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City may reign in youth on the loose

The focus is on violations of the city's no-skating ordinance

ROGUE RIVER ' The city is considering an ordinance that would levy fines of up to &

36;1,000 for parents who fail to properly supervise their underage children.

The draft ordinance would charge first-time offenders a fine of no more than &

36;100. But it also would set restitution to victims for as much as &

36;2,500, said City Recorder and Municipal Court Clerk Carol Weir.

It's now in the (city) attorney's hands for review, said Weir.

City Councilman George Jorgensen proposed the ordinance at an Oct. 4 City Council workshop mostly because of skateboarders violating non-skating laws and damaging property, he said at the meeting.

— The city also has had problems with vandalism at schools, parks, businesses and the library, city and school officials say. But the focus is clearly on skateboarders.

Vince Bologna, 46, owner of Vinney's Skate Shop in Rogue River, says the ordinance is overkill.

The law already holds the parents responsible, says Bologna. They can take the parents to court.

Bologna says he encourages the skaters who frequent his downtown shop to respect the city's no-skating ordinance.

When I see them skating up to my shop, I tell them to get off their boards, said Bologna.

A half-dozen skaters were cited and pleaded guilty at this month's municipal court, said Weir. Included in the six was the 22-year-old son of Bologna.

He pled guilty and paid his &

36;25 fine, said Weir.

Because of insurance liability issues, skaters are not allowed to skate on school property. But, in the after-school hours, they have used picnic tables, trash cans and other playground equipment in their attempts to create impromptu obstacles, damaging them in the process, said Rogue River Elementary Principal Michelle Wolfe.

This situation with the skateboarders is a mess, said Wolfe.

In addition to the damage done to school property, some skaters often leave a disgusting residue in their wake, said Middle School Principal KathiSue Summers.

I have picked up whole unopened cans of beer, cigarette butts, used condoms and human feces, said Summers. I have them on tape. A lot of them are skateboarders.

Wolfe and Summers support the city's attempts to get parents parenting ' even if it means fines.

I think they've got a good plan in place, says Wolfe. This affects the whole community, not just the schools.

School officials stress not all skaters are causing trouble and not all trouble is caused by skaters.

Most of my middle school skateboarders are not my problem kids, said Summers.

The principals would like to see the community rally to help the skaters find a safe place to skate.

As the community rallied for the (volunteer funded and built) track at the high school and the playground at the elementary school, we could have a great facility for the kids, said Wolfe.

Bologna said he was not personally or professionally involved in any efforts to create a skate park. The city should do it, he said.

I'm the only thing going for them in this town, he said. And I'm not going anywhere. The kids need somewhere they can go without being harassed.

Rogue River resident and Curves fitness club manager Mae Miles says skateboarders have crashed into the Curves building, skated into patrons and damaged parked cars.

Miles' 10-year-old son loves to skate, she says. But Miles supports the city's non-skating ordinance ' and fiscal consequences for parents who don't supervise their kids.

My son has a brand new skateboard. But he's not allowed to come anywhere near here, says Miles. Every day you see kids at all hours and they're unattended. I think it's kind of pathetic parents don't know where their kids are and don't seem to care.

The ordinance will be reviewed at the City Council workshop at 10 a.m. Thursday.

City may reign in youth on the loose"sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Vinney?s Skate Shop in Rogue River has found itself at the center of a skateboarding controversy, but owner Vince Bologna says he is trying to alleviate the situation by reining in skateboarders outside his store. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli