Founded by Dorothy Chlad in 1964, the National Safety Town Center (NSTC) in Ohio was the first and only organization dedicated solely to promote early childhood safety education.
When O’Fallon Police Officer John Fomera learned about Safety Town in 1982, he began working with O’Fallon VFW Post 5077 and the Ladies’ Auxiliary to build support for a safety program for children. In 1984, Officer Fomera contacted NSTC for assistance. Upon arrival of the six-volume set of Safety Town instruction manuals and a slide-presentation given to VFW Post 5077 and Ladies’ Auxiliary, the enthusiasm for starting a Safety Town program was overwhelming. O’Fallon’s Safety Town was beginning to look like a reality.
The Ladies Auxiliary and Officer Fomera worked diligently within the community to promote Safety Town and raise the donations needed for supplies and program materials. It would take more than $10,000 in donations to cover the cost of supplies, buildings, cars, and program materials.
A cassette tape player-recorder, a pedal car and $1,000 in seed money were donated by the VFW Post and Ladies’ Auxiliary. The Jr. Girls Unit 5077 donated money for a pedal car, 13 Post and Auxiliary members donated money for six cars and a bicycle, and five local businesses donated four cars. In recognition of their support, donors’ names were painted onto the item(s) each had donated to Safety Town.
A local salvage yard donated seat belts to be installed in the pedal cars for the safety belt “Buckle-Up” program. The Ladies’ Auxiliary and Safety Chairwomen Thurman called upon local businesses to provide crayons, scissors, glue, safety color sheets and snacks for the students.
Plywood and paint were needed to build 10 buildings and make 55 traffic signs and posts for the Safety Town layout. The buildings were constructed by Fort Zumwalt Senior High School Shop Department students, and were painted by the Art Department. Permission was granted to use a school parking lot for Safety Town, and over 250 gallons of asphalt paint was used by volunteers to paint the 98-foot by 134-foot parking lot.
Registration dates were set, publicity releases went out, and 42 children were registered for the first Safety Town.
On July 21, 1985, a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the birth of the O’Fallon Safety Town Program with an NSTC-accredited, two-week, 25-hour safety course designed to promote basic safety skills for young children.