By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
EAST PALESTINE -- John Minerd is a happy man.
His Psycho Skates & amp; Cycles at 55 N. Market St. here opened April 6 to rave reviews.
His plans for a skateboard and bicycle complex at the city park are generating even more excitement.
"There were about 30 kids here yesterday after school watching us move dirt around," he said as excavators created mounds of dirt for the bicycle course. "They said they just want to bring their tents over here and camp out all summer."
Minerd plans for the skate and bike complex to be open by Memorial Day weekend, if not sooner.
"I think all of this will help put the city on the map," Minerd said.
Generosity: Donations of materials and labor such as that by local excavator Tim Evans of T. Evans Excavating made the complex at the city park possible, Minerd said. City employees have also helped by moving dirt for use on the bicycle course.
"Tim pulled some of his guys off some pretty big jobs to come here," he said. "When he said he wanted to do this, I couldn't believe it. It gave me goosebumps."
Minerd, 30, is a semi-professional skateboarder. He grew up in East Palestine and began skateboarding at 15.
After high school, Minerd spent time traveling to competitions, and was often an opening performer for professional skateboarders.
An escape for kids: He said the skate and bike complex just inside the entrance to the city park will be known as "Extreme Escape."
"I believe this will truly be an escape for the kids in this area," he said. "I wanted to contribute to this community. I especially wanted to give something to the kids.
"Coming here will give them an outlet for all that energy," he said. "When they get done on this bike course, they will be tired. They'll probably have to rest awhile. If they're here, then they're not downtown, in the streets, where they could get hurt or into trouble."
Minerd said he plans to have competitions at the skate and bicycle complex. Participants will pay an entry fee that will provide both prize money to winners and cash to maintain the complex.
What's planned: The skate area will include a 50-foot by 70-foot concrete slab with wooden ramps and other obstacles for skateboarders, inline skaters and scooter riders.
Using terms known to skateboarders, but probably unknown to other folks, Minerd said the skate area will include "a double mini, quarter pipes and an oversized fun box." He said there may also be some concrete areas for skaters.
He said the dirt-covered bicycle course will be about 70 feet by 80 feet, starting at the top of a 12-foot hill that will save riders a lot of pedaling. It will also include two steeply banking dirt walls with the challenge of avoiding a creek on one side.
Minerd said he also plans to use the spacious parking lot behind his store for demonstrations and will offer classes in skateboarding and bicycling. He will use his connections to bring professional skateboarders to town for exhibitions and autograph signings.