Bucksport resident "unofficially" keeping sidewalks safe

BUCKSPORT, Maine (WABI) - Valerie Sulya walks the streets of downtown Bucksport on a mission after each snowstorm.

A safety mission.

"I'm a community person. I wanted to do this."

Many of the merchants up and down Main Street know exactly what she's looking for and prepare for her arrival by clearing their storefront of leftover snow and ice.

"She covers the town," says Karl Austin, a building owner in Bucksport.

At 80-years-young, Valerie wears many hats in town. For 12 years now, she has been the "unofficial sidewalk supervisor." With her orange vest on and note pad in hand, she takes note on who is doing their part to keep people safe.

"When we started, there was a real purpose and it was necessary. And, I am the town local health officer and I felt the need and also I am a nurse, and I knew if we could prevent somebody from getting hurt, just one person," she says.

"Once this started, people that didn't ever, ever do their sidewalks started, so it works. It worked. And it's continuing to work," says
Andy Lacher, owner of Bookstacks.

"I think they appreciate Valerie's attention, they really do," says Austin.

As an added incentive, each year Val hands out the coveted Golden Shovel Award currently held by the community action group, Heart and Soul.

"We were very, very thrilled last year to receive that. I have to say we did do a very good job last year of keeping our sidewalks clear even though we're on the shady side of the street, which is a joke with Andy across the street at the bookstore who has the sun to help him," says 'Nancy Minott of Bucksport Heart and Soul.

Andy Lacher/owner, Bookstacks
"They have a tough row to ho, I will give them that. There's some good competition this year. I like to think I'm going to get it back."

Although she may be the unofficial sidewalk supervisor, there's no doubt the level of Valerie's commitment to keeping her neighbors safe is officially awesome.