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Victim's mother worried park not safe for teens

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Glenda Bell's son was robbed at gun point earlier this month. Fortunately, neither he nor his two companions were hurt.
The incident occurred in Tom Byrne Park on Jan. 4. The three were talking when two teenagers emerged from azalea bushes and robbed them.
Bell took her concerns about the safety of the park to the Atmore City Council Monday night.
Bell said the safety of the city's teenagers should be a concern of every parent and grandparent.
Atmore Police Chief Danny McKinley said teenagers and young people have been run out of businesses' parking lots because some of them were trashing the lots.
The park is a public place and teens have been told to go there to talk.
Councilman John Watkins said all parks have dark areas that need to be corrected. He suggested the mayor and council go as a body to the parks and determine the needs at each one.
Of concern also is the increased activity in the parks due to the new walking trails.
In the past, the city had part-time officers on duty in the parks. They worked four hours a night, five nights a week. Their nights on duty included weekend nights. The officer at Houston Avery Park retired in December, and Tom Byrne Park has been without an officer since 1996.
Judith Adams added that she would feel better knowing the kids were at the park "somewhat supervised."
Randall Adams suggested that someone hired to be in the park be given the authority to fine people who violate the law.
Adams and Bell were very complimentary of the police department.
Mayor Rodney Owens said the council will discuss the park situation in an upcoming workshop.
Gates to the city parks are locked at 11 p.m. and unlocked at 5 a.m. daily.