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Hancock Boy Scout's project improves area park

Scout Cody Messner with Niemackl Lake Park caretakers Pam and David Nachbor. Messner completed improvements at the park as part of his pursuit of Eagle Scout status. Photo courtesy of the Grant County Herald1 / 3
A low spot on the trail after Scout Cody Messner added gravel to repair it. Photo submitted2 / 3
A wet low spot on a trail before it was improved by Scout Cody Messner's project. Photo submitted3 / 3

A Boy Scout from rural Hancock hopes the work he organized on trails in Niemackl Lake Park in rural Herman will inspire other Scouts to do projects at the park.

"I'm hoping other Boy Scout do projects (at the park) because it needs it," Scout Cody Messner said. Messner and a group of volunteers improved the trails and trail markers, planted dogwoods as a screen between the caretakers' house and a picnic shelter and did other work at the park as part of his Eagle Scout project. Messner, who is almost 15, completed the project as part of his requirements to become an Eagle Scout. He joined Boy Scout Troop 491 in Starbuck about two years ago. Hancock has a Cub Scout troop but not a Boy Scout troop.

Messner had spent time at Niemackl Lake Park, a parked owned by the city of Herman in Grant County, and noticed a need for some improvements. The trails were not marked and some parts of the trail needed repairs, Messner said.

"The signage was pretty much nonexistent," said Pam Nachbor, who along with her husband David, is a park caretaker. "He named the trails and put up new signage."

Nachbor said the park has at least two miles of trails. Messner also had gravel installed in a low spot on one trail.

Messner and his mom Kara also revamped the trail maps. Those are available at trailheads and at the two shelters.

The park project required Messner to plan it and to raise donations for needed items. Area businesses donated to the project.

"I would go into the store and ask for a donation or call them," Messner said. He needed to explain the project each time he asked for a donation.

Messner also needed to make a presentation to the Herman City Council. The council approved the project but Messner said he did make a few changes after the council's initial approval. He used gravel instead of dirt to fill in a frequently wet low spot on a trail. Also, he wasn't able to remove buckthorn or prickly ash from areas of the park because it was too difficult to distinguish those plants from others that needed to remain in the park, Messner said.

Volunteers also planted dogwoods as a natural barrier between the Nachbor home and a picnic shelter.

About 25 people, including Scouts and other volunteers, turned out to help with Messner's project on a Saturday in June. Scouts log the volunteer hours as part of their Eagle Scout project. Each volunteer put in about four hours of work that day. A total of 60 volunteer hours is good for an Eagle Scout project and 80 is even better, Messner said. "I got 150 total hours," Messner said.

Nachbor said she'd welcome other similar projects at the park. "There is always room for more projects," she said.

Nachbor said the park may be small in terms of acres but it has lots to offer. The park has two picnic shelters, camping, several lakes near it and an observation tower.