Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Hometown Heroes

Former officer helping disabled

By Janet C. Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - In the past several years, "Colonel" Rodney E. Jackson's once-strong body has begun failing him.

He has heart problems and he often uses a wheelchair. But one thing hasn't changed - Jackson's determination to make a difference.

The former police officer has fought many battles, , both before he was forced to medically retire in 1995 and since.

He's won some, including founding the Greater Cincinnati Mediation Council for the Deaf in 1985 and The Police Interpreter's Association in 1986. He's also lost some, including a fight to get non-audible tornado warning systems for the hearing-impaired in communities nationwide.

Jackson has worked with the deaf since 1984 and worked as an interpreter for Hispanic immigrants. The Lebanon man's latest aim is to increase awareness of and compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Jackson - whose "colonel" title came from police assignments plus being named a Kentucky Colonel - said most of his crusades began by accident. That includes his latest, which started in 1999 after he got his Labrador service dog, Lieutenant.

"I started needing more help, and got a dog to help with things, such as opening the door for the life squad during an emergency," said Jackson, who

But the dog brought trouble as well as help. A simple trip to a grocery store caused conflict when employees did not want the leashed dog inside the store.

"I realized that if this was happening to me, it has to be happening to other people," he said. "I just jumped right in and started trying to make changes."

Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at jjwetzel@siscom.net, or fax to 513-755-4150.

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