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Concert raises funds for Martinsburg skate park

June 23, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Ann and Tim Parker never planned to own a professional skate shop, let alone develop the lot behind it into a skate park.

It just sort of, happened, Ann Parker said.

Yet for all the "sick" merchandise out front, the shop lacks what Martinsburg skaters need most, a place to do what they love off the streets.

The couple and the members of Christian Skaters of Martinsburg started raising money in June to build a skate park behind the Parkers' 180 Skate Shop and on Sunday it hosted its first benefit concert for the project.

"We have people who have volunteered to build the ramps and our landlord is fine with the idea, but we need money to pour 6,000 square feet of concrete," Parker said, raising her voice over the metal music that filled the shop.

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After years of watching their son and his friends turn to the streets to skate, Parker and her husband felt it was time to give the skateboarders a safe, drug-free place for their "sessions."

"We have a passion for skaters," said Parker, who started selling skateboarding merchandise on eBay to raise money to send her son, Christopher, to Europe. "Skaters too often get a bad rap, but these are good kids who just want to skate."

The Parkers founded the Martinsburg Chapter of Christian Skaters not long after opening the shop along Hack Wilson Way and since that time have been seeking ways to reach skaters with a positive message.

Standing on the broken concrete and weeds behind the shop, Durrell Togans, 17, said it would be nice to skateboard where he does not need to worry about being caught by the police.

"We need a dedicated, nonpaying (admission-free) skate park," he said. "I have seen too many people arrested for skating where they're not to."

Parker said the concert has put them about halfway to their goal of raising $2,000 of the $6,000 total project cost by the end of July.

Anyone who wants to donate to the project can do so by contacting the Parkers through their Web site, www.180skateshop.com.

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