When students at Jarvis Middle School reach the crosswalk at the intersection of Grove and West Main streets in Mohawk, they often have to wait, and still wait, before they can cross Main Street.
There is currently no regular crossing guard at the intersection, although the position has been advertised since the summer, when the crossing guard who held the position for 23 years retired.
“We advertised on Facebook and in the newspapers,” said Police Chief Joseph Malone. Only one person applied and that person was not qualified, he added.
“We always advertise. We know it’s a concern, ”said the chief. Police help when they can, he said, but with only one officer on patrol during the day, they are not always available.
This means there is no one to help the kids across the street, and that’s a problem, according to JoAnn Duga. She picks up her grandson after school most of the time and sees cars parked on Grove and Main streets, waiting for the children to be released.
The situation isn’t as bad in the morning when the kids are dropped off, she said, but the afternoon pickup time is another matter.
“The traffic is going way too fast for these kids to cross unassisted,” she said in a Facebook post. “It’s paid work. Inquire immediately with Mohawk PD.
Duga is also concerned that cars parked on West Main Street are blocking the visibility of children and drivers.
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She said she had replaced the regular crossing guard in the past and sometimes stepped in to help children cross the street, “but I don’t have a stop sign or a life jacket.” In one case, a driver simply walked around her and waved to her while she was on the street trying to stop traffic.
The school district is aware of the problem. Central Valley School Superintendent Jeremy Rich said the district has contacted the village about the situation.
“The village is trying to find people to do it, and they are struggling to fill the position,” he said in an email.
On a recent Friday, cars started lining up on Grove and West Main streets shortly after 2 p.m. to wait to pick up the students.
At approximately 2:30 p.m., vehicles began to move and some students walked down Grove Street to the intersection with West Main Street. Some crossed as soon as they spotted a traffic disruption. The pace of traffic picked up as another group of students reached the intersection and waited, watching for an opportunity to cross. A woman got out of her car, entered the crosswalk and shouted at a driver heading west, “When you see children, stop”.
The children rushed into the street. When asked if they usually have to wait to cross, they said yes.
“It takes forever,” said one boy.
Signs at the crosswalk warn children could cross the street, and a free-standing sign next to the road says state law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Uniform traffic control rules allow signs that mention the school or reduce the speed limit only if the school is on that street, Malone said.
The village has a sergeant on Columbia Street, and the mayor and village council, as well as the police department, have also committed to fill the position on Main Street, the chief said.
The Times Telegram reached out to neighboring communities to ask if they had had similar problems filling brigadier posts.
Fewer crossing guards needed
Chief Herkimer Michael Jory said the village has a crossing guard, who is stationed at the intersection of Steuben and German streets.
“We had two, but after a start we didn’t replace him,” he said. The location is determined based on the amount of traffic.
“We have not heard any complaints, but we are monitoring him,” he said. He did not have to replace a sergeant.
Ilion has a sergeant stationed on Barringer Road, near Barringer Road Primary School, according to Ilion Police Chief Timothy Parisi. There were four or five at a time, but following the merger of the Mohawk and Ilion schools to form the Central Valley district, most students are transported by bus or private vehicle.
He admits that the job is not for everyone. “It’s not a good salary. You are outside for an hour or an hour and a half in the morning and again in the afternoon. You have to deal with the elements. Still, some people dedicate themselves to the job and do it for years, he said, and admits he wondered how difficult it could be to fill a vacant position.
Malone said he appreciates the parents and grandparents who have helped Mohawk, but is hopeful someone will come forward to take the paid position on a regular basis. Applications are available at the village office and applicants must pass a background check.
Donna Thompson is the Times Telegram’s government and business reporter. Email him at [email protected]