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Montpelier Elementary School Cross-walk Safety Beacon Failed on First Day of School

Today's sunny and otherwise pleasant start of a new school year at Montpelier Elementary was tainted by the chronically broken cross-walk safety beacon at Lanner Road just west of the school cross-walk across Muirkirk Raceway. That beacon is supposed to alert drivers that they are approaching a school cross-walk.

That broken beacon not only failed to protect our children crossing Muirkirk Raceway, it also failed to protect our crossing guard, Ms. Lou, who was struck by a car in the crosswalk and hospitalized last January - she has been able to return to work only after months of recovery and physical therapy. Laurel Gazette article

That beacon has required maintenance many times during each and every shool year since it was installed several years ago at the request of the Montpelier Hills Homeowners Association. Either it doesn't flash during the designated crossing-guard times or it doesn't flash at all. It was checked by a P.G. Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPW&T) crew at the end of last school year -- so it should have worked properly on this first day of school. It didn't.

The other safety beacon just east of the school has never had any problems since it was installed at the same time -- something is wrong with the west-end beacon. Either it is defective and should be replaced or its solar panels are not powering the batteries properly. The solar panels are blocked by adjacent trees and not oriented toward open sky due south for maximum exposure to the sun.

After our crossing guard was struck, the totally ineffective response agreed to between DPW&T's and the County School system was to add a few no parking and no U-turn signs in front of the school.

It is time to bring highway and cross-walk safety at Montpelier Elementary up to exactly the same safety standards as at nearby Deerfield Elementary school - before a child is killed -- not after.
  1. We need two new speed limit signs closer to both ends of the school zone with FINES DOUBLED (just like Deerfield ES).
  2. The speed limit near all P.G. County Schools should be 25 miles/hour (as it is in Montgomery County) (just like Deerfield ES is trying to do with their informal 25 mile signs)
  3. We need a cross-guard controlled red light to bring traffic to a definite stop when children are crossing Muirkirk with a crossing-guard (just like Deerfield ES).
Do Montpelier Elementary students deserve to get less than the safety measures provided at Deerfield Elementary School? No!

As a Montpelier Hills resident, I will again raise these chronic safety problems with the school and the county -- residents and parents who wish to add their voices please add your comments to this posting and also contact me directly at

Gary Stone
Montpelier Hills