Taking time for traffic

June 10, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

Dodie Green said she doesn't consider herself an activist.

But Green said she has struggled for seven years to resolve a traffic issue at Bester Elementary School.

Between her job, her family and her efforts to raise awareness of safety issues she says exist at Bester, Green hasn't had time for many other interests, she said. She's a cook at the Funkstown Moose Lodge in the evenings, and helps care for her ailing mother during the day.

"I don't have time for fun," she said. "I write letters."

Green said she began volunteering at Bester Elementary when the oldest of her three daughters was a student there.

She also served on the school's Citizens Advisory Council. She noticed a problem - too many cars and students on what she saw as a collision course with each other as parents tried to get their children to and from school.

"The CAC sat down and set regulations" for traffic at the school, she said. "Things were better until they routed a second lane of traffic" through drop-off points.


So began a new crusade to change traffic patterns at Bester - letters to the School Board, phone calls, a petition drive. The situation got so intense that Bester Principal Drenna Reineck banned Green from school property last month.

Reineck doesn't fault Green for her concerns and said they've gotten along until now.

"She's been an advocate for the school in the past," Reineck said, and "she's a strong advocate for what she believes in; she has a lot of tenacity. But what's appropriate to some people may not be appropriate to others.

"She's right - there is converging traffic there. But I've done everything I can."

Green said she sees two problems - buses she believes should be carrying more students and traffic patterns that put children at risk. She said she's not alone.

"The way it's shown is that everybody made it like it's a personal issue ... like I'm the only one yelling about this. I wasn't the one who called the TV or the newspaper this last time," she said.

"All people saw was me standing out in front with a sign. They didn't see seven years of meetings and calls and letters."

Karla Heinrich served with Green on the Citizens' Advisory Council for a while.

"I think she's a concerned parent," Heinrich said. "She's pretty knowledgeable. She's very nice, very friendly.

"But I've always stayed neutral. I think she has a right to her opinion," Heinrich said. "But there's only so much Mrs. Reineck can do. She's not the Board of Education, and their whole focus is not on Bester Elementary."

Green's oldest child has left Bester and the youngest hasn't yet started, but the daughter in the middle does catch a little flak, she said.

"She's had some people say things to her. But we've had discussions about people's rights and how government works, and how you can change things."

She said some of the complaints she's heard about her petition drive are unfounded.

"Most of the people I talked to were dying to sign my petition," she said. "I had 60 signatures in 25 minutes. I can't force that kind of support.

"And I am not uneducated enough to cuss anybody out or give the school a reason" to complain, she said.

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