Kids locked out of camp building, director concerned about future

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - David Dycus

Three years ago, social worker Angela Higginson saw a need, and an opportunity.

"It's kids whose parents are working jobs that are paying the basic minimum wage," Higginson said.

Kids who need somewhere to go, to stay out of trouble. But trouble managed to find them when they returned from a trip to get ice cream.

The building that housed their camp, a building owned by the City of Mayfield and Graves County, had been chained and padlocked.

"I came back with chains on the door. If these 35 kids were left at home alone, and a parent knowingly shut off the air and locked them out of the house, we'd have a report. So what are we going to do to the city and county government who've done the same thing?'

"No one wants those kids not to have a summer camp, absolutely not," Mayfield Mayor Teresa Cantrell said.

She said the judge executive is in charge of booking the building. They both agreed to stop allowing private parties last week.  That's why she couldn't believe the call she got from the judge a few days after that decision.

"There was some kind of event here last night. We didn't have anything on the books.  Rhey left it a mess.  There was smell of of illegal substances in the air," Cantrell said.

So they concluded a padlock was the only option, and thought Higginson and her kids were gone for the day when they locked it.

Higginson said it isn't fair.

"We're not going to do that at the hands of these kids. The kids aren't going to be the victims," Higginson said.

Cantrell said the building is in such disrepair and the a/c doesn't work properly. They may have to close it until they can get money to restore it. Right now, they've applied for a $500,000 block grant to fix the a/c, get a new roof, and re-insulate the 30-year-old structure.

A little uncertain right now. By all indications Higginson won't have to deal with a pad lock any longer, but her operating hours could change.  There is no camp this week because of the Independence Day Holiday.

The mayor wants people in Graves County to vote on a "parks and rec tax."  The tax would be added to property tax bills and would be used to maintain the county's parks and buildings, like the blue building.

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