Park improvements questioned in Bladenboro

By: W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal

BLADENBORO — On a night when the agenda was light, the town parks were brought under close scrutiny from a resident and the new Bladenboro town board.

The first order of business Monday for the board was the swearing in of re-elected and newly elected commissioners, an event that was administered by Clerk of Bladen County Superior Court Nikki Dennis.

First up was Mayor Rufus Duckworth, who won a second term on November, followed by Jeff Atkinson, who also won re-election last month; and then new board members Rodney Hester and Greg Sykes.

The board then elected Atkinson to serve for the next year as the town mayor pro tem.

Commissioner Sara Jane Benson asked the board about what was happening out at Mclean Park regarding lighting and replacement of the swing sets and repair of bleachers at Wateree Park. Her question was referred to Town Administrator John O’Daniel.

“I’ve talked with Four County (about lighting) and given them what we are looking for,” he said. “They are working on a proposal.”

He added that, now that the weather is cooler, bleachers at Wateree Park are getting repaired and the swing sets have already been replaced.

The discussion about the parks was extended when town resident Jerry White asked to address the board about Mclean Park.

“I’m not familiar with the procedures of the board, but I’d like to have a discussion about what is being done at McClean Park,” he said. “And I’d like to have some input in that discussion.”

Given the OK by Duckworth, White told the board he was concerned about how the field at McClean Park drained and with how it was designed.

“I think that if you try to put lights on the facilities you have there, you may be wasting your money,” White said. “There has never been a ball game played there — I’ve heard coaches complain the home plate is directed north where most others are facing south, and that creates a situation where the sun is often in the fielders’ eyes.”

He went on to say that the town needs to take a hard look at the field “and really study it to see if it is going to be playable and useful,”

O’Daniel told the board he is preparing a grant application through the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, and that there will be several more meetings with the public to gather information about what residents want to see in the next phase of refurbishing at McClean Park.

The board took no action, but did thank White for his input on the matter.

In other business Monday, the board:

— O’Daniel told the board that Alex Rodriquez was the new auxiliary police officer.

— Appointed Sykes to the town’s Economic Development Committee to replace outgoing Commissioner Cris Harrelson, and also Ronald West to fill another open seat on the committee.

The next meeting of the town board will be Monday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-7862-4163 or

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal