School calls off picnic at park

A Seymour elementary school canceled a planned picnic in a local park for students this week out of concerns for safety.

Emerson Principal Julie Kelly said Thursday she made the decision not to allow young students to walk to Shields Park to celebrate the end of the school year. Instead, the kids had a picnic and played on the school’s playground.

“I just didn’t have a good feeling about it,” Kelly said. “Public parks just aren’t what they used to be.”

A grandparent of an Emerson student posted on Facebook that her grandchild’s trip was canceled Thursday because used needles were found in the park.

“After 30 minutes of an officer walking around the park, the field trip was canceled because the officer found 27 needles lying around in 30 minutes,” the grandparent posted. “God, help this world and keep the children safe.”

Police Chief Bill Abbott said he had no such report of an officer finding needles recently at Shields or any other park in the city.

“The schools made the decision on their own to cancel because of the public fear right now in this area of needles being found,” he said.

Kelly said she had no knowledge of needles being found at Shields and said she was just concerned with having so many children in an “uncontained” area.

“It had nothing to do with needles,” Kelly said.

Parks director Brent Jameson said city workers clean the parks every morning, and if they find a needle or something suspicious, they call the police to have them pick it up.

He added that they might find a needle every other month or so, but rarely at Shields Park.

“It’s not increased,” he said of the number of needles being found.

People can enjoy the parks and still be observant of their surroundings, Abbott added. Anyone finding needles should not touch them and should call the police.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.