SOUTHSIDE — Close to 20 volunteers recently gathered at Chief Cornstalk Wildlife Management Area to help the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources replace a culvert along the lake that was significantly damaged so that maintenance crews will now be able to drive equipment to the dam side of the lake.
“We were told this situation had become a real problem for Wildlife Management,” West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said. “More than a dozen union members stepped forward to bring the needed equipment and provide the manpower to get the pipe properly replaced and repair the culvert.”
Randy Moore, USW District 8 sub-director, said the Union Sportsman Alliance, a national group of union members dedicated to improving outdoor recreation areas, and the West Virginia AFL-CIO raised funds at the annual Union Sportsman Alliance dinner that were used to pay for the two 20-foot corrugated pipes.
“We have a large number of union members who live in this area, so I contacted the folks at Chief Cornstalk to see what the Union Sportsman Alliance could do to help, and was told that the washed-out culvert was putting the whole lake in peril,” Moore said. “We put that on our list as the first thing we should do.”
The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 132 provided an excavator from their training facility and hauled it to the site on one of their trucks. Chuck Parker, business manager for IUOE 132, said he and Training Director Allen Nelson were more than happy to help. Parker ran that excavator while Nelson navigated the semi-truck hauling the excavator along the narrow road leading to and from the lake.
“We want to do whatever we can to protect the lake so that families can enjoy fishing and camping there for years to come,” Parker said.
In addition to Perdue, Moore, Parker and Nelson, among the other volunteers who spent the day working on the project were WV AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Josh Sword and his son, Cohen, union members Charlie Lewis and Rick Lewis, along with DNR employees Heath Miles and Jeff Hansbarger.
Also on hand to help complete the project were Brian Prim, who is running for state Senate, and House candidates Samantha Fooce, Scott Brewer and Gary McCallister.
“We were pleased that these folks who want to represent the residents of this area in the legislature understand the importance of this wildlife management preserve and were willing to get in there and get their hands dirty in order to help protect it,” Perdue said.
Submitted by Stacey Ruckle, communications/campaign director for West Virginia AFL-CIO.