BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Rising fifth-graders Emily Jozwick and Cloey Warner knew they had to do something when they learned a schoolmate had lost a grandfather in a recent traffic collision at a dangerous intersection.
The two Union Elementary School students presented a letter and a signed petition to the Upshur County Commission during a 9 a.m. meeting Thursday. The letter asks for a traffic light to be installed at the intersection.
The Commission fully supported the girls’ effort and voted to send their letter, petition and a letter of support from the commissioners to the West Virginia Division of Highways, the agency with authority over the intersection.
Jozwick read aloud the letter she and Warner composed.
“We are deeply concerned about the number of accidents that have occurred at the Kesling Mill intersection and the tragic deaths that have occurred from those accidents,” she said. “Just recently a classmate of ours lost his grandfather and his grandmother is in the hospital with severe injuries.”
Jozwick was referring to the recent death of Russell Dueley, 66, of Ellamore and the injury of his wife, Diana Deuley, 68, at the intersection. Diana Deuley remains in in-patient care, family members said. She suffered memory loss as a result of the crash, and only recently learned that her husband was killed.
In their letter, Jozwick and Warner said a traffic signal at the intersection could help save lives.
“Too many lives have been lost,” they wrote in the letter.
Commission President J.C. Raffety is a grandparent; he was visibly moved by the presentation.
“It touches your heart; grandparents are special people,” he said.
Raffety made it clear to Jozwick and Warner their concerns were valid and their voices would be heard.
“You always have the right to make your concerns known. You have a voice in the County Commission. You’re very important,” he said.
Commissioner Buddy Brady echoed Raffety’s comments.
“It doesn’t matter your age, we appreciate your concerns,” he said.
Commissioner Terry Cutright thanked the girls for the presentation.
“It was very well done,” he said.
Raffety said he appreciated the girls’ grasp of civics and their involvement.
“I think in my experience as a commissioner, this is the first time someone so young has come with such a request. It speaks well of their character,” he said.
Florence Tenney was the girls’ fourth-grade teacher at Union Elementary School. She supported their efforts in drafting the letter and the petition, and gathering the signatures of their classmates.
“I’m very proud of these girls. I admire them for what they’re trying to do,” she said.
Crystal Blankenship is Jozwick’s mother. Both girls are bright and have great futures ahead of them.
“We’re very proud of them. Either one of these girls could be president,” she said.