SKillsUSA students plan park project in Monument

Monument School SkillsUSA members, left to right, Kyla Emerson, a senior, and juniors Aubrey Bowlus and Miranda Cook are working on plans to create an ADA accessible path and picnic area at the Monument city park.

Students in Monument High School’s Career and Technical Student Organization, SkillsUSA, expressed an interest to their adviser Michele Engle in giving back to the community.

As a result, three students are spearheading a project to add wheelchair accessibility to the town’s city park, which lies at the heart of Monument.

Senior Kyla Emerson, who is SkillsUSA president for Monument School, junior Aubrey Bowlus (vice president) and junior Miranda Cook completed a needs assessment of the J. Dempsey Boyer Park.

“The students decided it was clear that our park is not accessible to handicapped or disabled community members or travelers,” Engle said, adding while there is currently a gravel path, it is overgrown with weeds and grass.

“This park is used for all of our community events, school picnics, Fourth of July celebrations, funerals, weddings, and daily play,” she said.

Engle said city leaders have approved the park plans.

In their assessment, the three students found that a wheelchair-accessible sidewalk and picnic area would help people of all abilities utilize the park.

“This sidewalk will enable them to reach the play area and basketball court,” Engle said.

She said a picnic table made to seat all sizes of wheelchairs is another part of the design.

On March 1, the students held a ham dinner fundraiser to help pay for the expenses for their SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference.

“There was such tremendous turnout that our students decided to give half of their profits to the park sidewalk project,” Engle said. “The remaining $3,200, the students hope to secure by May via more fundraisers or even a successful grant response.”

She said Dan Emerson Contracting and Engle Contracting have offered their labor as in-kind work.

If they can secure funding, the group hopes to have the project done by late May.

Kyla Emerson said she’s looking forward to seeing the completion of the project.

“I’m excited to see the sidewalk go into the park and see how many individuals it helps,” she said.

Monument SkillsUSA students will attend the program’s March 14-16 State Leadership and Skills Conference in Clackamas. There are 15 students in the local program in grades 7-12, and seven plan to attend the conference.

Sophomore Samantha Adams will compete in pin design, which was created using Adobe and represents Oregon and many of its skilled trades; junior Drew Wilburn and senior Cade Milton will compete in welding, including mig, tig and shielded metal arc welding; and Emerson, Bowlus and Cook will give a presentation on their community service project.

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at angel@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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