By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Wendy Lausted has been a crossing guard for the Colfax school district for 19 years.
No matter what the weather — sub-zero cold, windchills, snow, rain, sleet, fog or the heat of a warm fall day — Lausted is at her post, helping students to safely cross state Highway 40/University Street.
When the temperature is below zero, Lausted is so bundled in heavy clothing, she is hardly recognizable.
Lausted says she has never minded the cold or snow or rain because her job of keeping children safe as they the cross the street is all that matters.
“I just love it. Being a crossing guard makes my day,” Lausted said.
Students from Colfax Elementary, along with Trevor Hovde, Colfax Elementary and Middle School principal, honored Lausted January 19 with cards they had made as part of Adult School Crossing Guard Recognition Week.
The afternoon ended up cloudy and damp but with a temperature of about 40 degrees, and the students, accompanied by Hovde, walked to the intersection where Lausted works as a crossing guard to present her with the cards they had made.
The students included Kendall Wilson (second grade); Liam Walley (kindergarden); Seth Mayfield (first grade); Clara Hydukovich (third grade) and Gabriel Cuaquehua (fourth grade).
Lausted said she has been a crossing guard long enough that she first sees the children when they are youngsters in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten and then watches them grow up until they are seniors in high school.
“It’s fun to see them as they grow up,” she said.
Lausted takes the job so seriously because she has seen so many close calls first hand.
Like the driver who, instead of stopping behind the vehicle stopped by the crosswalk to allow Lausted to cross the street safely with the children, flew around the stopped driver — and nearly hit Lausted and the youngsters.
Or the driver who came so close that Lausted ended up with her hand on the hood of the vehicle as if to hold it there and keep it from running over the children.
Or the driver who was oblivious to the traffic cones Lausted set up and ended up with a traffic cone crushed under the bumper of the vehicle.
Or the drivers who have hit the traffic cones and then scattered them up and down the street, requiring Lausted to retrieve them and set them back where they belong.
Every time Lausted sees a driver who does not stop or who is doing something dangerous, like swerving around a stopped vehicle or running over her traffic cones, she takes note of the license plate number and then notifies local law enforcement.
Colfax Police Chief William Anderson also has sat out on patrol near the crosswalk, and that has helped to raise awareness, too, about what is required of drivers when crossing guards are doing their jobs, Lausted said.
Lausted noted that she very much appreciates the support of local enforcement officers in helping her to do the job and keep the children safe.
Each year, the state of Wisconsin declares a week in January as Adult School Crossing Guard Recognition Week and encourages the public to show appreciation for the crossing guards who help children cross busy intersections every day when school is in session.