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Should smoking be allowed on DHS campus?

by Merrie Leininger

Student and law enforcement members of the Community Action Team are recommending a smoking area be designated on the Douglas High School campus.

CAT members agreed Thursday to ask school board members to consider an on-campus smoking area as a solution to a dangerous student crosswalk on Highway 88 in front of the school.

Lt. Mike Biaggini and other members of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada Highway Patrol agreed the crosswalk is a danger zone.

“I’ve watched it from time to time. As of late, the group has been good. There are times when it is very apparent students are staggering themselves and blocking traffic for a very long time,” Biaggini said.

Many students use the crosswalk if they walk to school or to nearby restaurants at lunch time. However, students at the meeting said about 50 percent of those who use it cross the street to smoke. Smoking is not allowed on campus or at any school district facility.

Students and deputies at the meeting determined the best temporary option would be to designate a smoking area on campus.

“If there is some way we can work together to get them to think in that mode (of being considerate of drivers). Then getting a smoking area on campus would cut down on most of the crossing. Even if it is not popular with the non-smoking public, it’s better than someone getting hurt,” Biaggini said.

The group decided to invite school board members to discuss the issue at their next meeting at 2:30 p.m. March 23 at the DHS library.

Information from the Nevada Department of Transportation indicated there is not enough traffic to justify a crossing signal.

Sgt. Phil Shemick of the Highway Patrol recalled when a student was struck and injured before the crosswalk was installed.

“We had to fight to get the crosswalk. A kid got hurt and there was a public outcry,” he said. “I think the on-campus option is good. Then we can do education and enforcement for the remaining students.”

n Positive youth. DHS Principal Bev Jeans and Biaggini presented information regarding a community program the group decided to bring to the Carson Valley.

Jeans said the program begins with students taking a survey which asks them about the advantages and deficiencies of their community.

Respondents rate areas such as support, how the community values youth, how socially aware the students are, self-esteem and youth programs.

Building on the positive aspects the students mention, the community works together to make it a better place for everyone.

“In places where this program has been embraced by the community, the kids are more successful at school and in the community. It gives a sense of where there are holes and how we can begin to fill in those holes,” Jeans said.

n Cleanup. A committee was formed of volunteers who will be doing cleanup in the Pine Nut mountains. Juvenile offenders from the district court system or from DHS Peer Court might also be assigned to help do clean-up. Anyone who wants to volunteer can call Kirk Streeter at Douglas County Code Enforcement at 782-6214.

n Skate park. The Carson Valley Skaters will meet with the person who is designing the skate park March 1 and they expect to break ground in four months.

n Teen center. The Pro-teen group which is attempting to bring a teen center to Douglas County will be meeting with the Boys and Girls Club March 15 at 7 p.m. at the DHS library about collaborating. The group is looking for interested teen-agers to get involved.