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Leading the way for seniors behind the wheel

Sheryl MerCord (left) and Dawn Wettern accept from David Harms one of the inaugural Top 100 Host Awards on behalf of Red Wing Community Education, given out by AARP for its driver safety courses. Red Wing Community Education was one of eight educational institutions to receive the award.

Across the nation, 18,000 community organizations offer AARP’s driver safety course. This year Red Wing Community Education was recognized as one of the top 100 institutions in the nation to offer the class.

For 25 years Red Wing Community Education has offered the classes and in 2013 Red Wing Community Education offered 17 courses and reached close to 400 participants, earning the district the Top 100 Host Award.

What sets Community Education apart is it’s one of eight educational institutions to receive the award nationwide.

“We were really surprised and honored by this,” Community Education Director Dawn Wetter said. “We are extremely proud and honored.”

The course is designed for those over 50 years of age to help them stay up to date on the best ways to be safe when behind the wheel, Wettern said. Taking the course also helps keep insurance costs down, she added. 

“I think it’s wonderful because (the program) falls in to our mission of lifelong learning,” Wettern said.

All instructors volunteer their time, Wettern said, and the events draw people from the surrounding area with years where close to 500 have attended various classes.

Wettern said Community Education is all about offering programs that can benefit the community, which is one of the reasons the award is significant.

“I cannot thank you and your staff enough for your ongoing leadership, commitment and generosity,” wrote Julie Lee, vice president and national director of AARP Driver Safety, in a letter addressed to Red Wing Community Education.

Of the top 100 organizations – this being the first year as an official award – New York brought the most awards with 43 and Minnesota was second with 26.

AARP Driver Safety has courses in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all the U.S. Virgin Islands.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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