New Partnerships – New Interest – Rejuvenated Communities – New Dreams
When my friend, Bill desRosiers invited me to do an article about a Cabot Gas/South Gibson Community work day at the old ball park, I really had reservations on how I could tie that project to my publication “Wildlife Management News.” Bill told me that the project involved a nature trail that wrapped around the park and I should take the time to check it out.
I had a little trouble finding the park which is tucked off Route 92 in South Gibson on a narrow road across from the Methodist Church. When I followed a GDS pickup in to the park entrance, I was amazed at what was going on. People wearing blue Cabot shirts were everywhere and everyone seemed to have a project. Concrete blocks were being laid, mulch spread, picnic tables constructed, overgrown trails cleared, chain link fences constructed, and most importantly – kids playing.
Bill introduced me to professional photographer Kirk VanZandbergen from Brackney, PA and we began our tour of the trail. That trail is next to a small, clear picturesque stream and we soon came upon a weather worn sign saying: South Gibson Conservation Club – Sponsor Cooperative Trout Nursery, PA Fish and Boat Commission. “Oh, by the way, Jim,” Bill said, “there’s a trout building down the trail where they still raise trout.”
Now my curiosity was really piqued. I walked ahead of the guys to an old narrow and long building that houses the raceway for the trout. The natural stream provides the clear oxygenated water that the fish thrive in. Now I was in for another surprise. The caretaker of the nursery was there in the building and I recognized his voice before I could see him in the dark raceway. It was my friend, Bill Clarke, who is an avid sportsman and long time member of the Susquehanna Federation of Sportsmen. Bill explained to me that he has been raising trout here since the early 1960s. He went on to tell me that three fishing derbies are held for the community youth each year and the remaining trout are stocked in local streams. I told Bill that I had no clue this little hatchery existed and he shared that although it’s a little run down he still feeds the fish twice a day and he is the last surviving volunteer to run it. This didn’t surprise me in knowing Bill. He was named Sportsmen of the year several years ago by his peers and members of the Federation of Sportsmen. Many people don’t know that either.
When I caught up to Bill desRosiers on the trail, he told me how the wetland designated areas had to be dealt with and how old growth apple trees were left to enhance the wildlife habitat. The trails were at this time constructed with tamped modified and on each side of the trail areas are open for future planting. When I asked Bill what they were going to plant in these openings, he said he wasn’t sure. I had several bags of Buck Forage Clover in my truck at the time and offered them right on the spot to plant next to the trails and other larger openings next to the ball field. Bonnie Morris and her sons Paul and Matthew took on the task of broadcasting clover seed on the entire area.
After walking the rest of the trail and taking photos of the new fencing and infield, the fifty plus people work force was gathered up for a barbeque lunch. It was there that I met Ashley Kilmer, who is the community leader and young woman who played on this ball field when she was a child. Like so many facilities in our area, this little field was probably neglected by the lack of funding to keep it going. When the opportunity arose for the community and Cabot Oil and Gas to partner together, it was Ashley who rekindled the dream of making the park possible. This labor of love worked because of a partnership, not just because of money handed out. I saw lots of blue t-shirts that said Cabot, but they were worn by community leaders, natural gas employees, and most importantly, kids who are going to have memories of their new ball park.