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February 5, 2004 1:30 pm

Gary Davidson
Public Information Officer

VOLUSIA SCHOOL CROSSING GUARD NAMED TOPS IN THE STATE 

They work each and every school day, often in inclement weather and potentially hazardous situations, assisting young children across busy intersections to ensure that their travel to and from school is safe. And in the last year, no one in the state did it better than Volusia County school crossing guard Elsie Smith. Working her post at Seville Elementary School for more than 32 years, Smith was honored Thursday for her selection as Florida’s top crossing guard of 2003. “The citizens of Volusia County are very lucky to have such a dedicated group of men and women,” said Sheriff Ben Johnson, whose agency oversees Volusia’s school crossing guard program. “We’re very proud that we have the number one crossing guard in the state.” 

The most tenured of the Sheriff’s Office’s active school crossing guards, Smith was caught off guard by Thursday’s surprise announcement. It came in front of the County Council, which had just proclaimed Friday, February 6 as crossing guard appreciation day. By order of Governor Jeb Bush, this is an annual event that is observed across the entire state. Smith was among approximately 20 school crossing guards who had gathered in the County Council chambers in DeLand. At Thursday’s meeting, Earl Boney with the school  crossing guard program for the Florida Department of Transportation, made Thursday’s occasion that much more special. “Out of all the counties in the state, Volusia County is the home of the school crossing guard of the year,” Boney announced to the group. 

Smith, who first became a crossing guard in August 1971, was stunned when she was called to the podium to accept the award. “I’m just a nervous wreck. I had no clue,” Smith said. “All I can say is thank you. I love my job and I love my kids.” 

The Sheriff’s Office employs approximately 160 crossing guards and seven supervisors. The guards not only cross elementary school students at busy intersections, but also help to heighten safety awareness for the motoring public and teach children good pedestrian safety habits as well. A county committee evaluates requests for new crossing guards and makes recommendations to the County Council. Council members had high praise for Smith and the entire crossing guard program in Volusia County. “The purpose that you all serve is certainly a worthy one, and you all are to be commended,” said Council member Joie Alexander. “But we are delighted that one of our own is the best in the state.” Added Council Chair Dwight Lewis: “How do you thank those who protect our children? …We’re all proud of you. You make Volusia County proud.”

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352

Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151

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