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By David Knopf, News Editor
It was a hot day to work outside – especially the kind Jimmy Hamm, John Landwehr and other members of Richmond High School’s new Interact Club are doing.
Interact, a community-service organization sponsored by Richmond Rotary Club, is building a 14-foot pedestrian bridge across a drainageway that separates the Spartans baseball field and the front parking lot at Southview Park.
When it’s completed, the bridge will allow people to take a direct route to the field without disturbing the rock that lines the ditch bed.
“The parks board came to me and asked if I could get the baseball team involved,” said Bob Lauck, an assistant baseball coach and math teacher at the high school. “A lot of people who approach the field head for that gate.”
Lauck said the bridge will make it possible for baseball players and others to use a route that comes naturally.
But rather than make it a team project, Lauck saw an opportunity for Interact, which organized last spring and received its official charter June 29. The club has around 20 members, several of whom went to work at 6:30 a.m. early last week to begin work on the bridge foundation before the hottest part of the day.
Lauck, a club sponsor who came up with the bridge design, worked with fellow Rotary member Doug Kirk and students Parker Johnson, Chad Truby, Matt Stafford and Zoe Harper, who worked alongside Hamm and Landwehr.
The first order of business was to mark support locations and begin digging holes for the 30-inch piers that would hold the bridge in place. Lauck used a chainsaw to cut railroad timbers to the right size, but it was the students who did the most physical work.
As dry as it’s been, digging the holes was no simple chore.
“A couple of these boys have never used a post digger before,” Lauck said. “Some of them have never done this before, so they don’t know how hard it’s supposed to be.”
Railroad timbers will also serve as cross braces for the six-foot-wide bridge. It will be cut from treated wood.
Interact already has been well received by the community. Grant Akers, who runs a railroad-supply business, furnished the timbers. Derstler Lumber is supplying materials at a discount, Lauck said, and Dale Hillegas, the father of club member Myles, will use his sawmill to cut wood for the bridge.
Interact was organized while Kirk was Rotary president, Lauck said, and received $250 as seed money from the club and another $250 a quarter to support its community projects.
Work on the bridge began July 3, took a break for the Fourth, and will continue until the bridge is completed, Lauck said.
Interact, roughly the equivalent of the Kiwanis Key Club, has elected its first officers. Landwehr serves as president, Ashley Williams as vice president, Harper as treasurer and Jessica Clampitt as secretary. Hamm and Reid Summers serve as at-large representatives.