Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

February 7, 2010

SAFETY: Determined teen takes on tough task in rural area

LOCKPORT — By Bill Wolcott


HARTLAND — Starting a neighborhood watch is a difficult task for anyone, according to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department.

Consider a 17-year-old freshman at St. Mary’s for the Deaf taking on the task in the rural communities of Hartland, Middleport and Gasport.

James Solomon, who was declared functionally deaf as an infant and has a speech impairment, is doing the job.

The Stone Road resident has set up a Web site, printed business cards, made professional signs and brings in speakers for his monthly meetings at the Hartland Town Hall on Ridge Road.

“It’s a big undertaking,” Chief Deputy Steven Preisch said at the Saturday morning meeting. “In our society, people are so busy; it’s not until they are victims that they come to be involved. It’s tough to get people involved.”

Deputy Roger Haseley and Preisch spoke to an audience of six: Solomon; his mother, Tonia Scarborough; a neighbor; a volunteer fireman; a councilman; and a reporter.

Solomon, who also is a junior volunteer fireman, was not deterred by the small attendance. His mom supports him along the way and helps with some of the words he had trouble saying.

“He has his own style,” said Supervisor William Annable, who has noted Solomon’s interest at the town board meetings. “He’s difficult to understand, but his heart’s in the right place.”

Annable recalled that the youth was instrumental in getting a used clothing pick-up bin at Hartland Fire Hall. Solomon has worked on fire company projects with the school.

“James has great sensitivity for someone his age,” said Paul Crowley, the director of students at St. Mary’s. “He’s a joy. He very respectful, outgoing and well-liked. He’ll engage you. He’ll stop in my office and say ‘hello.’ He’ll address people.”

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