This week I'm writing my column in support of youngsters and teenagers throughout McDuffie County.
I remember growing up in Thomson and complaining about there being nothing to do. Such was true unless you were an athlete and played various sports offered either at the public schools or through the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services.
And believe it or not, much the same still holds true for the older children of our city today. Little has changed.
In recent years, we have heard about such possibilities as a skating rink, a bowling alley or an arcade being built in Thomson, but those ideas have yet to become a reality. I understand that going out on such a business venture might be somewhat dangerous and could fail.
Still, I understand the importance of providing a place where youngsters who desire other fun activities can go and that it be made as safe as possible for them. Such a place is a skateboard park.
Skateboarding has become an ever popular sport in our community and if such wasn't true, then local government officials would not be considering building a skateboarding park to the tune of $300,000. That's right " a $300,000 skateboarding park!
Already city leaders in both Thomson and Dearing have given their approval for that sort of project through a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, tentatively slated for approval by voters later this year in McDuffie County. But the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners has yet to adopt the proposed funding projects. During their next meeting, they are expected to either approve of the current figures or opt for different ones.
Commissioner Fred Favors believes the idea of funding a skateboard park should be addressed before the year 2012. Currently, that's when the matter would get funded, provided voters approve of a new proposed SPLOST.
In my opinion, Rev. Favors is right on with his belief. The kids need such a park now, not four years down the road.
A skateboard accident at the Thomson Depot recently led to $700 worth of damages " the repairs made by city tax dollars " not by the person responsible.
So, now, city officials and police have made it perfectly clear that those who skateboard on city owned property face the possibility of prosecution. Signs prohibiting such activity also have been posted. Even some churches and schools have signs that prohibit the sport, too, on their property.
City officials and others are absolutely correct. No one should be allowed to destroy property. That's just plain wrong!
Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway says skateboarding is prohibited on sidewalks, streets and city-owned parking lots.
Skateboarders should take heed. Don't get into trouble. Instead, be patient a while longer. Give local government officials a chance to find a solution.