Updated

Lancaster County could become the first Nebraska county with a policy allowing roadside memorial signs in lieu of private remembrances with stuffed animals, flowers, crosses, etc.

The Lancaster County Board is expected to consider a roadside memorial policy, drafted by County Engineer Pam Dingman, and conduct a public hearing on the policy at its 9 a.m. Dec. 5 meeting. 

Four different message signs will be available for purchase by a relative of a person who died in a crash or by friends, with the written permission of a relative. 

* Please Drive Safely

* Seat Belts Save Lives

* Please Watch For Bicyclists

* Don't Drink and Drive. 

The blue, rectangular signs will include the name or names of crash victims, except for drunk drivers.

Signs memorializing an intoxicated driver will not include the name of the deceased, according to the policy. Instead it will read "sponsored by," with the family name or applicant. 

A sign, available for a $100 application fee, will be installed on a county road in close proximity to where the accident occurred, for at least three years and up to six years.  

Dingman asked for the roadside memorial policy to allow families to honor crash victims without creating a hazard for drivers and others.  

County roads, unlike city streets, do not have shoulders or sidewalks or safe ways for people to pull over, she has said. 

The signs will also help educate and remind drivers to drive safely, said Commissioner Roma Amundson. 

After the sign policy goes into effect, county engineering staff will remove private memorials on county road rights-of-way when they are a hazard.  

"What we are really trying to do is to keep people out of the right-of-way where they are not safe," said Dingman.

Dingman said she worries about people on high-speed county roads, stopping to drop things off or look at a memorial. 

"My concern is safety. We are trying to offer a very respectful alternative."

The program is modeled after memorial sign programs in Colorado and other states. 

Commissioner Jennifer Brinkman cautioned Dingman about removing spontaneous roadside memorials too quickly. 

"We don't want to be the ones scooping it up off the road in a day or two," she said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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