Friday, October 12, 2012

‘Welcome to Bellevue’ sign now legal

New Main Street pedestrian lighting switched on

Express Staff Writer

The city of Bellevue’s sign welcoming people to town now sits in a new location on the west side of state Highway 75, after it was discovered that the former location on the east, northbound side of the highway was not owned by the city.

A first sign of arrival in the Wood River Valley as one slows to posted speed limits on state Highway 75 and rolls down the windows for some fresh mountain air is the “Welcome to Bellevue” sign at the south end of the city. The origins of the original sign placement on the right, northbound side of the road for some 15 years remains a mystery, as no application for it is on record with the city. As it turned out, that location was not owned by the city.

However, the sign is now in a legal location on city property on the left side on the way into town, thanks to the initiative of a group of elementary school students.

Last fall, Bill Cantrell’s fifth-grade class took on as a class project to try to remove portable toilets from next to the original welcome sign next to Sweet’s waste-disposal business. In the process of making aesthetic improvements at the town entrance, the class learned that it was the sign—not the toilets—that were out of place.

“We opened up a can of worms,” Cantrell said. “The city sign is now on [city] property on the left-hand side, coming into Bellevue from the south.”

Cantrell said that although the fifth-graders have moved on to middle school, the lessons of the project continue. To complete a process that has taken longer than a school year, the new middle school pupils will join new fifth-graders in the spring to add some landscaping to the new sign location, which includes a view of trees rather than portable toilets.

Cantrell said the school hopes to incorporate the landscape designs and installation work into science lessons and the Blaine County School District’s Leader in Me curriculum.  

“They will go back to City Council with designs,” he said. “It ties in perfectly with the Leader in Me. It’s a cool process. Kids get to do some public speaking and some writing.”

The Leader in Me curriculum aims to teach students personal leadership skills.

In other Bellevue news:

The city on Monday night switched on new pedestrian crosswalk lighting downtown. The system has been installed for pedestrians crossing Main Street at Cottonwood and Spruce streets. Pedestrians will be able to count on flashing lights on vertical signs at the intersections to help warn drivers of pedestrians in the road, said Bellevue Planning Administrator Craig Eckles. The $22,000 system was paid for through a Safe Routes to School federal grant of $17,000 in addition to funds from the Bellevue Urban Renewal Agency.

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