Mother works to get new handicap sign in Grayton

Nathan Cobb | 315-4432 | @WaltonSunNate | nathan@waltonsun.com
The aged handicap-accessibility sign on the side of Hotz Road in Grayton Beach is expected to be replaced early this month. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

A local woman recently made it her mission to insure a worn-down handicap-accessibility sign gets replaced.

Sharon O'Prey moved from Atlanta to Walton County about a year ago after years of vacationing and dreaming of calling the Emerald Coast home. However, upon arriving, she said she noticed things around the county — in particular, a faded sign on the side of Hotz Road in Grayton Beach, facing The Zoo Gallery — that she thought could be improved to help the less fortunate members of society.

"I mean, there's nothing left of that accessible sign," O'Prey said, who shared that her 29-year-old daughter, Adrienne, suffers from cerebral palsy and other intellectual disabilities. "There's no blue left on it, there's no white left on it, there's no logo period left on it."

After countless phone calls to find out who's responsible for replacing the sign, O'prey reached out to the Southeast Regional Americans with Disabilities Office in Atlanta. They looked up the Walton County ADA coordinator, but their information was out of date and person was no longer in the position.

Again, she reached out to the Atlanta office, where she was told by an ADA information specialist that if a county has more than 50 employees, it's legally required to have an ADA coordinator.

"My husband and I are assuming Walton County has more than 50 employees," She said. "So, that's the next thing I would like to see (the county) solve. ... Then maybe I wouldn't have had to make so many darn phone calls."

Louis Svehla, Walton County public information manager, said that he wasn't sure whose responsibility it is, but the county ordered a new sign anyway, which he expected to be installed by the end of this week.

"Signs get old, and we try to replace them when we know about them, but if we don't know about them, we can't," Svehla said

He also said that he wasn't sure who the acting ADA coordinator for the county was, but that since O'Prey last contacted Walton County public officials, he's removed the former coordinator's name from public records.

"We try to keep our signs (in Walton County) as good as we can," he said. "A lot of times, we won't know issues with signs unless people call us."