The chair of the Fairfield Local School Travel Plan Committee said a proposed Safe Route to School plan for the district has more to do about safety than just infrastructure improvements.
Dr. Corey Cockerill, associate professor of communication arts and agriculture at Wilmington College and herself a parent, briefed county commissioners at their Monday morning meeting about the grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation that would fund sidewalk construction improvements at the school.
“We have a state-ranked cross country team and they do amazing things,” she said. “But they’re running on the berm of a state highway and it scares the heck out of me.”
She told commissioners that as a parent, when she sees ninth and tenth graders running on the berm of SR 771, “What’s running through my mind when I go to pick up my kids is when my kids get to be that age, there is no way I’m letting them do that.”
Fairfield Local’s Safe Route to School project had its beginnings in the summer of 2017 when a group of citizens, business owners and school board members had a meeting to discuss the steps necessary to develop a safer travel plan for the district, with a special focus on safer crossings and sidewalks to connect the school complex with the Village of Leesburg.
The student travel plan developed by her committee was approved by ODOT on Feb. 4, with Monday, March 4 being the deadline for submitting the grant application.
In light of the deadline, commissioners voted unanimously to issue a letter of recommendation supporting the plan.
Professional engineer and surveyor James Henry of E.P. Ferris and Associates of Columbus met with commissioners last week with details on the proposed infrastructure improvement for phase one of the project.
According to documentation supplied to The Times-Gazette from Ferris and Associates with modifications addressed by Cockerill, phase one would consist primarily of a six-foot wide sidewalk along the north side of SR 771 beginning at the main entrance drive to the school property.
It would then continue for approximately 900 feet to the existing four-foot wide sidewalk at the village of Leesburg corporation limit adjacent to the industrial park, with a flashing beacon warning signal at the one crosswalk location.
In the engineer’s estimate of cost for phase one improvements, which included engineering design and right-of-way, the grant would cover 100 percent of the costs identified including a 15 percent contingency and 9 percent inflation rate through fiscal year 2023.
The Fairfield Board of Education and the Village of Leesburg would cover any costs over and above the approved grant funding, the document concluded.
“When we progress to phase two, we’ll connect to the village,” she said. “And in phase three, we’ll connect all the athletic complexes.”
Also in attendance at the Monday morning meeting was Dr. Rindy Matthews, chairman of the Fairfield Board of Edcation, and Tracy Evans, fiscal officer for the Village of Leesburg.
In other matters, commissioners approved a resolution permitting the Highland County engineer to award a nearly $70,000 bid for reinforced concrete storm sewer pipe to Rinker Materials, while another resolution was passed allowing the engineer to reject a bid for reinforced concrete box culverts.
A third resolution approved by commissioners granted approval to the Highland County Board of Elections to dispose of old voting equipment that had been determined to be obsolete and no longer needed for public use.
Also Monday, a nearly $4,300 quote for repairs was accepted from Otis Elevator Service for repair to the elevator phone system in the Highland County Administration Building, which was found to not be fully functional during a recent inspection.
Commissioners decided to solicit outside bids for the fire extinguisher inspection service contract, and upon receipt of bids from several different companies, the lowest bid came from Irwin’s Fire Equipment of New Vienna, with commissioner Jeff Duncan saying that he received a good report on the company and that they would be “more than adequate to handle the needs we have.”
It was determined that more information was needed before commissioners would issue a formal endorsement and letter of approval for the Get Worker FIT program.
Creed Culbreath, an investigator with the Highland County Coroner’s Office and a member of REACH for Tomorrow, appeared before the board last week representing the career assessment and jobs training program, which is currently being evaluated in Adams County.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.