Council splits on flip stop signs
by Rick DeClue · News · January 12, 2013

The West Branch City Council took another U-turn in its consideration of the stop signs at the intersection of Main and Oliphant Streets Monday night.

The second reading of a resolution to remove the flippable signs currently used before and after school hours failed on a deadlocked vote of 2 to 2.

Councilpersons Dan O’Neil and Jordan Ellyson voted against the removal. Council member Colton Miller and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Oaks voted for taking the signs down. Mayor Don Kessler and council member Mark Worrell were absent.

This issue began with Worrell looking to curb speeding west of town, then turned to making the stop signs at Oliphant permanent. The city council requires three readings on ordinances, and that vote went up and down until it finally failed. The issue re-emerged when council member Colton Miller moved to take the signs down. Council member Jordan voted for removal of the flippable signs at the first reading on Dec. 17.

With this “no” vote, there are no changes pending for the crossing.

Ellyson, who hesitated several seconds before voting, said afterwards that she agrees with Miller’s view that there needs to be consistency at the intersection.

This is important for citizens of West Branch as well as drivers not from West Branch, she said. For her, though, the all-or-nothing approach points to the permanent stop signs that failed earlier. She is aware that other council members have had citizens approach them in support of the permanent signs.

She thinks they may be brought up again in the future, and noted that City Administrator Matt Muckler had been asked to coordinate further discussions between the council and the school board to reach an agreement satisfactory to both.

Ellyson also feels strongly that the crossing needs to be marked as a school zone. She said that until her own children started school, she did not even know where the elementary school was located. She has asked West Branch Police Chief Mike Horihan and Dave Schechinger, the city’s engineer, to look into the requirements for marking the area as a school zone.

While parents reportedly have made calls for their support for permanent signs to the school district, and Superintendent Kevin Hatfield and Board President Mike Owen have previously stated their opposition to removing the signs entirely, no one spoke to the issue during the council’s open forum at Monday’s meeting.

The city is continuing its pursuit of Safe Routes to School funds for use this year. O’Neil said that he has completed his work on the grant application and submitted it to Muckler and Schechinger. After a review, it will be put in front of council prior to the state’s deadline for applications of either February 15 or March 1. The state has not yet decided.

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