Cover your eyes, ears if you don't want to see, hear this

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The M word and the status of VMP.

By Bobby Brockman

The warning has been posted, so if you don't want to read or hear about my opinions on a couple of touchy subjects, put down the paper now or turn to another page or section.

* Not known for keeping my mouth shut on what I believe, I'll start my soapbox speech with the M word.

With last week's retirements of both local superintendents, can't we at least talk about possibly merging the schools?

I'm not saying next week, next month or even next year, but wouldn't it be academically, financially and athletically advantageous to do so?

I admit I'm very jealous of schools like John Hardin and Central Hardin and their fabulous academic and athletic facilities.

The Taylor County System has 50 or so acres which would be a great start for a new high school. The present TCHS-TCMS facility would be a great middle school campus, and you would still have three campuses (Taylor County Elementary, Campbellsville Elementary and High School and Campbellsville Middle School) for two or three elementary schools and an alternative school.

Mercer County and Harrodsburg merged a couple of years back and now are in a new high school.

Lone Oak, a 4A school, and Heath and Reidland, both 2A schools, will merge in McCracken County, and Muhlenberg North and Muhlenberg South have plans to consolidate.

Two school systems instead of one would mean only one superintendent and one school board, but most, if not all, current teachers would still be needed.

Also, as many athletes would compete. Oh, I know there would only be five starters on the basketball teams and nine on the baseball and softball squads, but more sports could/would be offered and there would also be more opportunities in academia.

With ever-increasing costs and less money coming from the state, shouldn't it at least be talked about?

It's going to happen eventually because the city system can't/won't get any bigger a tax base, so why not negotiate and hammer out any differences, and I know there will be lots, with ample time to solve the potential problems.

* The closing of Veterans Memorial Park seems to be on the horizon.

Fiscal Court wants to wipe its hands clean of the operation and like one current or former magistrate said (you figure it out): "I could care less what they do with it. They could plant in corn for all I care."

Shouldn't a park be for the residents and be a plus for the community to have and use?

Do you know of any park that makes money?

Yeah, there might be a couple in the Louisville area that also have bars or concessions that sell beer.

Kentuckiana Softball Complex on Dixie Highway charges its leasers about $18,000 a year and those tenants will not be renewing their contracts in 2009 despite making a lot of money off beer sales.

A couple of facts and/or questions.

Who would be stupid enough to operate the local park and not make any money?

You can't operate an adult league like you do youth sports with a committee. Adults pay $250+ for each team they put in a league. One can't expect them also to get the field ready and pick up the trash.

I ran the park one summer and Chris Tucker did it the year before as members of then Taylor County Judge/Executive Fred Waddle's City/County Park board, and neither of us made a dime for all the headaches we encountered.

It seems that when Veterans Memorial Park in its infant stage at Miller Park was started, it was for adults to play softball.

While the number of men's softball teams locally has basically dried up and Babe Ruth baseball also seems to be a thing of the past, it still is a great place for 20 or so Men's Church and Church Coed teams to socialize (roughly 250 to 300 men and women). And, like one player told me, "If we can help one person by letting them play here, maybe we've made a difference in their life."

The upkeep of the park has been minimal and almost miniscule over the last decade or so.

It's embarrassing to have adult tournaments (nearly 30 years of the H & W Classic and several ASA 35-and-older State Tournaments - and, yes, they bought food and stayed at our motels) out there with the poor quality of lighting. You can't just change the bulbs and mend a fence or two to keep things the way they were when it was first built in the 1970s.

Washington County/Springfield and Marion County/Lebanon have park directors for youngsters and adults, but it seems like pretty soon Taylor County/Campbellsville will not have to worry about adults' recreation.

Industries seem to be ahead of us in those communities; do we also have to take a backseat to them in adult recreation as well?

Father Bowling, Charles Richardson, Rick Wilson and Mark Pike have put decades of time and service into something the community can be proud of. Can we afford to let it go by the wayside?

* Lastly, while I'm on a kick or roll, why can't this state figure out the only way we can raise money to solve current and future deficits is by raising the cigarette tax considerably and/or having casinos within our boundaries?

It would probably make too much sense for a high cigarette tax to deter some youngsters and adults from ever picking up or continuing the habit, and Kentucky wouldn't rank first in lung cancer deaths.

It would also be too smart to have some of the money that Indiana and Mississippi make off casino gambling to remain to help our folks out in the Commonwealth.