Commissioner Sharon Fyffe

A lot is happening in our City. Coming up very soon are the RED LIGHT CAMERAS that are presently being installed right now at six different intersections in West Park. We hope the RED LIGHT CAMERAS will change driving behaviors in West Park. According to the IIHS, 651 people were killed and over 100,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running in 2010. And about half of the deaths were pedestrians, bicyclists and innocent occupants of other vehicles. LET’S KEEP OUR INTERSECTIONS SAFE here in West Park. Some people are saying the red light cameras will cause more rear-end collisions. When you drive a motor vehicle, you must keep your vehicle under control at all times. If you rear-end someone, whether at a red light or at any other time, you get a ticket. You are responsible for the collision; you are cited. It means you were driving too close and too fast and you lost control of your vehicle.

So, please remember to drive with care at all times and also remember when you are driving in other neighboring cities and cities around the state, they too have RED LIGHT CAMERAS flashing at violators. Slow down or you will be paying RED LIGHT CAMERA fines in other cities too. The fine for a RED LIGHT CAMERA citation is $158.00 Let me now introduce you to Ebony Jackson, a West Park resident. Ebony is deaf. Here is her story (reduced from the original):

“My name is Ebony Jackson. I am married and I have two wonderful kids ages eight and fifteen. We are now residents of West Park. We moved here from Dade County about a year ago and we love it here living in West Park.

I was born and raised in Miami. I became officially deaf at the age of two. It was due to severe fevers. After my diagnosis, my mother took several sign language classes just so she could communicate with me and she also bought me a hearing aide. My mother insisted I attend regular school with hearing kids so I would receive a regular high school diploma. She did not enroll me in special education classes. I also took speech therapy and sign language.

Growing up and in school, I felt like an outcast. I was bullied. Kids would call me every name in the book. I used to come home crying every day until one day my mama sat down and had a talk with me about “life”. She explained to me that not everyone will accept me, that I would have to work extra hard and that I will be discriminated against for three reasons: I’m black, deaf and a woman. Here’s when reality sat in with me. She blind folded me with a scarf and strapped me into a wheelchair. Then she took out my hearing aide so that I couldn’t hear. Then after that, she asked me to get a glass of water. Being strapped in a wheelchair and blindfolded, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see to find a glass nor could I get up from the wheelchair. I began to understand where she was coming from. She asked me about how I felt about the whole ordeal and which disability do I prefer to be. I told her that I felt trapped and that I prefer to be deaf. Mama went on to say, no matter what, you are blessed to be able to see, walk and to be able to have some hearing abilities. She also said that GOD blessed me with hands to communicate, be thankful. Some people are blind and paralyzed and some may not have hands. Never forget that, she said. From that point on I began to feel good about “self”. I quit hiding my hearing aide with my hair, I wore a ponytail, and I put my shame aside and stood tall. It didn’t matter to me what anyone thought of me, I was to be on a mission to be proud of myself. In high school I was known as “the only deaf girl in school” and/or “deaf girl”. I hated that but thank God for my teachers. I say this because I had three high school teachers that loved me. They were always there for me in time of need. They assigned a sign language interpreter for me all through high school, that made my life a lot easier. How cool was that!

I graduated from Miami Senior High School in 1995. After that I went to Broward Community College. Mama found out that there was a deaf college in Washington, D.C., Gallaudet University. I applied and was accepted. I learned this was the only deaf university in the world. When I first came to Gallaudet University, I had a cultural shock. It was like a whole new world for me. It was so different, awesome and unique! Everyone on campus signs. I fell in love with life and my deaf culture. I began to feel good about myself. I didn’t want to come back to Florida for nothing! I stayed in Washington, D.C. for six years I worked on campus and I majored in deaf studies and minored in criminal justice. I endured hardships and homelessness. But I knew somehow I wanted to be a mouth for the deaf and that I was going to make it one day no matter what. When my time in D.C. was over, I came back to Miami. When I started hanging out with deaf people in Miami, I began to see their hardship. I heard their cry. I saw how their families abandoned them. I saw women have four and five children with no father in the household. I believe that deaf people deserve the same rights as the other people.

I believe the deaf should be serviced properly. I believe they should be treated equally. I prayed to God to show me the way but it would take time and faith. I learned the history of the deaf, I learned our deaf ancestors had hardships too. I also learned that our deaf ancestors fought for causes and for our rights. I found that several organizations and agencies marched to the White House and protested as well. I learned a lot about my deaf culture. But what I didn’t know was where and how to get resources.

In 2010 I moved to West Park. The first thing I asked myself was, where are the deaf? What services does West Park provide for the deaf? Who do I speak to? I am thinking about establishing a deaf ministry, providing interpreting services for the deaf, scholarship services and more. I am proud to say I am a deaf resident of West Park. Although I do not now have many resources, I will do whatever I possibly can for our deaf community. God will direct my path. I just know he will.”

And now let me introduce you to another West Park resident, Mr. Cupid, Don Sutherland. Don writes: “I am a single man who wants all the single women to be my Valentine. I plan to run for Mayor of West Park in 2017 on a sinner’s platform.”

Don has lived in our area for forty years. He at one time owned a machine shop in Miami for twenty-five years before coming to the West Park area. Don lives in the Lake Forest area of West Park. He attends the City Commission meetings, and City events and also the senior breakfasts at the Resource Center. Each year on Valentine’s Day he dresses up as Cupid and hands out heart-shaped boxes of chocolates (about 100 of them) to the people of our community. Thank you, Don, for your community spirit and your thoughtfulness!

Do you have questions or concerns about bulk trash, speeding, barking dogs, loose dogs, etc? Give me a call. As always, I am at your service. 954-963-7745.

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