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Slow down in school zones

An electronic speed sign is set-up on Minnesota Street at Grainer Park in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

Slow down in school zones, Mitchell drivers.

With the start of school Monday, the Mitchell Department of Public Safety is urging caution to motorists passing through school zones, and likely will equip those areas with speed boards.

The city has three of the portable devices that use radar to monitor the speeds of those driving through town. Mitchell Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg said the boards have been placed recently in residential areas to make drivers aware of their speed.

"We've had them for a while and they've been a very good tool for our department to get an idea of trends of how fast drivers in Mitchell are traveling," he said.

Mitchell bought one speed board each year in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and they cost about $5,000 each. Those have been partially paid for with the help of federal grant funding, with the city usually having to put forth about 20 percent of the cost and the grants covering the remaining 80 percent. They operate for about 5 to 7 days before they need to be recharged, Overweg said.

The city places the boards in locations around the city based on observations from city patrol officers or complaints from residents about speeds in their neighborhoods. He said that many times speeds are not nearly as fast as some people who live in the area claim they are.

"We've found that speeds aren't always as high as what we're hearing about," Overweg said.

Overweg said the board will also produce reports based on the number of cars going past the location and recording how fast those cars are traveling, potentially pointing out speed problem areas in the city.

"They work and they're a good reminder to drivers as they're in their vehicles," he said.