Job Corps project aids Pageant Hill
Published: Thursday, July 10th, 2014
The sound of chain saws rumbled from Pageant Hill last Wednesday and Thursday, as 10 members of a fire crew from the Box Elder Job Corps near Nemo cut down thousands of jack pines on the Custer Disc Golf Course. The project provided training for the young Type II fire crew, while providing more open area for disc golfers on the course and a more firewise Pageant Hill for the city—all at no charge.
In short, it was a win-win-win situation.
The crew members volunteered their time to do the project, giving up their two weeks of spring break to spend their time cutting down trees and putting them into piles to be burned once they dry out. Helping the crew were three members of the U.S. Forest Service, as well as Steve Pischke, a member of the city’s parks and recreation board who went through the area and marked trees to remain standing.
For some on the fire crew, who are all 18 to 23 years of age, it was their first time using a chain saw.
“It’s alright. I’m not going to say it’s fun,” said Taran Hagen, 19, of Watertown, who said he joined the fire crew to get in shape. “But, it’s a lot better than sitting at Job Corps doing nothing.”
Brandon Fischer, a Forest Service employee who was overseeing the work, said the Nemo fire crew was started around a year ago, and is now funded by the government. Prior to their work on Pageant Hill, the crew was at Jewel Cave National Monument doing work there, all part of ongoing training to become better firefighters.
“This is a way for them get out and learning something,” Pischke said. “If you’re going to be a part of a fire crew you better learn to run a saw and take care of it.”
Todd Pechota of the Forest Service helped get the ball rolling with the project, contacting the Box Elder Job Corps and letting them know they and a project available. Pischke then coordinated the project, which ties into the city’s forestry plan of fuel reduction and becoming more firewise.
Damion Richard, 19, of Missouri, said he joined the fire crew to learn a new skill and possibly turn it into a career. Like Hagen, he said he gave up his spring break to stay behind just in case the fire crew was needed.
“A lot of people on our fire crew left, so I stayed in case there was a fire,” he said. “This (Pageant Hill project) is just kind of a helping hand, a little extra work we can do in our spare time. I do enjoy cutting down trees. I think it’s enjoyable.”
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