by Lisa Tome
There are fewer children walking to school on Perryville's Aiken Avenue this year, but that hasn't cut back the duties of Perryville police officer Anthony Lenzi.
Lenzi spent the first two days of school and two days last week warning drivers that school is in session.
"You don't have as many elementary students, teachers, and parents. But we do have more foot traffic with elementary kids and we have more buses," said Lenzi. "Maywood (avenue) is dead now."
Those buses are taking the downtown Perryville children to school in Charlestown while the two-year renovation of Perryville Elementary is in progress.
On Thursday morning, August 28, Lenzi was stopping cars in a 30 mile per hour zone. Even if they were driving just a few miles per hour over the speed limit, he was issuing warnings.
"School's in. Slow down. I'm educating the public," said Lenzi. "We have more buses and more people waiting at Otsego (street) and Aiken (avenue) now. There's more parents and people waiting for buses to come.
Lenzi still has students at three schools along Aiken Avenue and in close proximity. Perryville Middle, Good Shepherd Catholic School, and High Road School, are all in session.
Each year at back to school time, Lenzi and other Perryville officers take back to school detail seriously. He was clocking speeds at above the limit. These back to school patrols have also netted an unlicensed driver, a driver whose license was suspended, and last year, a driver was charged with DWI in the early morning hours.
"Most people are friendly and cooperative. Some don't realize that school started so early. They are sincere and apologetic," said Lenzi.
The officer said that most of the traffic on Aiken Avenue in the morning is drivers headed to work at Perry Point VA Medical Center. "It's a shame more people don't use Coudon Boulevard. That’s basically a bypass out of town," said Lenzi.
Lenzi stopped a speeder, a Pennsylvania woman who just started working at Perry Point. She was speeding and was issued a warning and told "Watch your speed, especially in school zones."
"I saw buses so I knew school was in session. I didn't know I was speeding," she said.
Lenzi said he thinks it's important to watch out for the children. "Children are our future. We've got to make a safe environment for them," said Lenzi.
In addition to the extra patrols by police, Perryville has two crossing guards - one at Richmond Street and one at Otsego Street.