street and Main, serving Farmington Elementary.
Broderick said she chose to be a school crossing guard because she likes kids. She is a foster parent and has 10 children of her own. Broderick said she loves the flexibility of the job, so she can spend time with her own kids. This is her third year.
This intersection provides for some frightening experiences at times, she said. “The worst was when a driver ran a red light. Because she didn’t stop, she came within inches of a young girl that was just stepping off the curb. I started screaming. The driver didn’t seem to notice, but the poor girl was upset and crying. It took a while to calm her down.”
This kind of incident could be avoided if drivers became aware of a few simple rules of school zone safety, said Broderick. They must slow down to a speed of 20 mph and stop when the crossing guard is in the street, holding a stop sign. They should not proceed until the guard is out of the road.
Even though the intersection of State and Main has a traffic light, it is particularly troublesome because of drivers making right and left turns, she said. The guards place a cone to block the right-turn lane while students are crossing, but some drivers then turn from the inside lane, creating a dangerous situation. Mornings are usually worse there because people are hurrying on their way to work and school.
Janna Tolman, who is in her second year as a crossing guard, said she took the job because she enjoys being with kids. It’s also a nice way to earn extra money without having to work more than 10 hours a week which gives her time to help her children with homework.
Tolman has had some close calls while on duty too. “I almost got hit last year,” she said. A big pick-up truck came within inches of her and when the driver saw her, he looked shocked and then apologetic. “I’ve learned a lot,” Tolman said. “Now I try to make eye contact with the drivers.”