Senior Staff Writer
Marshall Elementary and Lewisburg Middle schools children walked down Tiger Boulevard on Wednesday in a police-escorted parade to start their day in conjunction with city, county and state programs.
"This is a great opportunity to use your feet instead of Momma's car and to get into shape as we try to build more sidewalks," Lewisburg Mayor Barbara Woods told nearly 300 people in the parking lot at Westvue Church of Christ.
The city is working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Safe Route to Schools program that's led to a state grant for improvements to sidewalks and crosswalks on Tiger Boulevard and Jason Maxwell/Old Columbia Road, as well as flashing lights, crosswalk warning signs and pavement makers.
TDOT's goal is to make pedestrian safety a priority. Walking to school also improves personal health and combat air pollution by reducing trips by cars.
One mother's remarks before the walk show the issue includes city planning, subdivision development design and differences between rural and urban life.
"The way Marshall County is," said Anita Hulshof, "it's not practical for children to walk to school. We live 10 miles out.
"It's good to get up and walk to school," Hulshof said.
She grew up in Illinois.
"We had sidewalks and the schools were in the residential areas," Hulshof said. "We were expected to walk to school."
She walked to school in grades 1-6 until her father moved the family to Tennessee. He went to work for Mead Containers. She then went to Connelly School, several blocks from the county courthouse. While the Hulshof household was in the city, it was still too far to walk or even ride a bike to school.
Hulshof was accompanied by her friend, Malcolm Wright, a life-long resident of Marshall County, who agreed with her points.
"The new school, Oak Grove, is out there," at the edge of town on Franklin Pike, Wright said, noting there's no housing development nearby, nor are there sidewalks.
Wright attended Forrest School. His childhood home is 14 miles from the school.
Students arriving at the church before the walk's 7:45 a.m. start time were entertained with recorded music provided by MES music teacher Mateo Coronado. With good vibrations from the music, children and friends did line dances to the tunes. MES' audio equipment also served as a public address system.
The mayor announced the start of the walk and, as she led the children down hill, Coronado played The Four Seasons' song "Walk Like a Man."
Why that one?
"I don't have 'Walk Like a Woman,'" Coronado said with a deadpan face.
Students in grades 3-8 were accompanied by city officials, school staff and community volunteers including some from the Marshall County High School Marching Band and the MCHS baseball team.
City Police Officer John Christmas drove the lead patrol car with his partner, Officer Vincent Cuevas, and other police kept the city street closed.