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Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Volunteers vital in Black Jack site cleanup efforts

Students, community members pitch in with preparations

May 25, 2006

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Carol Von Tersch hauls pieces of wood and metal for the cleanup by the Pearson House.

Carol Von Tersch hauls pieces of wood and metal for the cleanup by the Pearson House.

Volunteers are playing a major role in preparing Black Jack Battlefield to eventually become a public park and nature preserve.

"They have helped us a lot," said Kerry Altenbernd, a member of the Black Jack Battlefield Trust, which owns the 40-acre site about 3 miles east of Baldwin.

College students, professors, community and service organizations as well as interested individuals have pitched in to help clean up the former farmstead sold to the trust in 2003 by the James Cavender family.

That cleanup has included clearing brush and removing small trees and limbs, debris and trash. They have been working with trust members generally on Saturdays.

Dozens of students from Baker University have worked at the site during the past couple of years. The university requires students to do some community service work.

"They actually like it," said Brenda Day, an instructor at Baker. "That's hard labor, but they have actually embraced that task. Some have gone out there on their own."

Ramon Powers, at left, hauls junk at the Black Jack site. Volunteers have assisted with cleanup efforts at the site.

Ramon Powers, at left, hauls junk at the Black Jack site. Volunteers have assisted with cleanup efforts at the site.

Kansas University students also have pitched in, especially student volunteers with Environmental Action to Revitalize the Heartland, an organization under the Center for Community Outreach.

"We've also had people from all over Baldwin, Vinland and rural Douglas County down here," Altenbernd said. "Some people come once or twice, some come for a month's stretch; just whenever they can."

Altenbernd estimated that more than 150 volunteers have helped at the battlefield over the past two years.

The cleanup has helped the trust prepare for the June 2-3 sesquicentennial commemoration of the battle.

"Originally we had to cut down some brush," Altenbernd said. "We wanted people to be able to see the battlefield. We've had about two or three things to emphasize at the same time."

Volunteer work will be needed at least until the trust opens the park to the public on a permanent basis. That won't be for another two years, Altenbernd said.

If you want to volunteer or want more information, send an e-mail to volunteers@blackjackbattlefield.org.

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