Spencer aldermen support Walk to School Day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
SPENCER ó Members of the Spencer Board of Aldermen last week passed a proclamation in support of Walk to School Day.
While the proclamation is international ó and promotes walking as a means of improving health and reducing pollution ó Carol Corriher said it has the potential to do much more for Spencer.
Specifically, Corriher said, the more people who participate in Walk to School Day, the better chance Spencer has of securing federal grant money to help build sidewalks along streets in the neighborhoods surrounding North Rowan Elementary and Middle schools.
“We’ve got to show that the entire community is interested,” said Corriher, who has for three years been a member of Spencer’s Community Appearance Commission.
Corriher said the grant for building sidewalks is funded entirely by the federal government. She said it’s not known the amount for which Spencer might qualify but said it could go far toward getting sidewalks installed.
Corriher said Town Manager Larry Smith is working to get funds from the N.C. Department of Transportation for new sidewalks throughout much of town. Money from the Safe Route to Schools program would be used exclusively for sidewalks around the schools.
The purpose of the program “is to enable and encourage our children, including those with disabilities, to walk or bicycle to school, improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution,” Corriher wrote in an article published in the town of Spencer’s monthly newsletter.
She said participation in Walk to School Day is not limited to students or parents whose children are students. Everyone interested in getting more sidewalks in Spencer is encouraged to go for a walk the morning of Oct. 8.
“We’re trying to get the whole town walk-able,” Corriher said.
She said that’s far from the case as the situation now stands. Corriher noted that Oakwood Drive (the road that stretches beside North Rowan High and leads to North Rowan Elementary and Middle) is anything but walker-friendly, lacking in sidewalks.
The same is true, she said, of Charles Street, off which both the elementary and middle schools are located. There are no sidewalks there.
“I noticed from the get-go that the town doesn’t have sidewalks everywhere,” Corriher said. “This is the biggest push we can do.”
She said studies have shown that students who walk to school are more alert in the morning and typically perform better in their school work.
Corriher said if Smith, the town manager, and those involved with Walk to School Day secure all the grant money they hope to secure, the town’s sidewalks will soon improve greatly.
“The old joke between me and Larry is, by the time we get sidewalks everywhere we want, we’re going to be too tired to walk them,” Corriher said laughing.