MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (WCMH) — Downtown Mount Vernon is where Better Call 4 first met Sadie McFarland in July of 2021. McFarland, a legally blind college sophomore, called us to call on the city to install audio signals at crosswalks to help prevent tragedies for pedestrians like her.

“After you guys ran your story, I reached out to some individuals who were visually impaired in the area, and I did some interviews, emailing back and forth, some phone calls, and it was important to me to hear from them, exactly what they were dealing with,” said Mount Vernon City Councilwoman Amber Keener, who saw that story more than two years ago. “I was brand new to council, and I really felt that government was only as slow as the person kicking it. And so, I really jumped on it and I created legislation.”

Keener wrote that legislation in September 2021, stating new, audible crosswalk signals would be put in place, if a previously existing signal is damaged, or if an intersection is upgraded or replaced. This, Keener said, allows the city to be conservative and careful with taxpayer dollars.

In June of 2022, that ordinance passed.

“And that’s what’s so exciting, is that it’s just now in the city legislation, that we are going to be helpful in this way,” Keener said.

A little more than a year after that, Better Call 4 caught up with Keener in Mount Vernon, to see the legislation in action. The signal on State Route 229 near Rogers and Liberty streets was just replaced with an audible signal after a summer storm damaged the original structure.

“There’s a sensor that if you go anywhere near it, it will tell you if the light is red and if it’s safe for you to cross,” Keener said.

It’s one of three — and counting — now in place across the city.

“I think that having these on our busiest streets is really important,” Keener said.

And even though a visual impairment sparked the change, Keener said the signals will be beneficial for every pedestrian in the area.

“We have a lot more coming, and I’m just really excited about where we go from here,” Keener said, adding that there are plans in place to put a new signal near an elementary school within the next year. That cost will be covered through grants.