Donald Manley is a fixture at Patricia Avenue and Union Street. He has been a school crossing guard for the past seven years, and for the past several of those, he has helped students travel to and from to the north.
"I'm like a postman — I'm here rain, sleet or snow. But we don't get too much snow here," Manley said in his distinct Boston accent. "I never thought I'd be doing this."
Given the proximity of the intersection to the school, Manley often assists hundreds of students each morning and afternoon.
The job hasn't been without hazard. Manley "has had to deal with several gang fights, gunfire in the area and a student being shot by a BB gun," according to a media release from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
For his perseverance, the Sheriff's Office recognized Manley with the 2012 Maybelle Rollins Bradford Award this month. The award is based on factors including attendance, conduct, care of students, length of service and hazards at the crossing.
On Monday afternoon, Manley was on guard as usual.
When a handful of students became the first trickle of pedestrians waiting to cross the street, he observed, "This is nothing. Just wait."
He was right. Soon, the intersection was engulfed by students in groups of a dozen or more.