Buice column: Parking lot issues and high school hoops

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 7, 2019

While Clemmons prepares to address plans for road improvements on Lewisville-Clemmons Road from I-40 to U.S. 158 — with safety being a major consideration — there is a more immediate concern on the northern side of the busy road.

That’s where what one parent called “kids playing human frogger trying to cross the road every day” as they attempt to navigate a four-lane highway with a median in between to reach their destination just down the road — West Forsyth High School.

A couple of Clemmons Village Council members called it “a tragedy waiting to happen” when they learned of the situation in a February meeting.

It seems the problem was created when Friends Baptist Church, which no doubt thought it was helping out by allowing students to park at their location, has inadvertently created a dangerous safety hazard with them having to cross all those lanes of traffic with vehicles whizzing by at speeds of 45 mph or higher.

Pat Ivey, Division 9 engineer for NCDOT, called the current situation “incredibly unsafe.”

Certainly, parking on school property is at a premium for such a large school as West, and sophomores are not allowed to park on campus — creating a need for students to look elsewhere for parking.

Village Manager Scott Buffkin has worked on setting up a meeting with the school, churches, Sheriff’s Department and the director of security with the Winston-Salem Forsyth County schools “to brainstorm anything and everything with the main goal to make it safer for all involved.”

River Oaks Community Church is located on the same side of the street as West and does have a sidewalk along that pedestrian route unlike Friends Baptist, which is on the opposite side of the highway and does not have a sidewalk.

River Oaks allowed students to park there, free of charge, for the past nine years but discontinued it this year because of a number of incidents and safety concerns in its lot, and knowing it was the preference of the school for students to park on school property.

Anthony Wild, one of the pastors at River Oaks who also spoke during the public comments part of the last council meeting, said that during the 2017-18 school year that church officials observed fights, drug use, vehicular accidents, a hit-and run, and many students who “hung out” in their vehicles throughout the course of the school day — many causing no harm — but others engaged in acts of physical intimacy not allowed on school grounds.

He added that on one occasion that the executive pastor was threatened while attempting to break up a physical altercation.

At the same time, Wild said that his church wanted to take its name of “community” seriously and would be willing for the school to “annex” its lot on weekdays for student parking if the school could monitor it.

The council has agreed to address the situation, hopefully in the Monday night’s meeting, with some action items to be considered for an immediate solution while working on longer-term solutions.

• • • • •

I’ve been trying to make it out to see some high school basketball all winter and finally succeeded on the night of the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference tournament finals at Davie County High School a couple of weeks ago.

I noticed Davie had been enjoying one of those special seasons, winning the regular season title — its first since 1970 — with a perfect 10-0 record in the rugged CPC and taking a 23-1 overall record into the championship game against Reynolds.

Plus, I was looking forward to getting a closer look at the relatively new high school off Farmington Road.

Maybe I was bad luck for the home team, as Reynolds jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 59-43 victory.

But for me, the story of the night came in the first game when the West Forsyth girls, who were the regular season champions, edged Glenn 45-44 in overtime to win the tournament title game.

We didn’t get there until halftime but quickly noticed West’s spunky little point guard, No. 10, who might be small, but nobody played bigger on this night. She did it all, driving to the basket for baskets, hitting threes, directing the offense and stealing the ball on the other end of the court. She was everywhere.

I used to cover high school hoops earlier in my newspaper career, but I don’t know if I ever saw a better performance than what I witnessed from Callie Scheier, who scored 34 of the team’s 45 points to will her team to a dramatic victory.

She was worth the price of the admission.