by Rick Langenberg:
If you want to disobey traffic rules in Green Mountain Falls, don’t try your luck around school buses. This message was relayed loud and clear last week by GMF Marshal Tim Bradley, the board of trustees and several parents. During a public discussion at the Oct. 2 board of trustees meeting, elected leaders expressed strong support for a no-nonsense approach in arresting motorists who violate the mandatory stops and speeding restrictions around school buses.
Bradley noted that he is taking a “no-warning” stand, with mandatory tickets for these types of violations. The marshal and several key civic leaders indicated that the safety of local school kids is at stake. While town leaders may have had mixed views regarding Bradley’s stringent crackdown against speeders last year, they were unanimous in supporting a tough stand in enforcing school bus-related traffic rules. “Aggressive law enforcement is what is needed,” said Marshall Worthey, a former trustee and the husband of the mayor, Lorrie Worthey. As a former bus driver, he cited this as the best solution to curb the antics of irresponsible motorists. This comment set the tone for a “throw the book at them” attitude regarding a small number of motorists who are refusing to stop, when school buses are picking up or dropping off kids, and are speeding off at a torrid pace and even giving concerned parents obscene gestures. In turn, some parents have tried to pursue the violators themselves.
One family, who attended last week’s session, suggested installing signs or having more defined crosswalks. They revealed a few horrific stories of abusive motorists, who show no respect for school kids. A letter was also written by a Ute Pass Elementary student, expressing similar concerns about motorists stopping for school buses. “It is appropriate to protect these kids,” said long-time trustee member Mac Pitrone. “School safety is critical,” added trustee and former mayor Tyler Stevens. That said, the trustees weren’t too excited about using signs to better enforce the rules. A few council members wondered if people would really observe warning signs that closely. Crosswalks also can only achieve so much, noted Bradley. “Crosswalks have to be dealt with common sense,” said the marshal. Instead, Bradley made the guarantee to enforce a “no-warning” policy regarding tickets for violators of school bus-related infractions and to closely pursue the buses during their routes in the morning. In addition, the mayor said she plans to meet with district school officials to further evaluate steps the town can take to assure the safety of kids. In other law enforcement issues, a brief discussion occurred last week regarding the health status of GMF police officer Felix Torres, who was recently hospitalized.
This situation has sparked a certain amount of media coverage in Colorado Springs. Bradley stated that he was surprised to receive a phone call from a Colorado Springs television station regarding the officer’s status with the town as only a part-time employee. With his current employment status, Torres can’t receive full health care coverage for his recent bout against cancer, which may require an operation. Torres isn’t expected to return to duty until early next year, according to Bradley. Bradley sympathized with the officer’s plight and wished him the best. At the same time, the marshal made it clear that Torres’ status as a part-time employee has been that way for at least a year and suggested that some of the recent media reports aren’t quite accurate. Several trustees also complained that the town is being portrayed in these reports as extremely cheap. In the future, they said they would like to hear about any potential health situations prior to getting hammered in the media. In response to these concerns, Bradley noted that Torres’ health dilemma was extremely sudden and couldn’t be predicted. And as for Torres’ part-time status, Bradley emphasized that during last year’s budget discussions, a decision was made to have two part-time officers rather than to retain one full-time office. “It was in the best interests of the town,” said Bradley. “This enabled us to provide better (law enforcement) coverage for the town.” The trustees agreed with this position. A current fund has been started to support Felix Torres at the Pikes Peak Credit Union in Colorado Springs.
For more information, call 473-5962. In other GMF news, the board has set Nov. 6 as the date for picking a new trustee to fill a vacancy. Three applicants are vying for the position. These include Margaret Peterson, David Cook and Michael Butts. Interviews will be conducted during the trustee meeting on Nov. 6 and a vote will then follow to select the top candidate.