NEWCOMB - A crew of about eight AmeriCorps workers lent state, town and private facilities in Newcomb a much-needed hand this summer.
The crew worked at Great Camp Santanoni, the Adirondack Interpretative Center (AIC), the Tahawus/Upper Works area and in the High Peaks Wilderness. They were in Newcomb for almost two months, leaving town earlier this week after a barbecue that locals threw for them.
The projects were done in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, town of Newcomb, Open Space Institute and State College of Environmental Science and Forestry, which provided them housing for the duration of their stay.
Members of the Raven 2 AmeriCorps team work at the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb in August.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
At the AIC, run by the SUNY ESF, the AmeriCorps team helped repair the entrance to the building and restored a butterfly garden that had lost its luster in recent years.
Paul Hai of the AIC said the efforts of the AmeriCorps team were "absolutely critical to getting work done that's going to preserve this place as a great public resource." He estimated they contributed about 900 hours of labor to the center.
Hai said the team did a rebuild of the entranceway to the center, making improvements to the drainage system and walkway that visitors use when walking from the parking lot to main building.
"Instead of what was ... an erosion-laden, disorganized, uninviting entrance, now we we are going to have a very focused, very crisp entrance," Hai said.
The team also did reclamation work on two trails at the center, including one that is a connector trail to the Great Camp Santanoni.
"That's something we're really excited about because when we look at Newcomb as a whole, linking the resources in the communities, so that people can enjoy and have a better connectivity of experience in Newcomb is really critical to us," Hai said.
The AmeriCorps team in Newcomb was called Raven 2. They are part of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). Following in the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, the program's goal is to strengthen communities and teach group members leadership skills.
The team members range in age from 18 to 24. In exchange for their work, they receive a modest weekly stipend, free room and board and a grant of about $5,500 that they can use toward their school loans.
The 10-month program is based at the Perry Point, Md. campus which covers the Northeast region. Teams from that campus serve in states from Washington, D.C. to Maine. Raven 2's first project was in Maine working with Habitat for Humanity weatherizing homes. Their second project was in Philadelphia, working with SERVE Philadelphia and the PhillyRIsing Collaborative. While in the city, they cleaned up communities and worked on neighborhood revitalization projects.
"We'd take an alleyway that was just full of garbage and overgrowth of weeds over years and years and just turn it around completely," said 19-year-old Samantha Cudnohufsky.
In general, most members said they joined AmeriCorps so they could give something back to areas and people in need.
"Everyone has their reasons why they join, but I think the general consensus is just to help the country," said 23-year-old Travis Hargrove of Kingston.
DEC spokesman Dave Winchell said that "DEC staff identified the AmeriCorps NCCC program as a possible opportunity to complete stewardship projects at minimal costs to DEC."
"We are pleased and excited to have this work done at little cost to New York taxpayers," said Rob Davies, Director of the DEC Division of Lands and Forests. "The work of the AmeriCorps team protects and preserves historic resources and improves the experience of visitors to the sites."
Newcomb supervisor George Canon called the AmeriCorps team "extremely hard workers" and was very appreciative of the work done in his town.
"Far as I'm concerned, everywhere they went was for the benefit for the community," Canon said.