The Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Dec. 12, was so crowded it required a venue change to the county's law enforcement center.
Rick Frericks' fifth-grade class from William Kelley Schools made the trip to Two Harbors to talk to the board about a problem intersection at Penn Boulevard and Edison Boulevard in Silver Bay.
Earlier in the fall, Frericks was walking home from school when he noticed a number of drivers blowing through the stop sign on Penn, a four-way stop.
Concerned about the dangers of drivers habitually failing to stop at the intersection, Frericks asked his class if they had seen similar scenes at the intersection. More than 75 percent of the students raised their hands. Some students said they had seen motorists barely even tap their brakes at the intersection.
A few weeks ago, the class worked with Lake County highway engineer Krysten Foster to investigate why drivers were not stopping and find possible solutions. Breaking out into three groups, the students talked about the problems and brainstormed solutions.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, they brought the issue before the County Board. The students asked the county install a stop ahead sign on one side of the intersection and a double stop sign on the opposite side of the intersection — Foster's recommendation following the class exercise.
Commissioner Rick Goutermont, who represents Silver Bay, said he passes through the intersection five or six times a day. He asked the students if they had considered removing the stop sign on Penn Boulevard because Forest Highway 11 has no other stop signs on the remainder of its 35-mile route that terminates in St. Louis County.
The students said it was an option, but in their discussions with Foster, they believed the better option was to install the additional signs and in a year's time conduct a traffic study at the intersection and see if the problem has improved.
Commissioner Rick Hogenson — also the assistant chief of police in Two Harbors —- asked if the class had contacted Silver Bay Police Chief Doug Frericks.
Frericks assisted with the class exercise and explored the options with the students. He also said he and the rest of the Silver Bay Police Department had increased their vigilance at the intersection, but because of the departments other duties, an officer can't be there constantly.
In the end, the board unanimously approved Foster's recommendation to add more signs on both sides of the intersection and return to study the situation in one year.
Goutermont also encouraged the kids to continue to monitor the intersection to see if the new signs help. He said he would keep his eyes open when he is in the area as well.
""This is how democracy works. This board up here works for your guys," Goutermont said. "When you see issues in your community or have concerns, you bring it to us because your parents — and someday, you — will be the ones that elect us. We're working for you to make the community that you live in what you want it to be."