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SMC sponsors day of service

By Staff | Aug 19, 2011

Job Corps Volunteers work to tear down Gazepo. Volunteers from Shepherd University also helped in the daylong community service event. (Chronicle photo by Kelly Cambrel)

The Shepherdstown Men’s Club held its community service day Wednesday, the first event in a series of initiatives to revitalize Morgan’s Grove Park.

With the assistance of a handful of volunteers from the community, Shepherd University and Job Corps in Harpers Ferry, the Men’s Club worked to clear brush and tear down a dilapidated gazebo.

Men’s Club president Mike Austin said that the day of service event is the beginning of a long-term plan to invest in the park.

“We feel we have a responsibility to maintain the park,” he said.

Austin said that the Men’s Club had become “absentee landlords” in recent years, doing very little to utilize the park.

With the continued growth in population around the area, however, Austin said he and the other members of the club began to recall its value to the community.

“We think the park’s going to become more important,” he said.

Approximately 20 SU students and 10 Job Corps volunteers met Wednesday morning and divided into teams, tackling tasks on opposite ends of the park.

Anna Stead, work-based learning coordinator for Job Corps, called it a “learning experience” for the students.

Nilan Baddeliyanage, a Job Corps volunteer and the student shop foreman for the group, said that he was excited to be helping with the service project, though he’s pretty well acquainted with volunteering his time.

“It’s what we do … It’s work,” he said.

According to Austin, the Men’s Club has many plans in the works for Morgan’s Grove Park in the near future.

After it’s cleaned up, Austin said the Men’s Club plans to solicit suggestions from the community for input regarding use of the park.

He said some potential ideas, like installing a band shell and community pool, are already being considered.

In 2012 the Men’s Club plans to turn their annual Labor Day picnic into a “chautauqua” – a three-day event held under tents, like a circus or fair. Austin said possible attractions would include things like a petting zoo or pony rides.

Listed on the National Register of Historic places, Austin said he thinks it’s the right time to restore a park he said holds a lot of nostalgia to those who grew up in Shepherdstown, as well a historical significance.

“There are a lot of reasons why it’s special,” he said.