City official urges residents to ‘be vigilant’ when their children are playing in parks and other public areas

BUCKHANNON – City officials are urging residents to be watchful when their children are playing in parks and other public areas.

At Thursday’s Buckhannon City Council meeting, public works director Jerry Arnold asked residents to be vigilant after city information coordinator and grant writer Callie Cronin Sams and her young daughter encountered a used syringe in a wooded area of Buckhannon City Park last Sunday.

This isn’t the first time potentially dangerous items have been discovered in City Park; in July, the city abruptly shut down all parks after a suspicious device – later determined to be a non-live World War II-era grenade – was discovered in the City Park on July 11.

Arnold said residents shouldn’t assume parks are safe just because they’re located in Buckhannon.

“Last Sunday evening, I was at home and Callie sent an email to myself and (Buckhannon Police Chief) Matt Gregory about her and [her daughter] playing in the wooded area of the City Park, and they came upon a used hypodermic needle laying there,” Arnold told council Thursday. “So Monday morning, we did a sweep of the park, and we actually found two used syringes, and the reason I bring this up is not to point fingers at anything, but to simply say, as a parent, do not assume any area’s ever safe, no matter how good we are as a city.”

“Whether it’s the playground or the park, be very vigilant about inspecting areas before you let your kids play,” he added. “That could have been very tragic, and I don’t want to see anybody get hurt. We’ve become complacent as a society sometimes about certain areas, thinking it’s OK to let our kids just go, but I can’t stress enough, please be vigilant in inspecting those areas.”

Following Arnold’s comments, Mayor David McCauley proposed investing in additional security cameras.

“Is this yet another opportunity for us to rethink the installation of security cameras with signage?” McCauley asked Arnold. “We’re never going to deter completely certain activities, but I think people would think twice about some of the things they do in our parks if we [installed] more security cameras.”

“That parks is covered pretty well, except for the wooded area,” Arnold replied, “and it’s very difficult to keep a natural area [intact] and surveil it as well, especially in every corner with the trees, so that would be kind of complex, I think.”

“My message would be, please be aware of where you’re letting your kids play and inspect the area before you let your kids play,” he added.

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