Despite traffic concerns, first day goes off well

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The sun was shining, and most of the students were smiling for the first day of classes in the Punxsutawney Area School District Tuesday.

Superintendent Dr. Keith Wolfe said as far as the bus routes were concerned, there weren’t any problems at any of the levels.

Wolfe said he visited three elementary schools, the middle school and the high school for the first student day and found teachers and students alike happy to be back to work, and students happy to be back with their friends.

At the high school last year, a new traffic pattern was instituted for morning drop-off: After a driver drops off a student in the rear loop, he or she should exit at the middle school.

Tuesday, Wolfe said he received many unsolicited comments about the traffic pattern and how well it was working.

Also, this year is the second year without crossing guards at the in-town elementary schools.

“The parents have done a fantastic job at keeping the children safe at the in-town schools, West End and Jenks Hill,” Wolfe said. “One of my biggest concerns was the traffic at Jenks Hill and the multiple intersections. Once school started, it wasn’t an issue last year, or today, either.”

Regarding the Pine Street/North Findley Street sewer replacement project, anticipated traffic delays and tie-ups didn’t occur, he said.
“Chief (Tom) Fedigan told me that the street would be open to one lane, but when the workers see the buses coming, they are to let them through,” Wolfe said. “So as far as I know, it has been working. We agreed to try it for a couple of days and see how it goes, but it seems like a non-issue.”

Wolfe said if there were any problems with delays, Fedigan said he would assign an officer to the bottom of Sycamore Street and direct traffic there, so bus drivers can make left turns onto West Mahoning Street.

Travis Monroe, elementary principal, said as far as he knew, the first day for elementary students went without incident.

“The kids looked happy and thrilled to be here, and it was a beautiful day on top of that,” he said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the teachers; they’ve been coming in during the summer to get their classrooms ready and prepare their lessons.

“When the kids walked through the doors today (Tuesday) for the first day of school, their names were on the desk, and their packets were ready, and they were greeted with a smile by their teachers,” Monroe said.