Park Gets Re-Named For Gaston College Student

CHERRYVILLE, N.C.,None — The room was packed Monday night as members of the Cherryville City Council voted unanimously to name the city's skate park in memory of Andy Hovis.

The 20-year-old Hovis, who was an avid skate boarder and frequent visitor of the park, died in a car wreck while driving to class at Gaston College in November.

"He always wanted to skateboard," said Andy's father, Mark.

Andy's sister, Amber, and a family friend came up with the idea to name the park after Andy when they were at a vigil to commemorate his birthday in March. They enlisted friends and family and began to collect signatures to petition the city to re-name the park.

All total, they collected 3,700 signatures in support of their effort. The majority of signatures came from Cherryville residents.

Cherryville Mayor Bob Austell said there were "no ifs, ands, or buts" about whether or not the community supported the petition. More Cherryville residents signed it, he said, than vote.

"The petition they took up was just amazing," said Councilman Rick Campbell.

Austell said the council was also swayed by how instrumental Hovis had been in the creation of the skate park.

He said Hovis would attend committee meetings about the skate park when he was 14, and took part in the building process.

"He was there for every screw and nail put in that place," Austell said.

Even when the park was built, Andy worked to constantly improve it, his father said. He spent a lot of time cleaning up the park and encouraging other skaters to do the same.

Austell said he has received phone calls from parents of regulars at the skate park about what a good role model Andy was for their children.

Andy was active in other aspects of the community as well. He was an Eagle Scout. For his scout project he collected and distributed more than 300 fans to Cherryville seniors.

The park, on Church Street near Mountain Street, does not currently have a name. Austell said they will host a ceremony sometime in the future to officially name it the Andy Hovis Community Skate Park.

Both Mark Hovis and Austell said they were pleased that youth in the community learned how to petition the government to get something changed.

"They learned the right way of doing it," Hovis said.