Darren Doyle, story and photos:
A local non-profit basketball league took matters into their own hands after learning of the condition of the basketball courts at Chalybeate Sports Complex, which is part of Edmonson County Parks and Recreation. With their action and their relationship with another volunteer group called Bridge Kentucky, the park received four, brand-new basketball backboards, rims, and nets, along with a complete cleaning and restoration of the courts.
The "EC3" League, a non-profit 3-on-3 basketball league founded by local residents Caleb Skaggs and Peyton Talley, both of Chalybeate, and other league board members had shared ideas about being able to do something positive through the COVID pandemic, which caused their season this year to be cancelled.
"We knew the courts at the park were getting in bad shape but the next day, we saw an Edmonson Voice article about how the backboards had been broken and they were unusable," said board member Melinda Campbell. "We knew at that point we had to do something."
Bridge Kentucky was then contacted by Mrs. Campbell, who had worked with them before, and after donations to EC3 from local businesses, Campbell said the ball got bouncing on how to make some improvements at Chalybeate Park. While the Edmonson County Parks and Rec Office works tirelessly to keep up facilities and maintain the parks, vandalism commonly happens faster and more rampant than park workers can fight, and unfortunately, what their budget will allow.
"Edmonson County is full of those that are always looking to help others," said Campbell. "We have a lot of great people who want the same opportunities for all kids here and all communities here, and it seems like this project was pieced together by accident, but by people who had the same goal of helping the community."
Matt Boston, Director of Bridge Kentucky, which is based in Barren County, said the organization has reached a "goal" of beginning their expansion into other counties in the BRADD area.
"Our main target is at-risk families, foster kids, and troubled areas, but our goal is help provide ways so that everyone has the same opportunities to grow; whether that's financially, mentally, physically, or whatever the need is to reach their potentials. We got in touch with Melinda and shared our ideas, she liked it, and ever since then, it's been go-go-go, and that's exactly what we want because a lot of people need help right now."
Boston said the virus pandemic has taken a toll on so many in Barren County and the surrounding area.
"If we can make a difference in Barren County, why not Edmonson, too?" he said. "Our goal is to 'bridge' that gap wherever we can. What better way to do that other than a park? Everyone can come here, enjoy it, spend time, hang out, and the best part is, it doesn't cost any money to come to the park."
Caleb Skaggs said he hoped this wasn't the last collaboration with Bridge Kentucky.
"We spend a lot of time at the park and noticed it wasn't in good shape," he said. "We got in touch with (park director) A.B. (Webb) about fixing everything and he jumped in with us. This is just the start of what EC3 wants to do in Edmonson County."
Director of Parks and Rec A.B. Webb said the county was only out some labor and some standard hardware to replace the backboards, which are painted steel backboards and rims. The backboards were painted by local shop owner Richie Jones of Jones Custom Creations.
The old plexi-glass boards were thrown away and volunteers from EC3, Bridge Kentucky, and local youths assembled the new backboards and installed them on Monday, August 24th along with Parks and Rec personnel.
Both Webb and Parks Program Director John Kiernan helped with the install yesterday and both expressed their gratitude of the help the county received from the volunteers.
Like most everything else in Edmonson County, the park system has a very limited budget and must often rely on grants, volunteers, and other projects when it comes to large expenditures. One volunteer said the next step for the park was coordinating a video camera system that will hopefully deter vandalism.
You can volunteer for Bridge Kentucky or apply for assistance through them by visiting their Facebook Page. You can also become part of EC3 via their Facebook Page as well.