PIONEER — Bad news always travels fast but every once in a while a good idea travels faster.
Pioneer Street Superintendent Anthony Burnett got busy painting thin blue lines in support of local law enforcement through the downtown area Monday afternoon after seeing it done elsewhere that morning.
“Another town in Ohio did it,” Burnett said. “I don’t know where, just caught a glimpse of it on Facebook. Seemed like a good idea here so I brought it up to the mayor. He was 100% on board so I got a can of blue paint and ran with it. It took about an hour.”
The lines are centered at State Street and Baubice Street and run one block in either direction north and south on State Street and one block east on Baubice Street.
In his press release announcing the change, Mayor Ed Kidston wrote, “You will notice an important addition to the first block of town regardless if you are headed North, South, East, or West. The double yellow line is to remind you to stay on your side of the road but the center blue line is so residents and non-residents alike will understand without doubt the Village of Pioneer will never defund our police, fire or emergency personnel.
“We will always respect their service to our community,” Kidston wrote. “We will always have their back. We will always be thankful for their dedication. In Pioneer we are blessed with outstanding individuals who work tirelessly year in and year out to keep our community safe and secure. God Bless each and every one of you!”
By early Tuesday afternoon his post went viral with 1,700 shares on Facebook.
“I can’t believe it exploded like that,” Kidston said. “It’s nothing political. We just wanted to let everybody know we have really good people here. They’re human beings and they make mistakes, but we all do, and we’re going to watch out for them the same way they watch out for us.”
Burnett also painted another blue line in front of the public safety building, where Police Chief Tim Livengood works.
“I had no idea,” Livengood said. “I came out at the end of my shift and I was like, ‘Whoa! Kind of cool but, uh, I didn’t put that there.’
“It’s a nice gesture from our own community,” the chief said. “They have continually lent their support to all of our first responders.
“This is small-town America and I’m very proud of it,” Livengood said. “Not just professionally but as a person. This is where we’re raised to treat everybody with respect; My mom would have corrected me if I hadn’t and rightly so. I mean, we’ve had people come into town to protest, and I’m good with that. Everybody’s free to speak their mind and make their point. I just don’t want anybody to get hurt. That’s why we serve.
“The blue line is controversial for some, it means to me everything law enforcement is supposed to represent,” Livengood said. “It is the visible representation of the line between chaos and civility that your officers are sworn to protect and serve. It represents honor, integrity, humility, humanity, family and dedication to others.
“The line should be, and I hope is, an image of positivity and inclusion that we are all in this together as a strong and supportive community. I hope it reminds you that we are here for you when needed and called upon no matter what the need might be,” Livengood said.