Three mayors proclaim Rail Safety Week at VMHS ceremony

VINCENT – The mayors of three Shelby County municipalities proclaimed Sept. 22-28 as Rail Safety Week during a ceremony on Monday, Sept. 23, at Vincent Middle High School.

Mayor Don Greene of Harpersville, Mayor Ray McAllister of Vincent and Mayor Larry Riggins of Westover joined state and local officials, and eight student railroad ambassadors for a special ceremony.

“We could not do the things we do at Vincent Middle High School without the support of these three mayors,” Principal Michele Edwards said about the mayors, each of whom represent residents who attend the school.

Nancy Hudson, executive director of Operation Lifesaver, said such ceremonies were being conducted across the United States and Canada.

“It’s more than what is happening here today, this is happening all across two countries,” Hudson said.

Hudson gave some statistics about train collisions: a person or vehicle is struck by a train every three hours in the United States, a motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another vehicle, and preliminary data shoes that within the 81 Alabama vehicle crashes involving trains in 2018, there were 39 injuries and 12 fatalities.

“We have to do something,” Hudson said.

“Operation Lifesaver, state agencies, railroad companies, and state and local law enforcement are joining together to heighten awareness about the importance of rail safety by urging all motorists to obey signals, gates and other safety devices at highway-rail grade crossings and all pedestrians and cyclists to stay away from the tracks,” the proclamation read.

In addition to the mayors, Shelby County Schools Superintendent Lewis Brooks and Shelby County Emergency Management Agency Supervisor Hub Harvey spoke at the ceremony.

The VMHS and Vincent Elementary School Railroad Ambassadors included: Lane Mims, Cayden Carroll, Jordynne Rose, Emma Brown, Payson Davis, Alvin Perez, Ava Waldrop and Kash Dobson.

The ambassadors will help plan and promote activities that increase rail safety awareness.