Changes in traffic, parking make graduation a breeze

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Class of 2015 told to ‘dream, imagine, hope': More than 3,500 images

ROCKINGHAM — The air was hot, oppressive and, for the most part, still. Despite that, changes in traffic flow and parking procedures for those arriving for a major event at Raider Stadium made entrance a breeze.

Richmond County Schools Special Police joined with 11 deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and Anthony Bostick, a custodian at Richmond Senior High School to make both the inbound and outbound lanes of the Fayetteville Road entrance inbound-only. The joint effort, assisted by a series of visible traffic cones from the Hamlet Police Department, helped make entry a smooth process for family members and friends of the 442 graduates who received their diplomas on Friday night at Richmond Senior High School.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Spectators at the 42nd annual Richmond Senior High School commencement had plenty of reasons to celebrate Friday night, but the evening began with a smooth traffic flow into the school parking lot.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Spectators at the 42nd annual Richmond Senior High School commencement had plenty of reasons to celebrate Friday night, but the evening began with a smooth traffic flow into the school parking lot.

Special Police Chief Bob Steele, who replaced Marc Terry after he accepted a position with the Hamlet Police Department, said traffic was lined up on U.S. Route 1 nearly 1.5 miles back to Food Lion prior to the 41st annual commencement exercise in June 2014. The backup caused many to miss the entire procession and some even missed some speakers’ remarks.

Steele said Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. assigned Capt. Mike Burns to the assignment of helping to create a better process, one that eased tensions between event officials and guests. On Friday night, everyone was off the road by 8:05 p.m.

Word didn’t get out about the change, Burns said, which caused some people to question why handicapped motorists were directed to a far-away parking lot instead of their normal location underneath the scoreboard area. They were assuaged when told there were Area of Richmond Transit shuttle vans waiting to transport them from their vehicles right to the edge of the high school track.

“The biggest thing is getting the word out,” Burns said in the likelihood that a similar approach would be used for the next big event at Raider Stadium, telling people “what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Richmond County Sheriff's Office deputies and Richmond County Schools Special Police officers get together shortly after the end of Friday night's graduation ceremony.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Richmond County Schools Special Police officers get together shortly after the end of Friday night’s graduation ceremony.

Burns said Richmond  County Schools paid for the manpower from the the sheriff’s office and ART. The cost of the operation was not immediately available. But whatever the cost, Burns said the new measures seemed to work — and helped to put everyone in a better mood for what should be a festive occasion.

Readers weighed in on The Pee Dee Post‘s Facebook page Friday night shortly after the ceremony. They expressed concerns about the low volume of the speaker system and additional locations other than the entrance gates where water could be purchased. Other than that, however, there were precious few issues raised.

“I think it went great,” said Lori Kuhn Wright, who watched her son, Benjamin James Szymarek, graduate with the other 441 graduates. Wright compared it to last year’s ceremony, in which her daughter graduated. “This year seemed smoother.”

Jennifer Blake echoed Wright’s sentiments.

“I think things went well,” Blake posted. “Our police and deputies keep traffic moving fairly smoothly, on the way in and out.”

Karen McLean spoke for school staff. She’s the secretary in Richmond Senior’s Career Information Center.

“Another great night,” McLean summarized.

McLean gave parking and law enforcement efforts an “A+.”

Carl Jean Lee agreed. Officers “did a great job getting people parked and then getting them out.”

* * * 

Authorities arrested one person Friday night for disorderly conduct. An officer said the person was continually swore at the officer with an expletive-filled tirade. The person was transported to the Richmond County Magistrate’s Office.

The person’s identity could not immediately be confirmed.

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety, Rockingham

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  • Gregg Steele

    It was RSHS 43rd graduation ceremony since the school began with the school year 1972-73….I was in the 10th graduating class in 1982…I graduated 33 years ago…making this the 43rd graduation at RSHS..

    • Kevin Spradlin

      I understand your math, Mr. Steele. I’ll have to confirm this with the school system on Monday (if I can’t do so before then). I reported last year’s graduation exercise as 41st annual, and no one said a thing. No one said a thing on the original graduation story from last night, and I know many people saw it.

      I’ll confirm and update the story as needed. Thank you.

      Kevin

      • Kevin Spradlin

        Hi Mr. Steele,

        An update: I was able to verify that this year’s graduating class is, indeed, the 42nd graduating class from Richmond Senior High School.

        RSHS opened in the fall of 1972, so the first class received diplomas in the Spring of 1973.

        – Kevin

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