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SPLOST skaters: Enthusiasts enjoy ramp demo

For those who love the sport of skateboarding, Sweetwater Park near Thomson was just the place to be last Sunday afternoon.

There, a portable skate park, equipped with three large-sized ramps, was set up by representatives of the American Ramp Company as part of their 2008 ARC Demo Tour across America.

It also provided local elected officials in Thomson and McDuffie County an opportunity to see what a portion of a skate park might look like and the type of interest generated by skateboarding enthusiasts.

"I think the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves," said Bob Howard, director of the Thomson-McDuffie Recreation and Leisure Services. "I really think it would be a good thing if they had a skate park, because all kids aren't ball-oriented. This is just another avenue by which we can provide recreational activities for these kids."

As much as $300,000 has been earmarked to purchase a skate park by elected officials in Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County, provided voters approve a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax package on Tuesday, Sept. 16, during a special referendum.

Eagle Hilton, 4, was one of the youngest participants during the two-hour demonstration.

"He really enjoys skateboarding," said his mother, Meryem Hilton, of Thomson. "He can do some really cool tricks. He likes trying to keep up with his older brother, Patrick."

Maurice Murphy, 14, a sophomore at Thomson High School, was another local teenager who came out and demonstrated tricks on his skateboard.

"I'd love it if we had a skate park in Thomson," said Murphy. "It's kind of boring trying to skateboard in your yard or in your driveway."

Jordan Ramos, 16, a junior at Thomson High, agreed.

"I would love it if we had a skate park here at Sweetwater, because I live right down the road," said Ramos. "I'd be up here all the time skateboarding and just having fun."

Chip Taylor, a sales representative with American Ramp Company, said he was impressed by the turnout of teenagers and youngsters who came out for the demo last weekend.

"We had a great turnout," said Taylor of the estimated 60 teens and youngsters who participated. "You can tell these kids would really like to have a skate park."

Taylor said his company sold and set up 150 skate parks across the country last year and are planning to sale and set up 200 more skate parks this year.

Unlike the portable version which was set up for the demonstration, Howard said the proposed skate park in McDuffie County would be a non-portable version.

"We'd have it set up in a designated area and landscape around it, so it would look real nice," said Howard.

At this time, local officials still don't know where it would be located - whether at Sweetwater Park, the Pitt Street Park or possibly some other site.

Several officials came out to view the skate park demonstration, including McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton, County Manger Don Norton, Commissioner-elect Paul McCorkle, Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry, City Administrator Don Powers and Councilman Jaye Jones.

Web posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008

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