Citizen children in Hayden hit the streets to make a difference
November 20, 2017
HAYDEN — The little boy sitting in the Hayden Town Council meeting Thursday evening seemed quite subdued for his big night. His dad Cactus Beauregard, no greenhorn when it comes to little boys, had set himself between 8-year-old Lynx and his 7-year-old brother Fisher.
With no chance of a pinch here or a kick there to distract him from his task, Lynx was ready to present his Citizenship Project to town council. He was there to lobby for some kind of light to keep pedestrians safe as they cross U.S. Highway 40 to get to school.
"I almost got hit by a car," explained young Lynx. "I always walk to school, and it's very annoying when cars don't stop."
As part of a third-grade Citizenship Project, teacher Courteney Famulare encourages students like Lynx to become involved in their community. It's been a part of her curriculum for years as a teacher in Soroco schools and now Hayden.
"It doesn't matter if it's a little thing or a big thing. It all makes a difference," Famulare said.
Students use their writing skills in a letter to their teacher to explain their projects and how they will help the community and what they learned from it.
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"Each year, there are new ideas that have never been done before," said Famulare.
In this case, Lynx and his family needed no prompting to figure out what his citizenship project would be.
"We walk to school every day" from our house downtown, said mom Chula. "Kids are always dodging traffic in the crosswalk, so we talk about it all the time."
In fact, Lynx showed Hayden Town Council members a photo he and his mom took of a Colorado Department of Transportation vehicle driving through the crosswalk while students try to cross. A chuckle went up from the crowd.
But the issue is no joke to councilman Tim Redmon, who's been trying to get the problem fixed for years.
"I don't know what it's going to take to get something done. I'll never forgive myself if someone gets killed," Redmon said.
Redmon and school board officials have been petitioning and meeting with CDOT for four years, begging the state to do a traffic study and encouraging state officials to make the drive through town for themselves — anything that would allow their children to safely cross the street at U.S. 40 and Third Street near the schools.
"It became apparent to me one day when I stopped at the crosswalk, and a young lady tried to cross," Redmon said. "She peered around my truck, and I realized there was a car pulled off the shoulder and was trying to drive around. She had experienced this before."
Lynx's presentation may have been the straw that broke the camel's back for the Town Council. Redmon is afraid to wait any longer for the state to do something and said Hayden may have to buy its own crosswalk light system.
But the problem is the state still owns the highway, and their engineers will have to approve anything that goes up.
"There's red tape involved," Redmon explained. "We've done projects before where the state engineers working on a project will quit or move and there'd be a new engineer. Then that delays things."
In the meantime, Famulare said her third-grade students are finishing up the last of their projects.
"I think over the years kids have done about 200 good deeds and have gotten some really great feedback and have felt so much pride as part of a community," Famulare said.
This year's projects include everything from cleaning police cars to picking up trash to giving a shark presentation to older residents at The Haven. Past citizenship projects included raising funds for a cancer center, cooking dinner for neighbors in need and writing to soldiers.
Back at the meeting, Lynx and his brother presented signed petitions they had gathered from local citizens to the Town Council and showed members drawings of the pedestrian problem and how it can be solved.
In the audience, school board member and downtown business owner Tammie Delaney was thrilled with the project.
"Highway 40 is a big issue, and in a small town, you can make a difference," Delaney said.