“Do a good turn daily.” That excellent advice is the slogan of the Boy Scouts of America. Local Eagle Scouts have taken that motto to heart over the past few months by working together to upgrade two separate green spaces in Wheeling’s Woodsdale neighborhood. The park along North and South Park streets and the bike/walking trail connecting Elm Street and Heiskell Avenue are the areas into which these Scouts have been dutifully pouring their sweat equity.
MEET THE SCOUTS
All of these young men have been involved in Scouting since they were young. Advancing from Cub Scout to Eagle Scout takes many years of effort. To qualify as an Eagle Scout, boys must move through the ranks to Life Scout status and be active as a Life Scout for a minimum of six months. They must demonstrate Scout Spirit by adhering to the Scout Oath and Scout Law. In addition to these and other requirements, each Scout must earn 21 merit badges, hold positions of leadership within their troops and complete a sizeable community service project.
There are four local Scouts currently working on the two community improvement projects in Woodsdale.
• Nathan Weekley is the son of Gary and Colleen Weekley and Jennifer and Derek Schoolcraft of Wheeling. Nathan will be a sophomore at Wheeling Park High School this fall and belongs to Troop 6 at Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church.
• Kelly Riedel, son of Rick and Kristy Riedel of Wheeling, will be a sophomore at Wheeling Central Catholic High School in the fall. Kelly is a member of Troop 5 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
• Benjamin Holliday, son of Michele Holliday of Glen Dale, is a recent graduate of Hurricane High School and will be a freshman at West Virginia University in the fall. Benjamin belongs to Troop 82 at Glen Dale United Methodist Church.
• Justin Riggs is the son of David and Kerrie Riggs of Wheeling. Justin will be a senior this August at Wheeling Park High School. Like Kelly, he is also a member of Troop 5 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
THE PROJECTS: EDGWOOD PARK
In 2015, the Weekley family moved into their home near Edgwood Park. It didn’t take Nathan long to notice that this much-used space needed some attention. Many people walked their dogs in the park and were not diligent about cleaning up after them. Some of the grassy areas needed re-seeding. There were a few benches, but the space lacked a facility that could house small gatherings in shaded comfort on a hot summer day.
Nathan planted grass seed where needed and erected dog waste stations on both sides of the park to encourage pet owners to scoop up after their pets. He also thought that a picnic pavilion with sturdy tables would be a welcome addition, so he solicited the help of community volunteers, the Northern Panhandle Homebuilders’ Association, firefighters from the Edgwood station and many others to bring his dream to fruition.
Jesse Mestrovic, director of parks and recreation for the City of Wheeling, has also been instrumental in facilitating Nathan’s project and those of the other Scouts.
“The Edgwood Shelter is a great addition to the neighborhood and provides an opportunity for neighbors to come together and picnic,” Mestrovic says. “I really hope the Girl Scouts that meet at the local church adjacent to the park take advantage of the new shelter as well.”
Presently, the shelter is under roof and the concrete floor has been poured. The remaining finishing touches will be completed as weather permits. “I hope to have everything finished by the Fourth of July,” says Nathan.
A large granite stone engraved by Boswell Monuments has been placed at the shelter site as a gesture of thanks to all those who helped to build it.
THE PROJECTS: PIG PATH
Last May, Benjamin’s cousin Michael was hit by a car while riding his bike on the trail commonly known as the “Pig Path.” (For more background on the history of the Pig Path, see related Weelunk story here.) Michael survived the accident (because in part to the fact that he was wearing his bike helmet) but the crash opened Benjamin’s eyes to the need for some additional safety measures at the Elm Street end of the path.
Once Benjamin began putting his plan down on paper, it became clear that the project was larger in scope than first anticipated. This realization led to Kelly’s and Justin’s involvement in extending the Pig Path improvements from Elm Street all the way to its far end on Heiskell Avenue.
Benjamin’s portion of the path started with the addition of a painted pedestrian crosswalk and related signage at the intersection of Elm Street and Carmel Road.
“The former intersection of the path with Elm Street was a blind intersection,” says Benjamin. To alleviate this danger to walkers and cyclists, Benjamin redirected the entrance of the trail some 50-plus feet down the street. He also erected a split-rail fence across the former entrance to deter people from continuing to use it. Benjamin then spread gravel from Elm Street up to the small concrete bridge that spans the scenic run beneath it.
Though Benjamin’s idea was the spark that lit this fire, Kelly’s portion of the project was actually the first to get underway. Before any other work could begin, Kelly and his volunteer recruits first had to clear out what had basically become a local dumpsite. They removed two large fallen trees and some huge piles of trash and debris.
“We removed a lot of old Christmas trees, a broken statue of Mary, an old lamp pole — all kinds of stuff,” Kelly tells Weelunk. In addition, Kelly was responsible for diverting the flow of an old spring that was causing significant erosion along the trail. Once the cleanup was complete, Kelly thought that a picnic table and trash can would give the flat, cleared space some ambiance.
To cap off his contributions to the renovations, Kelly plans to place a geocache in the area with a special trinket inside. What kind of trinket? Geocache fans will have to wait and see, but here’s a hint — think pink curly tails. (Not familiar with geocaching? Click here to find out more about this popular activity.)
Justin’s project will complete the improvements to the Pig Path site. He will be working from the Heiskell Avenue end of the trail to clear brush and trim back shrubbery. Once this extensive pruning is finished, Justin and his team of volunteers will spread gravel from Heiskell Avenue, converging with what has already been put in place on the Elm Street end. He will also provide a second trash can for the area.
Mestrovic is grateful that the Scouts have spearheaded these improvement projects. He tells Weelunk, ”The restoration of the Pig Path is a project that has been on my radar for quite some time. Thanks to the three Eagle Scout projects working together, this project became a reality. This project enhances the neighborhood and the walkability and bikeability of our community. This bicycle/pedestrian passageway links the neighborhood together by utilizing the old trolley line that once ran from Wheeling to Elm Grove. These substantial improvements have redirected the Elm Street connection thus improving safety; diverted water to prevent further erosion; created a picnic area; added trash receptacles and a geocache; and enhanced the surface of the trail. I am very proud of these young men, their projects and their interest in bettering our community. A big shout-out to all the gracious donors, volunteers, parents, guardians and troop leaders that helped these young men and made these projects a reality!”
Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement, once said, “In Scouting, a boy is encouraged to educate himself instead of being instructed.”
Frank Borsuk, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 5, agrees. “It’s all about the boys,” says Borsuk. “The adult leaders just help them accomplish their goal of earning the Eagle Scout rank.” In the course of educating themselves and honing new skills and abilities, this dedicated group of Scouts has also enhanced the local streetscape and brought about positive change in Woodsdale.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating in any way to these projects, call Frank Borsuk at 304-231-7492.
If you know of a local Boy or Girl Scout in need of an Eagle Scout or Gold Award project, the City of Wheeling’s Park and Recreation Department would be happy to help him or her find one. Contact the department at 304-234-3641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• A lifelong Wheeling resident, Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School and the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she works for an international law firm; by night, (and often on her lunch breaks and weekends) she enjoys moonlighting as a part-time writer. Please note that the views expressed in her writing are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else, including her full-time employer. Through her writing, Ellen aims to enlighten others on causes close to her heart, particularly addiction, recovery and equal rights. She and her husband Doug reside in Warwood with their clowder of rescued cats, each of whom is a direct consequence of his job as the Ohio County Dog Warden. Their family includes four adult children, their spouses and several grandkids.