Vincent homecoming bringing message of rail safety

Published 3:11 pm Friday, September 21, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

VINCENT – As the director of Operation Lifesaver of Alabama, Nancy Hudson has attended plenty of ceremonial proclamation signings commemorating railroad safety week in cities across the state, but a Sept. 21 signing at Vincent Middle High School was unique for multiple reasons.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had this many people here for a proclamation signing,” Hudson said to the about 50 people gathered in the school’s auditorium. “We have never had an event like this that brought three cities together for one goal, and that goal is saving lives.”

VMHS served as the host for the first three-mayor proclamation signing in Alabama railroad safety history, as Westover Mayor Larry Riggins, Harpersville Mayor Don Greene and Vincent Mayor Ray McAllister signed the proclamations simultaneously during the ceremony.

“This is very historic. I don’t think we’ve ever had a time where we’ve had three mayors come together on something like this,” said CSX Director of Community Affairs and Safety Sheriee Bowman. “This day and next week are very important. Railroad safety is something we feel very strongly about. Hopefully our message of safety will be spread not only in Vincent and Shelby County, but throughout other areas as well.”

The three cities represent the attendance zone for VMHS, and came together a week before the school’s homecoming football game. During the Yellow Jackets’ Sept. 28 home game against Winterboro, the school’s Jacket Leadership Squad and middle school Railroad Ambassadors will distribute literature and goodies aimed at promoting rail safety.

Rail safety is particularly important in Alabama, Hudson said, as the statistics are grim. Currently, Alabama is eighth in the nation for the number of vehicle vs. train fatalities, is ninth in the nation for the number of vehicle vs. train crashes and is 14th in the nation for the number of pedestrians killed on rail road tracks.

“All we do is promote safety along railroad tracks and at railroad crossings. Here in Alabama, it’s something we take very seriously,” Hudson said.

Mason Reeves, a seventh-grader at VMHS, said he has enjoyed being on the school’s Railroad Ambassadors team.

“It’s important, because we go around and tell everyone to stay off the tracks,” Reeves said, noting the group has been active in the school for about a month.

McAllister said he is looking forward to adding the rail safety component to an already exciting homecoming week in the city.

“(MHS Principal) Dr. (Michele) Edwards and her staff have done an outstanding job, along with Operation Lifesaver,” McAllister said. “It’s going to be very exciting to do all this during the homecoming game, and we’re looking forward to that.”