WBA hears about railroad safety, Vincent school

WESTOVER – The Westover Business Alliance heard from the leaders of Operation Lifesaver Alabama and Vincent Middle High School at its meeting on Thursday, July 26.

Nancy Hudson, executive director of Operation Lifesaver Alabama, talked about the national non-profit organization that promotes safety at railroad crossings and on railroad property.

Alabama ranks eighth nationally in number of fatalities related to collisions with trains, Hudson said, with its 130 miles of tracks and more than 6,000 public crossings.

The incidents are often called by distracted driving, she said, and that is not limited to texting.

“You’re thinking about everything under the sun, and that’s a distraction,” Hudson said. “We’re distracted about many things.”

Locomotives weigh about 440,000 pounds, and freight trains are longer and heavier than ever, Hudson said. Traveling at 45 miles, it takes a train about 2 miles to stop.

Operation Lifesaver Alabama’s newest campaign is titled “See Tracks? Think Train.”

Hudson urged motorists to be mindful of railroad crossings even if they do not usually see trains at a particular location.

“If there are tracks, there can be a train,” she said.

The organization hopes to take its message into as many schools and businesses as possible.

“Please invite us,” Hudson said and added that presentations are free to participants. “We want you to keep us busy.”

Then, the WBA heard from Michele Edwards, principal of Vincent Middle High School.

Edwards is originally from Decatur and attended Troy University, where she played basketball.

“I am extremely happy to be part of these students’ lives because they bless us every day,” Edwards said.

Some Westover residents attend Vincent, which averages about 60 students per graduating class, Edwards said.

The principal praised the school’s family-oriented atmosphere and said students are appreciative of the opportunities they have and the work of their teachers and administrators.

Some students have even gone to the school over the summer to voluntarily help with needed work, Edwards said.

The school’s motto is “Be gritty,” Edwards said.

“We need to teach that,” she said.

Edwards also said she has a vision for improving the school facility that will require support from local residents and businesses.

“I’m very excited to see what we can do as a community,” she said.

After hearing from Shane Armstrong from the new Premier Assisted Living Facility in Columbiana, Susan Lane with the WBA announced dates for upcoming events: Coffee with Westover Mayor Larry Riggins at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 20 at the White House in Westover, and the next WBA luncheon at noon on Oct. 25 at ServPro.