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A service of the Bradford County Telegraph, Inc.

UC officials get DOT to move school zone sign back

BY VINCENT ALEX BROWN

Times Editor

Before the school year began, the Florida Department of Transportation installed new and better school zone signs along S.R. 121 in Lake Butler to enhance the safety of students crossing the street every day.

New flashing signs on posts by the side of the road are easier to see than the overhead signs they replaced.

What wasn’t better was “shrinking” the school zone, as Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead described it by moving the sign east of the Lake Butler Elementary School westward about 100 yards. That provided less protection to parents walking their children to Tiger Den Day Care east of the elementary school.

Worse yet, DOT didn’t tell the sheriff or even the Union County School Board. Parents started calling Whitehead to ask him why the change was made.

To add insult to injury, when county officials requested that the sign be moved back to its original location, the DOT engineer in charge of the project would not budge. It’s a position he later regretted, Whitehead said. The engineer didn’t know whom he was dealing with.

As school board member Becky Raulerson reported on her Facebook page, State Rep. Charles Van Zant accompanied Sheriff Whitehead, Lt. Lyn Williams, School Superintendent Carlton Faulk and school board member Alvin Griffis to a meeting with DOT administrators in Lake City this past Monday morning.

“As a result of the meeting, and our community’s dedicated leadership in seeing that this issue get resolved, the DOT has agreed to move the sign,” she said. “Thanks to everyone involved for staying committed and seeing to it that our students go to school in the safest environment possible!”

Raulerson explained that, “Basically, DOT followed their regulations on what defines an area as a ‘school zone’ (which is within so many feet of a crosswalk). There is only one crosswalk for LBES. Thus, where the sign was placed was at the end of their definition of a school zone.”

Whitehead and Faulk said Van Zant was instrumental and “did a good job.”

According to Whitehead, the sign should be moved within 30 to 60 days.

Lake Butler City Manager Dave Mecusker said that now that the signs have been installed on the side of the road instead of overhead, the city will move the few trees that block their view.

He and others praised Whitehead and the sheriff’s office, the school board and Van Zant for their successful efforts.

As someone observed: “It’s funny how things can change when you get the right people involved.”

It was one of many hard lessons learned by a certain DOT engineer.

The other? Union County is passionate about taking care of its kids and Tigers of all ages.

In front of Lake Butler Elementary School and Tiger Den Day Care, the double wires over the street show the location of the original school zone sign in comparison to the location of the new one, which is about 100 yards down the road.

In front of Lake Butler Elementary School and Tiger Den Day Care, the double wires over the street show the location of the original school zone sign in comparison to the location of the new one, which is about 100 yards down the road.

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