Funding approved for traffic light near schools

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Village of Clemmons received some positive news from council member Mike Combest in Monday night’s meeting regarding receiving funds for a couple of items “that will significantly impact Clemmons and many non-Clemmons residents and businesses.”
Combest, who is the town’s transportation advisory representative, said that Clemmons will receive grant money to install a long-needed traffic light at the intersection of Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Holder Road – near West Forsyth High and Southwest Elementary – and to purchase fuel-efficient and pollution-reducing vehicles and equipment for Public Works.
The funding — $201,000 for the stoplight installation and $172,800 for the Public Works electric vehicle and equipment purchase – were approved in the February meeting of the TAC, which serves as a forum for cooperative transportation planning and decision-making for the Winston-Salem Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Combest said that putting in the new traffic light on the busy stretch of Lewisville-Clemmons Road near the two schools will help improve safety and access in an area that has frustrated residents for years.
“Equally important,” Combest said, “installing this light is a key action in the determined action to address dangerous vehicle crowding and stacking at schools during student drop-off and pickup from the student safety aspect.
Combest added that the traffic light accomplishes a couple of primary goals.
“Most important, it puts in place a mechanism that will help control and regulate traffic around two of our community schools – West Forsyth High and Southwest Elementary,” he said. “And investing in this traffic control measure demonstrates that we, the Village of Clemmons, are committed to applying the action and resources needed to solve the significant and growing drop-off and pick-up hazards at our schools.
“It demonstrates this to not only Clemmons residents and businesses but to the school stakeholders and all the school partners who will take their cue from how we act more than from what we say, including those in Lewisville, Winston-Salem, unincorporated Forsyth County – in and out of government.”
Combest said it was appropriate to note the “first-class staff work” in receiving the funding for the traffic signal and the “quick eye and initiative” of Mayor Mike Rogers in securing the funds for the Public Works vehicle and equipment.
In another item that was added to the agenda on Monday night, Village Manager Mike Gunnell said he wanted to share receiving notification that Clemmons had received a new fire rating of Class 2, effective June, 1, 2023, from the state.
“We just received our new rating for our fire department here in Clemmons,” Gunnell said. “Our rural rating for Clemmons was a 2, just one step below a 1. I think this a work of our current chief (Gary Styers) as well as our past chief, Chief (Jerry) Brooks. He was there for a long time. He built the fire department. I know Mr. (Larry) Kirby had a lot to do with that as well.”
Brooks, who retired at the end of 2022 after serving 51 years in the local fire department, including the last 43 as chief, said that improving the fire rating over the years was one of the top accomplishments during his tenure.
“The biggest thing we did and is still important is the (fire) rating,” said Brooks, who pointed out that for many years the best all rural departments could get was a Class 9-AA rating. “Then they got involved in rural water through the ISO insurance office.”
Brooks said that Clemmons going from that level “to a 6 was almost unheard of. A 6 is the best you can do for homeowners as far as insurance. Then we got to a 5, which helped the business community and then we went to Class 3 a few years ago, which is just about unheard of for rural departments and impacts the business community.”
In one of his last acts on the job, the Clemmons fire department went through an inspection in December. Brooks said at the time he was hopeful of climbing another notch to Class 2, but that wouldn’t be known until after his departure.
And now it’s official.
“Chief Brooks was instrumental in helping to get this fire rating,” Mayor Rogers said, “and I’m sure Chief Styers will carry on and strive to get to No. 1.”