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Gainesville man eases school traffic for nearly 40 years
Jacob Wilmont directs motorists at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy
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Traffic guard Jacob Wilmont directs traffic Thursday afternoon in front of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. He has been the crossing guard for the school for nearly 40 years. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Jacob Wilmont is a jack-of-all-trades.

He has driven a taxicab, operated a local community center and owned a couple of small businesses throughout the years, including a grocery store.

And that’s not even the half of it.

“I stay pretty busy,” Wilmont said, explaining many Gainesville residents might recognize him from one of his many endeavors. “Everybody knows me.”

But his presence is most visible at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. The 78-year-old is the school’s traffic guard. Wilmont dons a luminescent jacket twice a day to help guide drivers and promote safety along Enota Avenue in Gainesville.

Plus, he has an added incentive. One of his grandchildren attends the school.

“It’s the way I help the children,” Wilmont said.

With nearly 40 years of experience under his belt, Wilmont is known for his skill and efficiency.

“He does a wonderful job,” said Jennifer Westbrook, assistant principal of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

Westbrook said she appreciates Wilmont’s efforts to always talk with the children he guards. She can also count on his effectiveness.

Wilmont arrives 20 minutes early for his shift every day. Then he sets up the orange cones on the road to mark the beginning or ending of the school day. Finally, he slips on his luminescent jacket and white gloves to direct the onslaught of cars, vans and trucks descending on the school to pick up awaiting children.

Parent Michael Rifenburg tweeted about Wilmont’s efficiency.

“Much love to crossing guard outside of @enotamiacademy. Gotta be a hard job and he does it well.”

The school’s Twitter account, @EnotaMIAcademy, retweeted the parent.

“When Jacob is not there, it does not run smoothly,” Westbrook said.

Wilmont does not limit his time on school grounds to mornings and afternoons. He also works PTA meetings or other events such as basketball and football games. During the athletic events he ensures the parking for emergency vehicles, which need to be close to the field or gym. He also locks up the gate after games.

When Wilmont was first approached about the position, he originally turned the job down.

“I was busy doing other stuff,” Wilmont said.

But Wilmont relented, replacing a woman who was retiring in 1976. The Gainesville Police Department instructed him on the proper ways to signal traffic through a school zone.

“(Capt. Black) taught me how to use my hands,” Wilmont said.

However, the school assignment was not Wilmont’s first stint as a traffic guard. He worked for Gainesville Parks and Recreation as a traffic guard as well as the supervisor of seven playgrounds across the city. He also supervised the other traffic guards.

The only element he does not enjoy about the job is being outside when it’s cold or raining.

“Other than that, I love it,” Wilmont said.

When he’s not acting as traffic guard, Wilmont fills his day with plenty of activities. Most of the time one can find him at St. John Baptist Church, where he has been a member for 20 years. He sings in the male chorus and attends church meetings regularly.

And whether he is praising God at church or protecting children at school, Wilmont does one thing religiously.

“I pray every morning,” he said.

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