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Baxter Springs Approve for Stoplight at Deadly Intersection:Sear - KOAM TV 7

Baxter Springs Approve for Stoplight at Deadly Intersection:Searching for Funding

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BAXTER SPRINGS, KANSAS -

  A dangerous intersection in Baxter Springs, Kansas is approved for a stoplight but the school district faces a funding challenge to get it there.

Math teacher Kris Crotts directs cars driving into the Baxter Springs middle and high school parking lot. A line forms of those trying to leave after dropping off students. Trying to merge onto alternate 69 usually follows.

Crotts said, “We see some pretty close calls. It’s just kind of dangerous pulling out on the highway there."

There’s a lane to pull into the parking lot but another next to it continues north. That  makes it hard to see oncoming traffic for those exiting the lot.

Soon to be senior Sarah Spencer said, “They're going pretty fast. It’s a major road. I don’t think that high school kids are really responsible enough to pull out on that kind of road."

The district has tried for some time to get a stoplight. A big push was made in 2008, after Dorothy Rarick died at the intersection. She was  a grandparent of students at the school.

Middle school principal Jason Walker remembers, “We had another close call a year or two after that. It just keeps coming up every year." 

A truck driver hits the brakes as he passes the flashing light indicating a 35 mile per hour school zone but officials believe stopping would be better. That would give those entering the highway from the school a green light.   Student drivers like that idea. Spencer said, “I think it would be safer. You don't have to like stop, look both ways.  You could just go without having to worry. I just think it would be a lot safer."

Senior Mason Hartley agreed, “I’ve seen some people not look both ways and have to slam on the brakes."

After multiple traffic studies the Kansas Department of Transportation finally approved a permit for a stop light but without funding. That created a   new challenge for the district and community. Estimates put the light at two hundred thousand dollars.

Superintendent David Pendergraft is now searching for funding. "I believe one of the grants we'll be applying for will be ninety-five percent funded through the state and five percent locally. That would be a great one if we can get approved for that."

City officials are on board but admit money is tight. Mayor Randall Trease said, "Since the tornado came through here, we lost some of our business and housing and so forth and so on. The city's running on a pretty close budget. We have to watch what we do but if we have to do something, ante up,  to save somebody's life out there we'll do whatever's necessary  to do."

After at least two fatalities here in the last twenty years, the superintendent says finding funding can’t come soon enough. Pendergraft says traffic was less this day because half the students were exempt from exams.  He'll meet with city officials and county commissioners next week.

 Senator Jake LaTurner helped the district fight for the permit for the light.

 He's also efforting to get state funding.

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