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Traffic safety grants benefit Jefferson County JVS pupils

SAFETY FIRST — The Jefferson County Joint Vocational School’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America organization received Families Acting for Community Traffic Safety grants totaling $2,000 to highlight vehicle and seat belt safety. School Resource Officer Bill Timko has led presentations with early childhood education students on vehicle safety while the FCCLA will give sweet rewards to students who buckle up behind the wheel. Here, Timko rewards student Lucia Burton for wearing her seat belt. -- Contributed

BLOOMINGDALE — Students at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School are learning valuable lessons about traffic safety thanks to a recent grant allocation.

Early childhood education students in the Family Career and Community Leaders of America organization gained two Families Acting for Community Traffic Safety grants totaling $2,000 which are being used to highlight vehicle and seat belt safety. FACTS is a national FCCLA peer education program through which students strive to save lives through personal, vehicle and road safety. The goal is to educate others and support the enforcement of local rules and regulations regarding community traffic safety.

FCCLA Adviser Becky Kelley said it was the second year that the group received funding but COVID-19 forced a change of plans to implement projects.

“We got two $1,000 grants through FCCLA’s traffic safety program and picked seat belt safety and preparing your car for winter and making sure it is safe. We chose from a list and thought there were opportunities for winter maintenance and students should know what to check in their cars.”

Kelley added that the Ohio State Highway Patrol conducted a distracted driving program last year complete with special goggles to mimic impairment, but outside visits were curtailed due to safety protocols. However, School Resource Officer Bill Timko agreed to lead separate presentations for 20 juniors and seniors since the school has been operating in a hybrid format during the pandemic.

Students received a winter readiness checklist itemizing such details as checking battery connections and cold cranking amps; checking battery connections for corrosion; reviewing cooling systems for leaks and fluid levels; checking the depth of tire treads; checking tire pressure on all tires including the spare; ensuring the vehicle has a jack and tire tool; checking wipers for excessive wear; checking wiper fluids, vehicle fluids and filters for pre-winter service; checking defrosters; reviewing all lights and turn signals; and always having a half-tank of fuel when traveling.

Timko, a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy, has provided a series of winter driving and car care tips and does plan to shift the focus to seat belts.

“(I’ve discussed) checking the battery, tire treads, tips on stopping at a mechanic’s shop for air pressure and fluid checks before going on long trips, keeping items in the vehicle from blankets and flares to bottled water,” he commented. “There are also tips if they get stuck, such as letting the engine run intermittently and making sure they carry a map since GPS doesn’t work everywhere. Most of the juniors don’t drive but it helps get them prepared and into the right mindset. At some point, we will do a seatbelt safety program. The patrol does it every year, but with COVID we’re taking it over and doing it ourselves. We’ll try to get students to understand that seat belts are not only regulated under state law but they also save lives.”

Kelley added that the latter program will involve checks to ensure students are wearing them, and those who are caught doing the good deed will receive candy with a note of thanks for taking the time to stay safe.

“We want to show the students that we care and want them to be safe, so we are giving them tools they need to check their cars and understand seatbelt safety,” she said. “It also limited contact but gives them a chance to have fun.”

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