published Monday, August 18th, 2014

Child safety is a top priority in Jasper

Pryor Street in Jasper, Tenn., which runs alongside Jasper Middle School, will become one-way in the afternoons.
Pryor Street in Jasper, Tenn., which runs alongside Jasper Middle School, will become one-way in the afternoons.
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    Pryor Street in Jasper, Tenn., runs alongside Jasper Middle School.
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JASPER, Tenn. — City leaders have changed the rules for Pryor Street alongside Jasper Middle School in an effort to ensure children's safety each afternoon.

The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously last week to make the street one-way between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. each school day.

The entire street, starting behind the school at Cumberland Avenue and continuing to the stop sign at Elm and College streets, will be one-way.

"That will allow the buses to line up there and pick up the children, so that they don't have to walk in front of any traffic," Mayor Paul Evans said.

Mack Reeves, Marion County Schools director of attendance and transportation, requested the change after examining the bus loading situation over the summer.

Officials said they are trying to avoid a potential tragedy like the one that occurred in April when a 6-year-old boy was struck and killed by a bus at Chattanooga Valley Elementary School in Flintstone, Ga.

"In light of what happened last [school] year, they're trying to change the pickup of school children at Jasper Middle School," Evans said. "They're trying to prevent any child from walking in front of a bus."

To bring the matter before the board, Evans asked that everyone involved with the change, including residents on the other side of the road, agree on it.

"They did," he said. "All four [residents] said that it doesn't affect them."

Right now, the only street sign" is a teacher standing at the road directing other traffic away from the area, Alderman Paul "Mac" Bumpus said.

City Attorney Mark Raines, who is also the school system's attorney, said the school board could seek County Road Superintendent Neal Webb's assistance to get the proper signs in place along the road.

"I'm pretty sure the school system can come up with the signs," he said.

Police Chief Tim Graham said he sees the school system's point because he drove a school bus for years.

"If the people that live there don't have a problem with it, I sure don't," he said. "We'll enforce it the best we can. If it's helping the safety of a child, I'm in. I'd do anything to help with that."

Evans said there are no problems with unloading students in the morning, so the one-way will only be in effect during that designated afternoon hour.

He said a one-hour change shouldn't cause any major problems.

"We'll do anything that we can do to help protect a child," Bumpus said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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