Students, volunteers branch out to build for Warner-Tully

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

High school welders are building bridges — and clearing paths.

The welders are students at the Vicksburg campus of Hinds Community College working with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps to blaze two miles of trails for walking and biking at the Vicksburg Y’s Warner-Tully camp in Claiborne County.

“At Warner-Tully we had the idea of a walking-biking trail,” said camp director Casey Custer. “The large part in trying to make that happen is the labor involved in making the trail.”

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Custer enlisted the help of Doug Cousineau, a local extreme sportsman. Together, they mapped the trail, recognizing issues with runoff and sloping that could cause erosion.

The next hurdle was manpower. Custer rang up AmeriCorps, and, in two weeks, six members from the River 3 team will spend 10 days in the woods making way for the newly welded bridges and people and bicycles.

“We are excited to make available some outside recreation for all of the community to enjoy,” said NCCC Southern Region Community Relations Specialist Erika Roberts.

The bridges were needed to span two swampy areas along the trail where creekbeds made it impossible to cross on foot or on bike.

So Custer called Joe Johnston, head of the Hinds welding department. The Y paid about $1,000 for the materials, and the students did the rest.

“It feels good to help the community with something that we young men made with the help of Mr. Johnston,” said Vicksburg High School welding student Azariah Myles, 16.

“It teaches them to take pride in their work, to know that it’s going to be used by a lot of people,” said Johnston, a former Warner-Tully camper himself. Most of his dozen welding students from Vicksburg and Warren Central high schools are first-year students. “They have done an exceptionally good job on the bridges,” he said.

Custer hopes the end result will be a new mountain biking program this summer — complete with trails — where campers will learn biking techniques and skills, proper maintenance of the bikes and safety.