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Students Sign Support Promotes Traffic Safety


By Amy Ash Nixon, as seen in the Caledonian Record:

BURKE — Signs to help slow traffic in East Burke Village were painted by middle school students at the Burke Town School on Tuesday during the school’s annual spring Community Service Day.

The idea for some traffic calming steps and signage in the busy village frequented by visiting as well as local mountain bikers, came out of the One Burke process last year.

One Burke was the name given to the process of three Community Visits which were held in Burke through the Vermont Council on Rural Development.

Work on improving village safety for everyone, cyclists and pedestrians particularly, as well as the need for improvements to the Burke Town School campus facilities and work on infrastructure in both East and West Burke villages for economic development were the areas of focus that led to committees being created.

Of the art project at the Burke Town School this week, where three large wooden signs were painted by students after characters were outlined by visiting artist Megan Durocher, Des Hertz, chair of the One Burke process and a teacher at the school, said, “The One Burke Trails and Transportation Safety task force is working in collaboration with Burke Town School students and art teacher, Carol Mason, to create signs for East Burke Village.”

“The aim of the signs is to raise the awareness of drivers about pedestrian and bike traffic in East Burke,” Hertz said.

She said the wood for the signs was donated by Wheeler Building Materials in Lyndonville, and paint was purchased with a grant from Burklyn Arts.

Burke Town School art teacher Carol Mason said Burklyn Arts also supported the project to allow for a visiting artist, Megan Durocher, to spend time with the Burke eighth graders this week. Durocher makes sculpted clay characters and wedding cake toppers, and created outlines on the wooden signs for happy-looking groups of kids and people, brightly filled in by the students on Tuesday.

On the top of the signs, the word LOOK would be painted in English, with a little bicycle logo made from the word LOOK, Mason said, showing the drawings for the plan. The signs will also have the French translation, soyez attentif, said Mason.

Michelle LaRocque-Tipton, a member of the One Burke Traffic and Trails Task Force, said, “The purpose of the project is to raise awareness among pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicle operators to please move cautiously through the congested village of East Burke, particularly during the bike season.”

The three murals the students made on Tuesday will be portable, said LaRocque-Tipton.

Durocher, the visiting artist, was a student of Mason’s when she attended the East Haven River School before it closed, she said, while working with students. She is a school counselor and artist who sells her sculptures at craft fairs and also is working on writing and illustrating children’s books, she said.

“I’m happy Carol asked me back,” said Durocher of helping with the three murals this week.

Mason said the murals will be installed near Ruby Lee’s ice cream, the Cafe’ Lotti, and in one other place in the village along VT Route 114. She said the plans call for more murals to be made once trails are extended into West Burke Village in the future, another aspect of the One Burke process.

Zoe Heinrich-McMullen, 13, an 8th grader, said of the project, “I think it’s pretty cool. I know there are a lot of people and bikers in the village, it’s to help slow people down.”

Emma Newland, 14, said she thinks it’s cool the students’ murals will be a public art installation in East Burke Village, and the idea to help slow traffic is a good one, but she feels like people are already pretty mindful of the pedestrians and cyclists in the village. “I feel like everybody is pretty careful anyway,” she said, painting on one of the murals Tuesday.

“I feel like I’m doing graffiti,” said Emma as she painted the mural on the wooden board. “I think it’s pretty cool!”