WHITEFIELD — A small group of townspeople and town officials will meet Wednesday with members of the Amish community to discuss ways to make town roads safer for their horse-drawn buggies as well as other vehicles following two recent accidents, Select Board Chairman Tony Marple said Thursday.

State Department of Transportation traffic engineer David Allen also is expected to attend the meeting, which Marple said will not be open to the public. Marple has invited representatives of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, but has not received a response.

Wednesday’s meeting will address what the town can do to make roads safer, especially as more Amish people move into the area, Marple said.

“Clearly, we’re going to need more (signs),” Marple said. “We’ll also need a map of where they’re living and their travel routes.”

A sport utility vehicle hit an Amish buggy Oct. 4 in Whitefield, prompting town officials to discuss possible additional safety measures on town roads.

The most important way to ensure the safety of people operating a horse-and-buggy will be making drivers aware and making sure they drive under the speed limit on town roads, Selectman Frank Ober said.

“The big issue with these folks is them just being out of sight when you come around a curve or the crest of a hill,” Ober said. “Lights (on the buggy) or signs won’t change that.”

A horse-drawn buggy was rear-ended Oct. 4, and there was also a minor accident on Sept. 28. Nobody was injured, but there was damage to the vehicles, including thousands of dollars worth to the horse-drawn carriage. The incidents prompted the Select Board to begin talking about ways to make the town safer for its Amish residents.

Allen said the transportation department will add information – such as “Horse and Buggy next three miles” – to existing warning signs. They also might add additional signs in places around Whitefield where the Amish typically travel, he said.

Chief Deputy Rand Maker said there is an electric information sign on East River Road, and the sheriff’s office plans to move it around Whitefield during the next few months in hopes of alerting as many motorists as possible to the presence of horse-drawn carriages.

At least three Amish families moved into Whitefield and Jefferson last spring after moving from New York state and Kentucky. Whitefield officials added horse-and-buggy signs around town following their arrival.

The board also has discussed adding larger signs on roads entering the town that would read “Welcome to Whitefield. Beware of horse-and-buggy.” He said the cost for that type of sign would have to be included in the annual budget, but it will be examined next year.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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