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Thrash not trash

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By Nathan L. McBroom

After a week of being under lock-and-key, the Shelby County Skate Park has been reopened to the public.

The park was closed last Tuesday after a portable toilet at the facility was burned and destroyed.

Park officials decided to close the park until they found out who was responsible for the damage.

At a meeting on Monday night, 30 people parents and skaters came to the park to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

Clay Cottongim, director of Shelbyville/Shelby County Parks and Recreation, said they know who set the toilet of fire and are working with the proper authorities to resolve the matter.

He said the vandal is a skateboarder and is a minor. It is not for certain if any arrests have been made at this time.

Along with discussing that issue, Cottongim also addressed the crowd concerning other cosmetic issues at the park.

Cottongim said while there is no graffiti on walls at the park, there is some on picnic tables.

He said some of the subject matter of the graffiti was not suitable for young children.

Cottongim also condemned incidences of fighting and drug trafficking that have been reported at the park.

He said the park will be installing cameras to cut down on such problems.

"Violators will be prosecuted," he said.

Cottongim said the problems at the park are really only with "just a few bad apples" and not the majority of the skaters at the park.

He said the majority of skaters who enjoy the park should be committed to preserving the park.

"We would like to get the good apples to patrol and watch the park," he said. "And if they see something that isn't the way it should be, we would like them to report it."

Cottongim said older skaters should help break up skirmishes between younger skaters and help keep the park clean.

"They should take care of the park just as they would take care of their own skateboard," he said. "The park is there for their enjoyment."

Park rangers and the Shelbyville Police department regularly patrol the area.

Cottongim said some of the parents at the meeting are planning to create a volunteer network to help support the park.

After the meeting, the gate was opened and the skaters enjoyed the park once again.

Before they left, the skaters and the parents picked up the trash around the park.

"It looked really good when we left," Cottongim said.

The park hopes to buy another portable toilet this week.