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Park gives skaters a place to play

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Saturday in Pitts Street Park to dedicate the recently completed skate park.

"This is something that has been in the works for years," said Mayor Kenneth Usry, who was on hand for the ceremony. "We had a lot of requests for it over the years, and we were able to include it in the sales tax vote that occurred almost three years ago."

He said a similar facility in Dearing also was completed about 90 days ago.

"It gives the kids a place to go to skate, without them having to skate downtown in the business area," Usry said of the Thomson skate park. "It's another improvement to the Pitts Street park which we've been improving over the years."

Numerous skaters were on hand for the ceremony and were already using the skate park, and drawing comparisons between it and the Dearing skate park.

"It's a nice skate park," said Matt Hooker, 14, who was busy doing a variety of tricks. "It's good for all skaters. I actually kind of like the one in Dearing better, but this one is good, too. It has different features than the one in Dearing."

The differences between the two parks were something the skaters seemed to appreciate.

"If you go to both parks, you get to work on a variety of tricks, which helps you learn to do more," said Dalton Taylor, 19.

Having a place where they are welcome to skate was important to the skaters present.

"It's a good way to stop people from complaining about where you skate at, 'cause you have a place right here in town to come skate without bothering anybody, and it's fun for everyone," said Austin Haney, 16.

McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton was also on hand for the dedication. "We've talked for a lot of years about the need for a skating facility in the community, and, luckily, the voters were good enough to pass SPLOST so we could go ahead and do it," Newton said. "We've got a lot of young people that skate, and we've seen them all over downtown, and now they can come here to skate. This is another recreational avenue for kids, to give them something positive to do."

The dedication ceremony featured a ribbon-cutting, musical entertainment by TMT Productions, free food and soft drinks, and free drawings for skateboards and skateboarding related items for the young people present.

The skate park is the most recent improvement to the Pitts Street park, which was Thomson's first major park.

"We want to increase the utilization of this park, not only because we own it and it needs to be used, but also because, if you have the activity here, it will help bring the neighborhood surrounding it up," Newton said.

"We also plan to add another basketball court and do some additional sprucing up of the park itself, and hopefully that will encourage more people to come and use the park."

But the focus for the day seemed to be to provide a convenient and safe environment for Thomson's young people to enjoy and have fun.

"If you don't give kids something positive to do, then a lot of times they turn to the negative, and hopefully this will keep them from going down that path," Newton concluded.

Web posted on Thursday, June 09, 2011

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