Soggy conditions and vandalism slow projects

Mike DonilaOur Town Outdoors

More good news for the folks in the East Knox County area.

Already, two companies – Progression Electric and Irby Electric – agreed to donate the time, supplies and labor to replace and repair almost $30,000 worth of theft and vandalism that occurred at Gibbs Ruritan Park late last year after some scumbag ripped out and stole the wiring throughout the ballparks. But now, Dick’s Sporting Goods also is putting up a $10,000 grant. This money will go toward replacing the wiring at East Knox Park. We believe the same dirtbag who stole the wiring from Gibbs also hit up East Knox.

The Knox County Commission is expected on Monday to officially sign off on the donations. The commission also is expected to approve a $250,000 grant from the Boyd Foundation to help build new dog parks throughout the county. Once approved, we’ll have two years to complete the parks. I talked to our crews and that shouldn’t be a problem.

Earlier this week, we had crews at Lonsdale Elementary School, moving the old playground to make room for the new school. A lot of the playground equipment had to be tossed but we were able to salvage some pieces and use them as replacements parts (for example, platforms) for French and New Harvest parks.

Vandalism at New Harvest Park

Speaking of New Harvest Park … teenage vandals struck there late last week, kicking in the fence and tearing up the electrical system. We don’t think the actions are related to the theft at East Knox and Gibbs parks. Our staff made the repairs. It cost about $500.

On a side note, we had to shut down some of our dog parks this week due to flooding. Plumb Creek was particularly bad.

Also, I keep forgetting to mention this, but our Engineering and Public Works Department recycled 21.5 tons of Christmas trees this year. That averages out to be 1,438 trees recycled. We recycled slightly more last year at 1,566 trees.

I reached out to Brad Warren, E&PW chief operations engineer, for this weekly report and he noted: “It’s been a slow week for completed projects given the wet conditions. We have several guardrail repairs in the hopper, but nothing completed yet. All work has been either routine maintenance or preparing for snow events (i.e.; outfitting trucks with plows, brine tanks, etc.).”

Flooding at Plum Creek dog park

I’d like to add that I keep in touch with Jim Snowden, the department’s senior director, whenever the weather gets cold and those folks are on the ball. At roughly 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, he texted to let me know that the department had finished putting 28,000 gallons of brine down on the county roads in preparation for the cold and ice.

That’s dedication!

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government.

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