Super safety

Before the sun topped the trees Friday morning, Barry Redmond directed traffic in front of Newton-Conover High School.

Redmond is superintendent of Newton-Conover City Schools.

"Bottom line, it's a safety concern out here," he said. "This is my volunteer thing. I really do it because I don't want my staff to be out here. It's a bit dangerous."

Redmond said traffic congests the intersection at North Ashe Avenue and West 15th Street between 7:30 and 7:40 a.m. So the school system and Newton Police Department developed a traffic pattern to help vehicles and pedestrians flow safely in all directions.

A Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) commander and gunnery sergeant direct traffic most afternoons and when Redmond is unavailable some mornings.

"We say 'whatever it takes,' and we try to live by that," Redmond said. "I wouldn't ask anybody to do anything I wouldn't do. Our police department's great to help us and come out. They're at five (schools) already helping with traffic flow. We have a great relationship with them."

Law enforcement also helps direct traffic at Catawba County Schools, said Superintendent Glenn Barger.

"Principals usually make contact through resource officers or the sheriff's department for help with a specific traffic problem," Barger said. "For example, Startown Elementary is in our district and Newton P.D. provides assistance down there."

Barger said law enforcement has often helped direct traffic at Sherrills Ford Elementary School. He said the safety assistance is free.

"At the beginning of school, it's more of a problem than later on," he said. "Parents in the first weeks of school bring kids to the schools so traffic backs up. After that, many start riding buses and traffic is less of a problem."

Redmond said parents can help traffic flow in the afternoons at Newton-Conover High School by coming after the final bell rings at 2:40 p.m. and students are ready to leave.

He said traffic often backs up before the school day ends.