Janesville crossing guard knows his streets, children

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Thursday, September 2, 2010
— “Did you have a good summer?”

“How’s Smiley doing?”

Dennis Casey kept up a steady banter with Van Buren School children Wednesday as he helped them cross Oakhill Avenue, just down the street from their school.

The crossing guard seemed to know them all.

“Glad to see you,” one child said as he crossed Oakhill with a friend.

They were on their way home after their first day of the school year.

“Good to see you guys,” Casey responded.

Casey has worked 17 of the 18 crossings where the Janesville Police Department stations guards.

Armed only with yellow vests, red stop-sign paddles and their wits, the guards protect the smallest of schoolchildren at about 8 each morning and each afternoon starting at 3.

Speeding cars are the biggest problem, Casey said.

Two of the worst crossings are on Racine Street at Ringold Street, near St. John Vianney School, and at Milton Avenue and Memorial Drive near Adams School.

In both places, cars often exceed the limit by wide margins, he said.

But even on relatively sedate South Oakhill Avenue, Casey sees a need for drivers to tone it down.

Many are careful around the children, he said, but others are in too big of a hurry and don’t seem to care, perhaps because they’re late and are in a rush to get to work.

“Slow down and keep your eyes open,” Casey advised.

Speeders face hefty fines for violating the 15 mph limit in school zones, Janesville police Sgt. Brian Donohoue said.

Ignoring a crossing guard also will cost you a ticket of $175, Donohoue said.

Casey, a retired General Motors worker, has been working the Oakhill Avenue corner for about a year and a half.

“It’s a good job. You get to meet the kids and have fun with the kids. Once you get to know the parents, it gets to be fun. Everybody waves.”

Janesville police officer Todd Bailey drove by during Casey’s shift, waving a sheaf of warning slips

“Tomorrow it’ll be tickets. Today it’s warnings,” Bailey said.

Janesville police have two extra officers patrolling the elementary-school areas on the first three days of school, an effort to stop illegal parking and related violations that plague the schools.

One parent driving his daughter home from school paused to greet Casey. As the child waved and smiled at her crossing guard, the parent joked to a Gazette reporter: “Give him an ‘F’ for the day!”

Not likely. All of Casey’s charges crossed the street safely, with the added bonus of seeing a friendly, familiar face.

In anyone’s grade book, that’s got to be an “A.”

Last updated: 3:04 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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