SULPHUR — Emoji radar signs will now greet motorists on Beglis Parkway thanks to a Sulphur Community Impact Program project unveiled this week.
The radar speed signs are next to W.W. Lewis Middle School and R.W. Vincent Elementary. They flash the speed of the nearest motorist and display a happy face or thumbs-up emoji if the speed is within an acceptable range.
If not, drivers will see a sad face or thumbs-down emoji.
Sulphur Police Chief Lewis Coats said the signs are a traffic-calming measure. He said they work by alerting newcomers to the area of the speed limit and remind native motorists they are traveling in a school zone.
"They work and these are on one of the biggest speeding corridors in the city," Coats said.
The city will take over maintenance of the signs.
The five students selected for this year's initiative — Alejandra Gomez, Samantha Ducote, Haley Denton, Charity Celestine and Kyla Malbrough — donated the two radar speed signs to the city in an effort to increase pedestrian safety. The $7,402 donation is part of an annual $25,000 grant provided by Tellurian's Youth Community Impact Program to Sulphur High School.
"These students are to be commended for making our community better and for caring about children's safety," Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said.
This is the second year of the program in which selected students are challenged to meet with community leaders to identify a need and then develop a sustainable plan to address it.
Gomez said the program taught her about what goes on behind the scenes in a municipality. She noted that getting an idea off the ground is "time consuming."
Malbrough said she enjoyed meeting people she otherwise would not have encountered.
"And it taught us how work with others," she said. "It taught us budgeting, which is really important. You dream of one day having your own company, and this is a really good experience."
The team, with minimal guidance from SCIP Sulphur High Teacher Sponsor Theresa Crook, worked with Danahay, Coats, Sulphur Public Relations & Marketing Specialist Erica Martin, Kenneth Huval with Evangeline Specialties and the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana to bring the project to fruition. Heather Hohensee, manager of government and public affairs for Tellurian, served as liaison.
"This program teaches critical thinking, planning and problem solving," Hohensee said.
A new SCIP team will be selected at the beginning of next school year and Tellurian has plans to expand the program to other local schools.