The three Knox County Parks and Recreation-operated splash pads are officially closed for the season, and we should begin rehabbing them shortly. As you might recall from last week’s column, the county is going to put up $500,000 for the first of two phases to update them.
This past summer – can you believe Wednesday was the first day of fall???? – we had to shut them down quite a bit for repairs. A big shout out to Brad Hurst for skydiving in and fixing them when needed!
So, much of this week has been spent “chasing vandalism,” as Jason Halliburton, the department’s supervisor of maintenance, often says.
Seriously, there’s some stupid TikTok challenge going on called “devious licks,” and all the stupid people are participating. Essentially, they vandalize bathrooms and put it on TikTok. For their sake, I hope they don’t get caught. There’s some pretty upset team members right now.
“Broken toilets at Clayton Park, a sink was torn off the wall at Ball Camp Park – graffiti on the picnic tables at Sterchi Park – that’s what we’ve had going on this week,” Halliburton said. “Not only do they tear off the stuff inside, but they also tear off the gutters, break lights. It’s ridiculous.”
The commercial sinks and toilets can each cost hundreds of dollars and this string of destruction has been going on since at least May. Halliburton said each of the bathrooms, so far, have been vandalized three or four times.
We had one incident where a knucklehead actually got cut while – we think – breaking a sink. She was apparently taken to the hospital. I have a smart comment I want to make, but this is a family website, so I’ll be polite!
In other news, our one-man machine Frank Christian was at it again this week, although he did have some help. Frank teamed up with Richard Oglesby and Wendell Kirkland to finish the mowing and trimming along the Melton Hill and Alcoaway park trails throughout the woods; mowing and trimming John Tarleton Park and cleaning up a tree that fell at the back gate area of the office area.
Frank also ordered eight new signs for various parks (he’ll have them up soon!), replaced a crosswalk sign at Tommy Schumpert Park (a car ran right over it!) and hauled off a dump truck load of brush. By the way, this is when I talked to him early Wednesday morning. I’m sure he’s done a ton more. I know late Friday he closed out the week by cutting kudzu off a number of light poles.
And speaking of Frank, the department has started a “Team Member in the Spotlight” feature that we post on the main website here and on our Facebook page. We highlighted Frank Christian. Knox TN Today also had a great piece about him (see story here). Check it out if you haven’t already. Frank is a great guy and the story had a great ending. This sums up his attitude: “People pay taxes to pay people to take care of county property,” Christian said. “They expect the lights to work, they expect the trash to be picked up, they expect things to be clean and to work. It would be nice if people would stop vandalizing and trashing our parks. But, I like making stuff better, contributing. If you like your job, it’s not a burden to come to it.”
On the recreation side youth league football continues, baseball/softball playoffs will begin early next month, soccer continues to roll onward, and basketball sign ups have begun. Adult softball continues as does soccer on Sundays and Wednesdays.
New for Parks and Recreation are community events … sunset yoga will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29, on field 4 at John Tarleton Park.
Enjoy this photo carousel of work around the county this past week:
Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government. Check back Tuesday for news from Engineering and Public Works.