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Volunteers pitch in to help restore Hometown Park

Oct. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HOMETOWN, W.Va. -- Putnam County's Hometown Community Park was heavily damaged during the strong storm -- called a "derecho" -- that swept through several states on June 29.

While the first priority following the storm was to restore power and keep residents cool in the record heat, an estimated 90 percent of Hometown Park lay in ruins. And it had been refurbished just two years before my AmeriCorps volunteers.

Not deterred by having their previous work destroyed, AmeriCorps volunteers have returned to the park and are busy cleaning up the debris and rebuilding the park.

The park, a "north of the river landmark" located on W.Va. 62 between Bancroft and Eleanor in Putnam County, was for a number of years a gathering place for individuals and groups. In time it was abandoned and was becoming overgrown with brush with the pavilion roofs coated with layers of moss, according to a release by AmeriCorps volunteer Mark Simonin, who came from upstate New York to work at Hometown Park.

In 2009, Putnam County Parks assumed operation of Hometown Park and immediately set out to plan for its renovation. It was that year, a group of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members came to the county to rebuild the pavilions and install some playground equipment at the park. Those refurbished pavilions were crushed by trees during the summer storm.

Other improvements were added, including a subsurface drainage system to reduce an otherwise wet river bottom. Putnam County Parks and Recreation director, Scott Williamson, has also applied for grants funds that would be used for building a permanent comfort station.

The clean-up operations are being carried out by the Rivers to Ridges Heritage Trail; they began on Oct. 3 and continued through the remainder of the week, with any leftover tasks to be completed as needed.