Jasper County officials unveil all-abilities boat ramps

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 12:43 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 5:04 PM CDT
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JASPER COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Before this summer, Josh Duncan wouldn’t have been able to fully participate in family trips to the Sam Rayburn Reservoir as his physical disability makes it difficult to navigate a dock without assistance. His father wanted to do something to change that.

Jasper County Chief Deputy Scott Duncan was a driving force behind planning and constructing improvements like safety railings and kayak launches that would allow everyone to participate.

“That was our idea, to make the lakes and parks more accessible to special needs kids and to handicapped kids and handicapped adults and elderly,” said Duncan. “So we want the park experience to be more enjoyable for them because my family uses these parks and we have to leave josh out of a lot of stuff because of the accessibility.”

Enhancements of the boat ramp docks have been made at Twin Dikes Public, Mill Creek, and San Augustine parks. Construction began in May and was finished before Juneteenth weekend. Jasper County Judge Mark Allen credits the US Army Corps of Engineers with completing the project quickly. They provided materials and equipment, while Jasper County provided volunteers to help with installation.

“They are a great partner,” said Allen. “They have been with us during major disasters. They have been with us during beautiful days like today. And that’s what it’s all about. Providing for our community, providing for our future, for our children, and also providing for our elderly to be able to have a great recreational opportunity.”

Creating more inclusive ways for people to enjoy recreation won’t stop with boat ramps. Duncan is involved in early plans to improve playgrounds in Jasper County to allow kids of all abilities to play together.

“Also we have kind of been kicking around more ideas for the park playground,” said Duncan. “So we are kicking around some ideas to make them more special needs and handicap accessible as well so they can join in with the other kids and play.”

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