Sharon Vokey retires after
serving as crossing guard
for almost 30 years

By Liz Dadson

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Sharon Vokey (C) receives flowers from students Kali Dunlop (L), Trent Courtney, Robert McGregor, Daniel Rouleau and Ronnie Rouleau, Thursday afternoon, her last day at the crosswalk on Russell Street, Kincardine, between Huron Heights Public School and St. Anthony's School

A crowd of students gathers to say goodbye to Sharon Vokey (with flowers) on her last day as the crossing guard on Russell Street, Kincardine

Fellow municipal employees congratulate Sharon Vokey on her retirement, Thursday afternoon; back, Lisa Ambeau (L), Karen Kieffer, Don Huston, Jean Roppel and Julia Pagnan; front, Peter Stopford (L), Corinne Cleary, Linda Dyer, Vokey, Carol Cook, Sandy MacKenzie, Stephanie Rutledge and Sandra Benbow; minding the crosswalk (in behind) is Chris Hartwick

Sharon Vokey (second to left) holds her "Stop" sign one last time, Thursday, joined by her colleagues Sandra Benbow (L), Stephanie Rutledge and Julia Pagnan

After almost 30 years on the job, Kincardine crossing guard Sharon Vokey is passing the "Stop" sign to someone else.

Vokey was hired by the former Town of Kincardine during Christmas break, 1984, and has been faithfully stopping traffic for her precious students ever since, at the crosswalk on Russell Street, Kincardine, between Huron Heights Public School and St. Anthony's School.

She took over from Chris Oltman who had been the crossing guard there for six years.

"At the time, I thought I'd likely be doing this for a couple of years, but not six," says Vokey, with a laugh.

While it's tough being out in all kinds of weather - rain, snow and sleet - she says you learn to dress appropriately.

The best part about the job is the children, she says, and that's what she will miss the most as her final day was Thursday.

Due to her husband's ill health, which requires many trips to hospitals in the city for treatment, she decided to retire.

"I feel sad to retire," she says. "I'm not ready for it. I've built some great relationships with the kids and their families, and with people out walking their dogs.

"I've got a second generation of students coming to the crosswalk. It's been a wonderful job."

She says over the years, she has noticed more traffic along Russell Street, and more buses. And students carry cell phones and are always texting.

But the children continue to be respectful and considerate - even more so in the past few years since anti-bullying programs were implemented at the local schools, she says.

Besides taking her husband for treatments in the city, Vokey will be walking around town and spending time with her three grandchildren. She also plans to read and to sort family pictures - something she never had time to do while she was working.

Municipal employees joined Vokey at the crosswalk to celebrate her retirement and present her with flowers. Students also presented her with flowers and gifts, and South Bruce OPP constable Kevin Martin, community services officer, presented her with a teddy bear and a certificate of appreciation from the OPP.

Stephanie Rutledge has taken over the crossing guard position on Russell Street.

South Bruce OPP constable Kevin Martin (R) presents a teddy bear and certificate of appreciation to Sharon Vokey

Makayla Roberts (L) and her mother, Alicia, give crossing guard Sharon Vokey a hug and a gift, and wish her well on her retirement, Thursday afternoon; both Alicia and Makayla were students during Vokey's tenure at the crosswalk on Russell Street, Kincardine

Angel Vahey (L), 9, of Kincardine presents flowers to crossing guard Sharon Vokey, on behalf of the students and the Municipality of Kincardine

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Sunday, November 24, 2013