September 22, 2014

Elyria
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Sheriff’s Department manpower woes affect Grafton Safety Town program

GRAFTON — Members of a Midview PTA scrambled to save Safety Town after the Sheriff’s Department pulled out with only three weeks warning.
“By the time we found out, parents had already signed up and paid for their kids to come,” said Cathy Tennis, president of the Midview Early Education Parent-Teacher Association.
“We didn’t want to cancel, so we just decided to organize the event ourselves.”
The program teaches youngsters about how to stay safe on the streets and the sidewalks and other safety lessons.
Sheriff’s Capt. Richard Resendez said the department simply doesn’t have the manpower to handle Safety Town as it has for several years. But he said the department would be glad to let schools use the equipment and offer organizational help, he said.
 “We don’t look at it in dollars and cents,” Resendez said. “We have to put our officers where they are needed, and we needed to put that officer on road patrol.”
Deputy Karl Yost, who usually runs Safety Town, recently was reassigned to road patrol duties, Resendez said.
In the past, the sheriff’s department ran the Safety Town programs for five schools in Lorain County. As a result of the pullout, only one — Keystone — was forced to cancel, and its students joined the program at Midview.
The department still provided equipment and arranged for speakers to visit during the weeklong event to talk to the children about the danger of talking to strangers and how to dial 911.
Tennis said despite the last-minute scramble, the event — going on this week — is turning out fine.
Normally, the group’s involvement ends with collecting $5 from each participant, since it uses the program as a fundraiser.
But on Thursday, group members mingled with the volunteers enlisted to help with the 80 children, who were seated on the gym floor, watching a magician blend magic tricks with a lesson about staying away from strangers.
Contact Ben Norris at 329-7119 or bnorris@chroniclet.com.