Officials request dog park renaming

Sandra ClarkFeature, Fountain City

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Commissioner Michele Carringer will ask the Knox County Commission to rename a local dog park after Emma Jane Walker, the 16-year-old Central High School student who was killed in November 2016.

The request seeks to change the name from PetSafe Dog Park to PetSafe Emma Walker Memorial Dog Park. It is located inside of Tommy Schumpert Park, 6400 Fountain City Road. Local business owner Randy Boyd, who helped pay for the dog park, signed off on the change. The Knox County Commission will vote on the proposal this month.

“Emma was taken too soon and her death has left a significant mark in the community, and the outpouring of support for her family has been moving,” said Burchett in a prepared release. “Emma was a dog lover and renaming this park is a great way to honor her life and legacy. I also want to thank Randy Boyd and PetSafe for allowing us to do this.”

Carringer added: “Emma was a beautiful person and had a heart for everyone as well as all animals that she came in contact with. When meeting Emma for the first time, I immediately recognized her sweet spirit, her energetic personality and her love for life and others. She had a dream of being a pediatric nurse. To honor that dream, her family and friends worked hard to purchase a room at Children’s Hospital in her name.”

Walker was a junior at Central High School and a member of the cheerleading squad. She also served in HOSA, the BETA Club and Young Life. A jury last week found her ex-boyfriend, William Riley Gaul, guilty of first-degree murder. Gaul, who shot through Walker’s bedroom window as she slept, was given a mandatory life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole for 51 years.

If the name change is approved, officials will hold an unveiling and dedication at a later date, the release concluded.

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