SACO, Maine — For years, a Maine coon cat named Two Face would cross Summer Street to visit students at the playground at C.K. Burns elementary school.
The four-legged friend was, as Burns School Principal Lila Mitchell put it, “a part of the school community.”
“She’d always been an outside cat,” said the cat’s owner, Ted Sirois, who also is a member of the Saco school board.
He said his kids named her Two Face because the coloring on one side of her face was different from the other side, and she looked like two different cats when viewed from the side.
Two Face died Wednesday after being hit by a car while making her regular trek to Burns School.
Her family, which had her for 10 years, is devastated.
“She was fantastic,” Sirois said.
The loss also reverberated throughout Burns School, which serves grades three to five. And it’s causing police to examine traffic in the area.
Mitchell said Two Face was a friendly, beautiful cat who was adored by the students. She said the cat would always show up when the students were outside, and had been known to take a nap in the back seat of a school staff member’s car if the windows were left open.
Sirois said new traffic patterns caused by changes to school start times this year played a part in Two Face’s demise.
“Two Face had been making this trek across Summer Street for years without any problems,” he wrote in a letter to the Journal Tribune. “Unfortunately, things have changed since the last school year.”
With the new school schedule, busses are traveling during peak traffic hours, and more drivers are using Winter, Middle and Summer streets to avoid traffic lights at the corner of Beach and Main streets.
There are a number of people who are speeding down those side streets and not honoring posted speed limits of 25 mph, Sirois said.
As a school board member, he said, he’s gotten a lot of complaints about traffic problems with the new busing schedule, and he believes Summer Street, which runs alongside C.K. Burns School, should be a designated school zone.
Mitchell said there is a problem with traffic congestion during dismissal and arrival times, and that the school community needs to work together to help eliminate it.
Saco Police Chief Bradley Paul said school zones are covered mostly by state law, and there is no magic pill to slow down traffic. He noted that the 15-mph designation in school zones is only in effect for scheduled time around school arrival and dismissal.
“Like water, [traffic] seeks its own level and finds its own path,” said Paul.
Paul said when the Police Department receives complaints about traffic in a certain area, it often brings a traffic recorder to the area for a period to “get a real feel” on traffic volumes and speeds.
Paul said he believed if Summer Street wasn’t a school zone, it probably should be, as there is an entrance to the school along the street. He said he plans to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, Two Face will be missed by all who knew her.
The Sirois family received a handmade card from one of the students with a note saying that her entire class was sad. The student said when she heard the news, she cried a lot, she wasn’t able to sing in music class, and she now hates Wednesdays.
“The kids [at the school] got quite attached to her,” said Sirois.