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In the zone
New school zone uses solar technology
new deh new school zone pic
Shown are the new solar-powered school zone lights on South McKinley, installed for Central Kansas Christian Academy. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Motorists be advised. The end of the winter recess brings the beginning of a new school zone.

Starting with the resumption of school in Great Bend on Tuesday, Jan. 4, flashing yellow lights will denote a 20 mile-per-hour zone in front of Central Kansas Christian Academy on South McKinley Street, said Mike Crawford of the Great Bend Street Department. Crews finished work on the news signs Tuesday and they were switched on for awhile Wednesday.

According to Crawford, the signals will be on, meaning the reduced speed will be enforced, from 7:40-8:30 a.m. and from 3-3:45 p.m. on school days. They will not be activated during lunch time. From here on out, they will be active on the same days as those near other schools.

"It’s a new look for that street," Crawford said. So, drivers may want to take care. During other times of day, the speed limit is 35.

There is something else new about the signals. The lights, which will use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), will be powered entirely by the sun.

"These are the first solar-powers school zone lights we’ve installed," Crawford said. "They turned out real neat."

In order to get electricity to the new signs, the power company would have had to install new poles. This is why solar made so much sense, he said, adding there are no power lines dangling over the street.

For the school administration, the added security for the students is very much welcome, said Jane Thier, principal. "We’re thrilled to have them now."

Thier said some parents park across the street to drop of their children, and there are kids who occasionally have to cross McKinley for other reasons. "We just really needed that. People are always rushing by there," Thier said of the speeding traffic.

According to the principal, the new speed zone has been wanted for a long time. "We’ve been trying to get it for several years. Pretty much since school was built we’ve been trying to get something out there."

One hundred students attend CKCA, and the current building, located at 215 McKinley, has been in use since 2001.