STARKE

Trailer, messages keeps drivers focused


Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 at 10:34 p.m.

Starke police remind drivers: Buckle up, Florida; click it or ticket; you drink, you drive, you lose; the choice is yours.

And most of all, they tell you: This is how fast you are going.

The Starke Police Department has purchased a speed trailer and a message board to help with traffic control with funds from a $30,000 Florida Department of Transportation grant.

The grant came from FDOT's Highway Safety Grant Program, which identifies problems and sets goals for traffic safety. The program is funded by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and funds are appropriated according to a formula based on population and road mileage within an area.

The trailer has a radar unit that calculates a driver's speed, then displays it on a large screen so drivers can see just how fast they're traveling. Cars traveling 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit get stars flashed at them, alerting them they are going too fast and to slow down.

"People sometimes forget how fast they're suppose to be going. The trailer gets they're attention," said Police Chief Gordon Smith. "It gets their mind back on driving."

The message board also allows officials to alert drivers of to hazardous road conditions, Amber Alerts and community events.

The device can be used to study traffic patterns. A traffic counter that will measure vehicle size and how fast it is traveling is incorporated into the machinery. That information can be used to help with future funding for the department.

"Those figures will help us apply for other grants in the future," said Margie Hall, administrative assistant for the police department, who composed the grant for a speed trailer and a message board. "The numbers help us show need when applying for some awards," Hall elaborated.

While grant writing is not in her job description, she says she enjoys the challenge.

"You have to know just what words to use in the process," she explained.

For this grant, Hall had to first submit a concept paper to move on to the next step of the process. Once the concept paper was accepted, the grant could be written.

"I didn't get the information for it until the day before it was due. I had to write it in one day," she remembers.

Altogether, she estimates that she put in about 400 hours of work into the document. She wrote five grants for the department in 2003, winning two of them.

"For grant writing, that's an extremely good average," Chief Smith said. Hall is currently preparing two grants for 2004.

James Redmond can be reached at (904) 364-6170 or jamesredmond1@yahoo.com

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