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Disabled Man Prevails in Railroad Crossing Repairs

A few weeks ago we told you the story of a 65-year-old man who would have to veer his wheelchair into traffic at a busy east Memphis intersection because of crumbled sidewalks at a railroad crossing.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A few weeks ago we told you the story of a 65-year-old man who would have to veer his wheelchair into traffic at a busy east Memphis intersection because of crumbled sidewalks at a railroad crossing.

Shelton Reece has emphysema so severe, that he can only take a few steps before he's out of breath. His motorized wheelchair is his life, and the railroad crossing at Southern Avenue and Highland Street was his hell. The sidewalk was in such bad condition that he had to veer out into traffic to get around.

He said he wouldn't quit until things got done. They got done.

The paving work at the Southern and Highland railroad crossing was a pain for motorists. But for Shelton Reece, it was the dream he'd been waiting for. Now it's smooth and slick, with not a rut or bump on the sidewalks.

"From what I see it looks good," Reece said, adding he didn't think they would really come out and fix it.

The heat and humidity made the job of breathing even more difficult for Shelton on this day. He is always on oxygen; his emphysema keeps him from doing anything strenuous. It didn't keep him from fighting.

We first met Shelton two weeks ago. He'd been fighting with the City of Memphis and the railroads about the conditions there since February. We found a man who was trying to cross asphalt that was rutted and grooved so deep his wheelchair wheels would just spin, not getting any traction.

We contacted Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little, who said it was the Norfolk Southern Railroad's responsibility.

"We'll follow up," Little told abc24.com, "And we'll encourage the railroad do the right thing."

We contacted the railroad too. They did the right thing. Shelton talked with them as well. We asked whether the City of Memphis helped.

"What, the city? Oh no."

So it was the work of a 65-year-old man with emphysema that did what the city couldn't or wouldn't do.

Shelton promises to keep in touch with us.

"Oh I will, I will. Because I know you can get stuff done. Like I said, you should run for Mayor!"

Shelton Reece is now a bit of a hero to 30 other people in wheelchairs who live in the Wesley Highland Terrace retirement home. Life will be different for them now, thanks to him.

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