Smooth skating at city Ice & Sports Complex

January 25, 1998

Smooth skating at city Ice & Sports Complex


Staff Writer

Fears about safety at the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex appear to be unfounded, based on the incidents police have reported since the rink opened and the playful atmosphere at the rink this weekend.

Parents, teenagers and small children who took to the ice Friday and Saturday during public skating say the ice rink is a welcome addition to Hagerstown, not the danger zone some have painted it to be.

"Where else in this town can you take your child out for $5 for two hours?" said Richard Koontz, as he watched his grandsons, Kevin, 7, and 4-year-old Keith, circle the arena.


Carolyn Koontz, mother of the two boys, said she's never seen violent tempers erupt on the ice or off. As for foul language, she hasn't heard it.

"Every time I've been here - and I've been here Friday and Saturday nights - I've never seen an argument or anything," Carolyn Koontz said.

The rink has come under fire lately, labeled as a hangout for ruffians who trash the inside and outside of the rink, fight and use abusive language.

Patrons at the rink say that's simply not true.

Tawnae Morris, 16, of Sharpsburg, said she's been coming to the rink since it opened and hasn't seen confrontations between her peers or between other age groups. In fact, Morris welcomed skating lessons from a skilled 8-year-old boy.

"It's fun and it gives you something to do in Hagerstown," Morris said Friday night.

Other teens echo her views.

"It keeps me out of trouble," said Roger Otzelberger, 16, of Dargan, who added that there's not much else to do for teens that's legal.

William M. Breichner, chairman0 of the Washington County Sports Foundation's board of directors and a Hagerstown councilman, said no one has stopped by the rink's desk or asked for the manager to complain.

As for reports of parents complaining about rowdy teenagers, Breichner said he doesn't know what their definition of rowdy is.

"I haven't seen it and our employees say they haven't seen it," he said.

The public skating on weekends draws about 1,000 people to the arena.

Among them on Saturday afternoon were Eddie Glover and his 3-year-old daughter Ashley, of Falling Waters, W.Va.

Leaning back against her father's legs for balance, Ashley - grinning and giggling - didn't want to rest.

"It's nice here," Eddie Glover said, noting it was his first time at the rink. "I can't stop her."

Kim Recher, 12, of Hagerstown, was skating Saturday with her church youth group. It was her third time at the rink and she has always enjoyed herself.

"Everyone's pretty nice," Recher said.

Despite the legion of patrons each weekend, employees keep the area fairly clean throughout the day, chasing loose straw wrappers and spilled sodas with a broom and dustpan.

"I imagine when you have 300, 400 people in here, you're going to have some trash, but that gets cleaned up very promptly," Breichner said.

"It's as clean as can be," Otzelberger said.

Although the rink doesn't employ security guards, there are skate guards on the ice to ensure rules are followed and security cameras outside to monitor the parking lot.

The Herald-Mail Articles