City of Kenosha Crossing Guard Ernest Fisher spends each weekday morning and afternoon making split decisions — dodging in and out of traffic — at the corner of 43rd Street and Sheridan Road.
As an avid Chicago Bears’ fan, Fisher jokes that he missed his calling as an NFL return man.
“He always says that when he’s done being a crossing guard, he’ll go play for the Bears,” Kenosha Police Department Safety Officer Tyler Cochran said. “If he can dodge these cars, he can return punts.”
Fisher is one of 38 Kenosha crossing guards tasked with the important job of keeping local students safe on their walk to-and-from school. For their dedication and service to the community, the State of Wisconsin has declared Jan. 9-13 Adult School Crossing Guard Recognition Week.
Kenosha crossing guards work 30-minute morning shifts and 30-minute afternoon shifts, primarily at public elementary schools throughout the city.
Fisher, 71, handles Jefferson Elementary School and Washington Middle School at the busiest Kenosha Unified School District intersection at 43rd Street and Sheridan Road.
Nearly 18 years ago, Fisher specifically requested the most challenging intersection in the city. It’s a testament to his work ethic, character and ability.
“It started as a part-time job and grew into much more than that,” said Fisher, the son of former North Chicago Police Chief Ernest Fisher Sr. “I worked at Chrysler. When I retired, I didn’t do anything for three years. One morning, I woke up and said I have to do something to keep busy.
“I enjoy being around kids and communicating with the people who go by every morning. I wave to them. They wave back.”
Fisher said he developed a unique relationship with a young boy who would wave to him every morning as his mother drove down Sheridan Road.
“I got a chance to meet him a few times,” Fisher said. “His name is Sebastian. I suspect he’ll be driving himself around any day now. That shows how long I’ve been on this corner.”
Fisher isn’t the elder statesman of the group, however. Far from it.
Kenosha’s Karen Ovitt is in her 47th year as a Kenosha Crossing Guard. She assists Fisher at 43rd and Sheridan in the afternoons and handles Bose Elementary and Curtis Strange in the mornings.
Ovitt, who was hired in 1976, was honored for 45 years of service by the Kenosha Police Department on Feb. 3, 2021.
“She’s been doing this longer than I’ve been alive,” Cochran said. “She told me that when she first started, she almost quit. An accident happened near her crossing and she thought about leaving. She stuck it out and has been here ever since.”
Cochran said the city is blessed with a wonderful group of crossing guards, who are paid two hours per day at $12 to $16 per hour for a split morning-afternoon shift.
“We have a really good crew,” Cochran said. “On top of the traffic aspect, they’re a positive influence to these kids. A lot of these students don’t always have that in the morning. They become good role models for them.”