It’s been a heavy week in Scottsboro, the place I’ve called my second home for the past nine, almost 10, years. It was one thing to learn last Sunday that NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant and his daughter had been killed and to watch the thousands of fans show support and mourn for his death, but it was another thing to wake up early Monday morning and learn about a local tragedy in Scottsboro.
The tragic fire at the Jackson County park boat dock not only took the lives of eight people — five of whom were children — but it was met with nationwide attention all throughout the week. To read the stories of survivors and onlookers who lived at the park, to learn about the people that lost their lives, to realize that the very people who were conducting all of the rescue efforts were people that I am on a first name basis with — it’s tragic. Horrible, really.
When I first moved to Scottsboro back in 2010, the first place I visited with my beagle Linus was the Jackson County Park. It sits on a nice, secluded area of the water, complete with plenty of boat docks, piers, opportunities to fish on the bank, swings to sit in and gaze on the water, picnic tables to enjoy lunch with your family. I remember getting out of the car, the beagle leading the way, and telling Linus, “Well, I guess this is our new home.”
Many times I’ve walked along Boat Dock A — the dock right in front of where that tragedy took place. I’ve fished on the bank of the water with friends. Leonardo has chased ducks there. One of the first places I took the Wizard was to the park so he could feed the ducks and look for fish. In fact one of the first news stories I covered as a newly hired reporter in Jackson County was that of things going on with the park board at the time. What a long journey it has been and strangely in the background was always that area — people living their lives on houseboats in the county park.
I commend rescue workers that put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Firemen, police officers, volunteer rescue workers, emergency management, volunteer rescue squads — you never know how much you need them until the time comes and no matter what they are there to assist. This week has taken a large toll on our Scottsboro community. If you are a praying person, pray for the families, the people involved in the rescue and those who are just trying to make sense of everything.
There is a sliver of the Jackson County Park that can be seen from one roadway in Scottsboro. If you know the area and know what you are looking at you will know that the docks you are seeing are those at County Park. Wednesday when I traveled that path my view was nothing but distant charred piece of the waterway, a tall crane sticking out over the water helping to remove debris. I think it hit home even more then.
The park is closed for now but one day it will open back up. It will be a little more somber than it was before. Memories of that fire will remain. But as a community, Scottsboro will heal.
When it does open up, take a day trip up to the town. Do a little shopping. Take a little break at the park and soak in the view of the water. But most importantly, support one of our favorite eateries — KC’s BBQ. It’s located in Jackson County Park, on the water right in front of both Dock A and what was Dock B. KC’s opened Monday night during the rescue efforts for first responders and then the restaurant made sure to feed all of the displaced individuals at the dock and all of the rescue groups that were part of the effort — even though the restaurant itself is closed until cleanup is complete. And, not only did KC’s take care of our community, but the local McDonalds, 50 Taters BBQ and also Jefferson’s BBQ as well as others made sure families and responders were fed. Churches opened their doors for prayer. People made sure those displaced were set up at local hotels. Why? Because that is what community does.