Newberry Man Plans Splash Park, In Lieu Of Serving 10-year Federal Sentence
NEWBERRY - It's a gain for the community. The city of Newberry is getting a splash park but you wouldn't guess who's behind the project. A local man charged with intent to distribute cocaine after he provided undercover agents with a map pinpointing to the buried "treasure," is building it; in lieu of a federal sentence.
A contractor from Newberry who was facing a 10-year mandatory sentence is the man who will be creating a splash park right here at Triangle Park.
What happened in the summer of 2012, may sound like something out of the crime series Breaking Bad. 56-year-old Rodney Hyden is a general contractor from Newberry. An associate of Hyden discovered a large quantity of cocaine in the beaches of Culebras, Puerto Rico. He buried it and told Hyden about it.
Hyden talked to several people about getting the cocaine but little did he know that one of them worked for ASO. After two failed attempts to recover the cocaine, Hyden ended up giving a treasure map of the drugs' location, to undercover agents. Police found the drugs and arrested Hyden.
Bill Conrad the mayor of Newberry said, "He was peripherally in a drug sting that involved a very intriguing plot of bringing in drugs from Puerto Rico and selling them in the United States. He was not the principle in this deal, but he was involved to some extent."
The original amount of up to 70 pounds was valued at 1.25 million dollars. Due to harsh conditions at the beach the cocaine had degraded to the point of being worthless and unsellable. "His lawyer found a loophole that would allow him to perform some sort of community service in lieu of the mandatory 10 year sentence," Mayor Conrad said.
Mayor Conrad wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan outlining the plan of a new splash park; the judge accepted it and reduced his sentence from 10 years to 56 days, which he is currently serving. Mayor Conrad explains, "We were able to take something negative and make into something positive. Mr. Hyden is a reputable business man in this city. Has done a good job as a contractor for many years… made one mistake and said hey it doesn't do society any good for me to sit in jail for 10 years. I have something to contribute, what can I do?"
Nakayla Warmack, 9-year-old who visits Triangle Park often says she can’t wait for the new splash park, "I would like to have a splash park because it might be fun," she said.
Triangle Park will undergo many changes; it will also be renamed after retired commissioner Lois Fort.
Monte Flowers another young Newberry resident said, "Splash park? I think it'll benefit the little kids like from staying out of trouble and give them something to do for the summer."
It’s definitely something the community is looking forward to. "And they can splash all around and cool down cause some kids do not like to be hot,” Dlaysia Cox, a 7-year-old Newberry resident said.
Planning for the splash park will begin once Hyden is out of prison on August 5th. It’s expected to be finished next summer.
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