Volunteers showed up bright and early the morning of October 6 to remove some static from the otherwise beautiful scenery from Econfina River State Park. Park staff solicited the assistance from the Association to take down a long boardwalk and observation tower that was no longer safe to use. By the time the park staff arrived several volunteers had already started removing boards. Soon more volunteers showed up and it was a whirlwind of activity.
The first test was to determine how difficult it was going to be to remove the pilings. A slight pull from our skilled tractor operator Mark Stevenson and the first piling came right out, a sure sign that the structure needed to be removed. As we began to get in a groove the dock began to disappear with a team working on both ends of the dock and another working on the tower. When we got greedy and tried to remove two pilings at a time we realized our limitations.
At the rate things were going we thought we would be done by three, an important deadline for the many Gator fans. The Nole fans were not in as big of hurry since they had a late game. Around noon Assistant Park Manager Steven Sanford suggested we break for lunch and we dutifully followed.
After lunch it was decided we should focus our efforts on the tower. Several people offered their opinions on how the task should be handled. Some old timers reminisced about the downing of a water tower back in the mid 70’s that went awry and fell on the park concession building. Fortunately, our only fear was the tower falling in the river. We soon realized that the steps that had been removed that morning would have been helpful in securing the ropes to pull the tower down. So while a few people attempted to get the rope over the tower the remaining folks watched, visited and laughed.
Once the ropes were secured a good tug with the tractor was all that was needed to put the tower on the ground. Kind of scary that it came down so easy. Once it was down, partly on shore and partly over the water, it was a challenge to get it disassembled. Scott Savery began to dissect the tower cutting stringer after stringer until it was in small enough sections for the tractor to handle. More advice from onlookers was offered on chain saw basics. Scott was probably thankful he was wearing ear protection and could politely ignore the advice.
Soon the flurry of activity was back in swing and by 4:00 the project was complete. It was a hugely successful service project fulfilling the Associations mission of Family, Service, Traditions. Donna Watkins may have said it best “What an amazing group of people. I could not be more proud to have been associated with all of you for the past 25 years. Working alongside you at Econfina today was a great recharge for me, since being a desk jockey I hardly ever get out in "the field." Thanks for a great day. “
Thank you to the following folks for giving their time to help out; Donald & Rosi Forgione, Tom & Stacie Linley, Clif Maxwell, Kadie Ogden, Sandy Cook, George Apthorp, Scotty Cook, Randy Hester, Danny Paul, Mike Bullock, Willy & Wendy Cutts, Ron & Alex Weiss, Gregg & Kimberly Walker, Greg & Misty Kaufmann, Bonnie Allen, Donna Watkins, Dave Randall, Scott Savery, Steve Hughes, Steven Sanford and Bob Wood.