St. Francis community braves elements to rally for change to dangerous intersection

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Dozens of families in St. Francis braved the freezing cold winds Saturday in the hope of change.

They were there rallying at the very intersection where two students were hit just a week and a half ago.

Parents and students say this intersection has been a problem for far too long. The warning lights at the cross walk are simply not enough; they say they want more.

“It’s a smaller community,” said Deanna Cable, a mother of St. Francis students who grew emotional. “It’s been a really hard week and a half.”

“This is such a long time coming,” Chris LaMotte, the father of one of the injured girls added. “People are honking here because they care.”

They want to see a safer intersection, as they say the dangers of Highway 47 have plagued the area for far too long.

“It was always, ‘Text your mom before you go over the highway,’ and ‘Text your mom after you go over the highway,’” Brooke Waalen, an eighth grader said.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 p.m. at night. It doesn’t matter if it’s 9 a.m. in the morning. It’s not safe, it’s not okay. We need a walking bridge. We need a crosswalk,” said Cable.

According to Mayor Steve Feldman, 141 children and pedestrians cross the intersection daily, which is why the city has applied for a grant from the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

“I don’t like when it comes down to dollars and cents because you can’t put a price tag on life,” Feldman said. “One accident is one accident too many.”

For eighth grader Gabby Rignell, the flashing light crosswalk is totally insufficient.

“I think that the flashing light really was just a Band-Aid for a bullet wound,” she said. “It didn’t really fix the problem. It didn’t really resolve anything.”

On Nov. 20, eighth graders Annie LaMotte and Kaia Bollman were hit crossing that very intersection.

“We pressed the button and everything was good until we got to that third lane and I looked up and saw the headlights and that car,” LaMotte said.

Today, she is back with her friends, rallying for change, while Kaia remains in critical condition but on everyone’s minds.

“We’re really here for Kaia and Annie and we hope that they get better,” some eighth grade classmates said. “We’re glad Annie’s back and hope Kaia can be soon. If this doesn’t bring attention to it, I don’t know what will.”

The mayor says that they should know in January or February if they will be getting that grant money. He says they hope to then make the changes that everyone is rallying for.