County approves golf carts as transport between Callaway Middle and Elementary School

Published 8:44 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

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Motorists should be a bit more careful when traveling near Callaway Elementary and Callaway Middle School on Tin Bridge Road as golf carts carrying sick kids will soon be on the roadway between the schools.

On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners approved a text amendment that will allow school officials to transport students from Callaway Middle School across the road to Callaway Elementary to use the clinic located behind the school.

The students will be transported to the WellStar Pediatric Clinic, which opened behind Callaway Elementary School in May 2022 to address student health needs. The clinic is part of a pilot program funded by the Callaway Foundation, Troup County School System and Wellstar in partnership with United Way and others.

TCSS Safety Director Steve Heaton requested a text amendment to the county ordinance to allow for easier transport of students from one school to the other, which he said has been a problem since the clinic’s inception.

“You can do it by car of course, but it would be much easier and also efficient to do that by golf cart. The problem is we’ve got to cross Tin Bridge Road between the two driveways, so we’ve been looking at how we can do that and make sure it’s legal for us to be able to do that,” Heaton said.

School Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate said TCSS was originally looking at a special crosswalk and got into talks with the county to do so. Eventually, they landed on the golf cart idea and funding was granted from the Callaway Foundation to purchase one to transport kids to the clinic, Shumate said.

Heaton said that an ordinance would be required to allow golf carts to cross the county road. Only adults will be allowed to drive the carts, which will have lights and a red flag to warn other motorists. Stop signs will also be on both sides of the intersection, he said.

The crossing is limited within posted school zone speed limits and drivers will be required to follow all federal, state and local driver regulations.

Shumate said they want more students to have access to the clinic, and this will help them do so.

“We want to make it more accessible to more kids and have those [usage] numbers go up,” Shumate said.

“There aren’t other clinics out in that area, so parents would have to come to get their kid from school if they are sick and take them into LaGrange or Hogansville to their doctor or immediate care. This way they can see a nurse practitioner who can prescribe medicine and decide if the kid is well enough to go back to class or not.”

Shumate said the clinic at Callaway Elementary served 362 students from September to May for an average of 40.2 students per month. February was the highest usage month for the clinic, which saw 61 students. The lowest number was in September when only 15 students utilized the clinic.

No one spoke for or against the issue during a public hearing on the matter.

Ultimately, the commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance amendment by a 3-0 vote, with Commissioner Lewis Davis absent.