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Things are ‘picking up’ at Rev. Ross Park

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By Becky Barnes

Barely a handful of Cynthiana men are wanting some changes in their neighborhood park and they are willing to put in the sweat equity to make it work.
Their hearts are in the right place.
“It’s for the kids,” said Howard, aka “Hud,” Custard, who is just one of the voices behind a plan to grow the Rev. Ross Park.
There used to be swings in the small park that runs along side the South Fork of the Licking River.
Those were removed about two or three weeks ago because of the dilapidated condition with nails sticking out and breaking or cracking boards.
Now, all that remains for the children is a basketball court.
The plan is to use the basketball court to its fullest.
Custard and a few others have organized weekend “pick-up” basketball games where children from other cities are being brought to Cynthiana for an all-day basketball event.
Hud said it’s not really a tournament. No child is turned away and there is no cost to participate.
If any money is raised it will be through the sale of concessions or donations.
Two weeks ago, a group of kids from Georgetown came to Cynthiana and then Cynthiana kids went to Georgetown.
This weekend Rev. Ross Park will be bustling with children from Cynthiana and Richmond as they take on each other in three age groups.
Unfortunately, there are no bleachers for spectators, no swings for children who are not on the court, no concession area and no  lights for the court.
There is a nice big shelter ... with only two picnic tables. There is also a fairly new walking trail that winds around the park.
The men would like not only to have the physical changes to the park, but they would also like to see an attitude shift.
It’s not a hidden fact that the Rev.  Ross Park has not always had the best image.
However, Blaine Henry said the more positive activities that are held at the park the better things will get.
“As long as we have children and activities, the image changes itself,” Blaine said. “These kids just want to have something to do.”
Hud added that Saturday events like the pickup basketball games give kids something do to as well as bolsters their pride.
“You should’ve seen their eyes,” Hud said of the Cynthiana kids whose names were introduced over a public address system in Georgetown.
They thought they had hit the big leagues when they were called to the center of the court to be introduced, he said.
“They ate that up.”
Hud said they have had some support along the way from government officials.
However, now there has arisen an issue of liability insurance.
Hud said they may be required to provide insurance at each event at over $400 a pop.
With $800 in the Rev. Ross Park till, there won’t be many activities.
Bobby Fowler, who officiates the basketball games for free, questions why a public event held at a public park and open to any child who wants to participate, where no one is making any money, should be required to provide its own insurance.
It stands to reason that if you have to come up with money for insurance, you have to charge the teams to play and that defeats the purpose.
If the event has to be a city or county sanctioned event to avoid the insurance hassall, then sanction it.
A long time ago I realized I was working harder at trying to find a reason something shouldn’t be in the newspaper than why it should. I had an epiphany one day that told me I was doing things backwards. The same applies here.
Let’s find a reason why we should be having events for kids and not why we shouldn’t.
Remember, these people are trying to change the image of the park while providing something for Cynthiana’s children to do. They don’t want to compete with the Recreation Department and any of its activities.
These games are going on when nothing is happening at River Road Park.
Saturday’s games will begin around 3 p.m. with three age groups -- elementary (7-10 years), middle school (11-14 years) and high school (15-17 years).
As a community, we need to get behind the efforts of these men -- Hud, Blaine, Bobby, Eric Reed, Leroy
“Bull” Conner and Andre Higgins. They not only need our financial support to bring some much-needed equipment to the park, they also need volunteers to help in the event that they can open a concession stand.
We should all want to support the park, which in its hey day was the location for legendary Harrison County High School basketball coach Woody Crum’s summer league.
It’s been probably 10 years or more since the Rev. Ross Park carnival was held. I remember going down to the park to take pictures of children eating snow-cones and riding a miniature roller coaster.
It would be nice to have something like that again.
It could happen.
And, as Hud so appropriately said, “It’s all about the kids.”