Madison receives $35,500 safety grant
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
The city of Madison and the Madison Central School District were awarded $35,500 as a grant from state officials who supervise South Dakota's Safe Routes to School program.|
The city will use the money to purchase and install traffic signs that will assist motorists and improve safety for student pedestrians and bike riders. The school district's proposal for the grant funds included distribution of bike helmets to students.
"A lot of different things were included in our application, but these items were the ones that received support from the Safe Routes to School program," said Chad Comes, Madison's city engineer.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it has awarded nearly $900,000 in grants to 10 South Dakota communities as part of the Safe Routes to School program. The selected communities will provide about $24,700 as local or in-kind matches.
According to Comes, the city plans to install signs along the routes to three Madison schools. However, city officials will need to follow a procedure to officially gain approval for the project. The procedure includes having the sign installation placed in the newest State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) that SDDOT officials will release this fall.
Distributing bike helmets to students was one of the ideas that Cotton Koch, principal at Madison Middle School, brought to the local committee that worked on the grant application. The goals of the Safe Routes program include helping and encouraging all children to walk and bicycle to school.
Koch said that the helmet program should receive about $750 with the money allocated to Madison Elementary, Madison Middle School and St. Thomas. He estimated that the program could give away 30 to 40 bike helmets.
"It is my understanding that we will receive the funding in October," Koch said. "The administrators of the three (schools) will visit this fall and determine how to allocate the dollars."
He added that the schools could work with East River Electric Power Cooperative and its annual bike rodeo and bike safety camp.
The committee members who worked on the grant application included Comes; Colleen Davis of St. Thomas School; Cami Sims, Jennie Thompson and Vince Schaefer from the Madison Central School District; Paul Woodruff of East River Electric; Madison Police Chief Chuck Pulford; and City Commissioner Mike Waldner.
Later this year, city commissioners and school board members will need to approve measures OK'ing the city's and school district's plans for the grant money.
The largest award of about $199,700 went to the city of Elk Point for sidewalks and Americans with Disabilities Act-compatible curb ramps, as well as education and incentive programs.
Eight other communities receiving awards were Alcester, $115,700; Big Stone City, $173,400; Centerville, $8,230; Dell Rapids, $50,300; Estelline, $106,500; Iroquois, $5,880; Valley Springs, $131,500; and Viborg, $11,900.
Grant applicants were asked to create unique Safe Routes to School programs that dealt with specific concerns within their community. The programs can include activities that encourage walking and biking, as well as small-scale construction projects to fill gaps in existing bicycle and pedestrian routes for school children.
Construction projects, like the one planned in Madison, can include sign and crosswalk improvements, driver feedback signs, and pedestrian and bicycle paths.
Noninfrastructure projects include incentive programs, safety and health education, law enforcement assistance, safety campaigns, bicycle rodeo activities, bicycle physical-education programs, in-street yield signs, and pedestrian and bike programs.
Safe Routes to School was passed through the U.S. Congress to combat the growth of childhood obesity and diabetes. Officials in the medical community attribute the growth in those juvenile health problems to the decrease in children's physical activity.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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