Solar crosswalk sign installed by St. Mary’s School

Deb Moldaschel
Dallas Bauer (left) and Kyle Tauer, 2019 graduates of St. Mary's High School, posed by the solar-powered pedestrian crossing sign by the school.  The sign is the result of their spring 2019 Environmental Science class project. Dallas and Kyle graduated before experiencing the benefit of their project, but were happy to see it installed at last.

A safety project that was approved in April 2019, has finally been accomplished — a flashing crosswalk sign on St. Mary’s Street where students cross from the parking lot to the sidewalk near the corner of the football field.

The crosswalk sign was a proposal prepared for the City Council’s April 9, 2019 meeting by then seniors, Dallas Bauer and Kyle Tauer, students in a project-based Environmental Science class at St. Mary’s High School. The council approved the project that night and in May also approved partial funding.

The Environmental Science class teacher, Mary Beth Botz, said the idea for the flashing crosswalk sign was inspired by a field trip to the solar array at the REA building, when Manager Mike Heidemann suggested lighted signs as a practical application of solar energy.

The goal of Dallas and Kyle’s project was to install a solar-powered pedestrian crossing sign in front of St. Mary’s School (like those on Main Street and on Highway 4 to the lake trail), allowing students to cross more safely from the school side of the street to the parking lot on the other side. They found that both students and drivers alike commented that this particular crossing posed concerns, not only before and after school, but any time school activities had people crossing the busy street.

Botz said the project cost was $8,566. Dallas and Kyle were able to solicit $3,800 in donations. The city council agreed to cover the difference.

Kyle and Dallas graduated before the project really got underway. Now, just over a year later, the sign is flashing for student safety.

The crossing sign is on city property, installed by the city’s utility crew last month. The city will also take responsibility for ongoing maintenance of the sign.