The city of Ashland has a new claim to fame as home to America's top crossing guard.
Ashland police chief Lyn Woolford received the honor of America's Favorite Crossing Guard on Monday. The contest was sponsored by FedEx and Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit focused on preventing accidental injuries to children. The contest included 169 applicants receiving more than 90,000 votes. Woolford was nominated by an Ashland parent.
Woolford performs daily crossing guard duties at Southern Boone Elementary in addition to his chief of police role. The Southern Boone School District will receive $10,000 in prize money for future road safety projects.
“Chief Woolford has made such a difference in our community,” said Jenny Brooks, coordinator for Safe Kids Columbia, said in a statement. “Ashland has grown so quickly in the past few years, so (Woolford's) attention to safety has been critical for the area. We are so grateful to have such a wonderful advocate to help keep our kids safe.”
The second-place finisher was Sarah Mason of Hagerstown, Maryland, and third place went to Oby Perdue of Barberton, Ohio.
Woolford's fun, friendly approach is one of the reasons he stands out. Woolford wears comical hats during crossing guard duty. He started wearing them during holidays and not long after parents began giving him new hats to add to his collection. He now has 29 hats he keeps in his police cruiser. Woolford has served as a crossing guard since being hired as police chief in 2013.
He previously told the Tribune that wearing funny hats began as a way to make him more approachable to kids. Then the concept took off.
“I started wearing hats and the kids would smile and wave,” he said. “It was working out as a great introduction of a police officer to the kids."
Woolford received the most overall votes in the contest, but that alone wasn't enough to win the title. Judges also considered nomination statements, crossing guard safety record, proactive initiatives the nominee has taken, level of involvement in the community and length of service.