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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Wendy Lausted says you could have knocked her over with a feather.
Lausted has been named in the top three of Chippewa Valley Magazine surveys about “favorites” in the category of “favorite crossing guard.”
Wendy has been a crossing guard in the Colfax school district for 22 years.
The “family favorites reader poll” is published in the Chippewa Valley Family magazine, a Volume One publication available for free, in the September and October of 2019 issue.
“I had no clue,” Wendy said.
According to the Chippewa Valley Family Magazine website, www.chippewavalleyfamily.org, “The wait is over. Last summer, we asked you — the fine readers of Chippewa Valley Family — to pick your favorite family stuff from throughout the area. We provided a whole range of questions concerning family life here in the Chippewa Valley. You were able to add your own responses on which everyone else was able to vote.”
Wendy found out she was among the top three favorite crossing guards in the Chippewa Valley when she was at school one day.
“I went up to school, and it was the day of the girls’ volleyball game, and Patti (Grant) says, ‘I’ve got a check for you.’ And I said, ‘Check?’ And she said, ‘For those two days,’” Wendy recalled.
Students could attend school two days during the week before school officially started on September 3 for team-building exercises and other activities.
“I’m sitting in the cafeteria, and David and I are talking to Terri (Ruff), his cousin, and she said, ‘Congratulations on the crossing guard.’ And I said, ‘What is she talking about?’ So I’m still sitting there, and Dave is talking to Terri, and Patti says, ‘Come on, I’ve got your check.’ So I followed her into the office, and Jan (Fehr) said, ‘Did you show her the other thing?’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she said, ‘This. It’s in the Chippewa Valley magazine,’” Wendy said.
“I was really surprised. I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
In the magazine, under the heading of “Family Favorite Crossing Guard” is listed 1. Rosie (Sam Davey); 2. Bob Teitz (Flynn); and 3. Wendy (Colfax).
“I showed it to Lisa (Hurlburt) at the library, and she takes a picture of it and posts it on Facebook, and then I get all these congratulations there,” Wendy said.
A number of other people at the school district also congratulated Wendy in person, including John Dachel (Colfax High School principal); Kirk Secraw (third grade teacher); William C. Yingst Jr. (school district administrator).
“But that’s how I found out when Jan Fehr showed it to me … I have no idea who did that. It really surprised me. Made my day,” Wendy said.
Wendy says she appreciates knowing there are people who care about her and the job she does.
“I keep the kids safe, and I keep myself safe. I’m up there when it’s raining, snowing, cold, hot … Those kids mean a lot to me. My job means a lot to me. I just love it,” she said.
Wendy says the one thing she does not love about her job, however, is all of the drivers who either do not know the traffic laws or are in too much of a hurry to get where they are going to stop for the crossing guard and the children in the crosswalk. The cones Wendy sets out in the crosswalk have been hit numerous times, and there have been other close calls, too.
So far, she has been able to keep the school children safe and herself as well.
Wendy is certain she has guardian angels watching over her and the youngsters.
On more than one occasion, she has had to turn people in to the police department because they have not stopped for her, as the crossing guard, and the children in the crosswalk.
People have been upset about it, too.
“I’m not doing it to ruin their day. I’m doing it because it’s my job, because they are not obeying the rules,” Wendy said.
“If they have a problem with it, they’ll have to go talk to the police chief,” she said.
Wendy also sees many drivers, morning and afternoon, who are not slowing down in the school zone.
The speed limit is 15 miles per hour when children are present.
“I love seeing those cute little kids every day. They bring me gifts. They give me treats when it is their birthday,” she said.
One little boy in particular had a cupcake left from his birthday treats that he intended to give Wendy. Unfortunately, the young man was so hungry when he got out of school that he ate half the cupcake before reaching the crosswalk.
He was still willing to give Wendy the other half, though.
“’That’s okay,’ I told him. ‘You can eat the other half, too,’” Wendy recalled with a laugh.
When it’s very cold during the winter, people often will bring hot chocolate for Wendy when she is out on her crossing guard duties.
“I appreciate that so much,” she said.
During Adult Crossing Guard week in January, the students at Colfax Elementary make thank-you cards for Wendy.
“The cards made by these little kids’ hands. And every time I read them, I start to cry. They are so sweet. ‘We love you, Wendy.’ ‘Don’t quit your job. We need you.’ When I read all that I start to cry,” she said.
“I have the best of the best. The best job. The best bosses. The best little kids,” Wendy said.
No matter who started the vote count for Wendy Lausted as a favorite crossing guard in the Chippewa Valley — it’s easy to see why people would think of her as their favorite.