Guest column/It really does takes a community to feed an Army

During the fall of 2015, at the request of park administrators, officials from the Army 336th Engineer Company of Weirton made a visit to Brooke Hills Park. The purpose was to meet with officials to discuss potential work they could perform to assist in the parks expansion and improvement program. At that time, an agreement was made, a plan was established and a partnership was formed. Since that time, the unit has been a regular visitor to the park and has completed many projects and services.

But when the Army works, the Army needs to be fed. That is when, without reservation, Brooke County community organizations, businesses and church groups stepped forward and displayed their generosity to provide meals for the military personal.

The following alternated in supplying meals every day work was done at the park: Brooke Hills Park staff, Janice McFadden; Vern’s Paradise, Shirley Georgetti; Drover’s Inn, Mark Cooper; Franklin Volunteer Fire Department, Mike Bolen; Franklin Community Methodist Church, Pastor Carl Tribett and John Hosler; Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church, Pastor Bryce Greico; Crocked Dock and Hard Times, Lester Bradley; Station Grille, Kim and Keith Malinky; Wellsburg Subway, John Angius; Kroger Food and Pharmacy, Heather Charlton, Linda Kaczmarek and Carol Parsons; Domino’s Pizza, Yolanda Cronin, Lacey Neely and Jamie Campbell; Vito’s II, Skip Cutrone; DeFelice Brothers Pizza, John Meszaros; Riesbeck’s Food Market, Burke Nicholson, Tim Thompson and Diane Lamb; Mario’s, Danny DiCarlo; Dee-Jays, Dewey Guida; Weirton Wal-Mart, Ashley Wilt; Sam’s Club of St. Clairsville, Cathy Nixon and Cathy Litchko; and Valley Cheese, Janet Richardson.

The 336 officially began its work at Brooke Hills Park on Feb. 10, 2016.

Regardless of weather conditions, they have worked two- or three-day weekends every month since, with the exception of holiday months or if on another assignment. They also set up a complete military camp and stayed and worked at the park for 10 days last August.

Work completed includes the destruction, removal of debris and reclaiming the ground of the former swimming pool, bath house, batting cages, basketball court fences and youth baseball fields. They are presently moving earth to extend the present baseball field that will accommodate any level of baseball or softball. The area from where the earth is being moved will serve as a new multi-purpose field. They greatly assisted the construction of the new disc golf course, built a new shelter at the playground where they poured a concrete pad that will house a new wheelchair swing and renovated the former restroom and showering facility at the primitive campground.

The military has constructed light pole bases and poles and wiring at the playground and lake and boathouse area. Bases have been constructed and poles will be installed and wired at the former basketball courts, that will be converted into a new upgraded outdoor sportsplex for basketball (adult and youth), volleyball, tennis, paddle ball, pickle ball and badminton play.

When the former Girl Scout camp building was destroyed by a vandal’s fire, they removed it and improved the road to that area.

This group has been the “go to” group for the park for the various requests they answered.

The 336th returned to Brooke Hills Park on Jan. 6-7.

Using heavy machinery, they continued to move earth for the ball field project and clear an area beyond the field for a new RV park. The work at Brooke Hills Park is to provide an opportunity to hone the skills of the unit and increase the readiness of the 336th.

Brooke Hills Methodist Church served as the host for the weekend.

The unit will return to the park Feb. 3-4.

Capt. Kevin Starbuck is the individual in charge of all operations conducted at Brooke Hills Park. He is assisted by Sgt. See Cheow, who serves as a major contact individual for the park. The company is extremely versatile and has the capabilities of supplying many and all types of labor-skilled individuals, including electricians, carpenters, finish workers and heavy equipment operators.

The 336th is one of eight companies that make up the 463rd Engineer Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col Wai-Kin Tong. Maj. James Tucker McNeese serves as the executive administrator. He is responsible for all individuals (860) and work conducted by the battalion. Both have been to Brooke Hills Park for inspection and approval for work completed. The 463rd is one of eight battalions that make up the 411th Engineer Brigade, which is under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Matthew S. Warne.

We are proud to say our Army is a vast, extremely organized and well-functioning section of our total armed forces, with admirable leadership and direction. We at Brooke Hills Park are extremely thankful and appreciative of their outstanding, conscientious and proud efforts in our park and for the Brooke County community. They are not only our partner, but they are considered family. They have had their family picnic at Brooke Hills for the past two summers and are welcome to return.

The Brooke Hills Park administration wishes to acknowledge and thank those contributing individuals and groups mentioned. Their consideration, kindness and support in assisting us with our ongoing endeavor to make Brooke Hills Park a very special place for our citizens and the surrounding area is second to none.

The same appreciation and thanks are extended to Scott Conway and Conway Construction for the donation and construction of a new roof for the boat house and arcade.

(Billiard is a board member, liaison and accommodations coordinator for the 336th Engineer Company.)