HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It was back to school day in Harrison County on Thursday, and it was the first time D'Iberville High School students and parents put the new safety measures on Highway 67 through a heavy test.
Traffic at the entrance to D'Iberville High School at Big John Road on Highway 67 was heavy but smooth as parents came to get their children at the end of the first day of school. For now, the Harrison County Sheriff's Office and D'Iberville police are making sure things go smoothly. Deputies will be present throughout the month in the morning and afternoon. That's good news for parent Lisa Ewing.
"The traffic light's definitely going to help," she said. "It's going to help with the safety of the kids and the safety of the parents. And I really wish they'd get a traffic light right here at Big John. But the way they have it now, as long as the police presence is out there like it was today, it helps a lot. It's when there's no police presence there to monitor it that it doesn't do much good."
Maj. Bruce Carver Jr. with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department said the intersection is safe, but with a caveat.
"If the traffic control that is put in place by MDOT is used correctly, it will prevent a lot of accidents. But people have to use it correctly."
Big John is the intersection where siblings Jimmy Ward and Amanda Ward were killed on their way to school in March. Barricades keep traffic from turning left off Big John onto Highway 67. There is also a new traffic light at another intersection at Lamey Bridge Road that offers an alternative route. Deputies encourage inexperienced drivers to use that access to the school.
"I am absolutely satisfied with Lamey Bridge, yes," said parent Katherine Yates. "I think it should be totally cut off."
Linda Konscak preferred the light to be at Big John.
"I want to know what's more important: The lives of our children or a few dollars?" Konscak asked. "I've seen people go across in the ditch to the other side. It's not working. We need a red light."