CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Clay County is struggling to hire and retain crossing guards to help students safely walk to and from school, and currently has just 40 employees to fill 50 crossing guard posts.
Despite the shortage one local veteran continues to work the job.
Low pay, split shifts and a low unemployment rate are among the reasons for the crossing guard shortage in Clay County.
For more than seven years 92-year-old Mel Garrett has been standing at the same corner every morning and afternoon.
He is helping students and parents at Argyle Elementary School cross the street safely.
“The kids call me Mr. Mel,” said Garrett.
On Monday, he celebrated 92 years of life.
“I think it helps the kids to show that there is somebody that cares about them,” said Garrett.
A stack of handwritten birthday cards is what students at the school surprised him with after school on Thursday.
“I like the fact that I’m out here interacting with the kids giving them something to do rather than just sit home and watch television all day,” said Garrett.
He’s a WWII veteran, but said the most dangerous place he’s experienced is the intersection.
“The only frustration is the cars. If they would just slow down a little bit and give these kids a chance to get home to and from safely every day,” explained Garrett.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is looking to hire 10 crossing guards to help out at local schools.
The shifts would be in the morning and afternoons.
Garrett said this job keeps him happy.
“It’s a day well spent. I always say if you’re late, you’re already late so just take your time because the clock is not going to turn back,” said Garrett.
If you’d like to apply to become a crossing guard, the Sheriff’s Office said this is a great opportunity for anyone who’s looking to make some extra cash.
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