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May 2, 1997     Cape Gazette
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May 2, 1997

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18 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May 2- Mayg, 1997 CAPE LIFE Prime Hook Visitor Center nears completion; volunteers essential By Michael Short "Many will be shocked to-find that when the day of judgment nears, that there is a special place in heaven set aside for volun- teers." That's the inscription on the sign posted inside the new Prime Hook U.S. Wildlife Refue Visi- tor Center. When the center opens this summer, visitors can thank the dedicated volunteers for making it possible. A core group of 10 to 15 volunteers have been preparing the center for what is expected to be a June opening and official October dedication. "We're excit- ed. We're ready," said Assistant Refuge Manager George O'Shea. The volunteers have poured sidewalks, hung doors, worked on parking lots and laid tile. "It has been a good group of volunteers," O'Shea said. James Rolls is the Work is nearly complete on the new visitor center for Prime Hook Refuge. Here, volunteer George Lynch puts a fnlzhin coat of paint inside the new facility. volunteer coordinator. But he has had plenty of com- pany. Volunteers have done much to make the 3,920 square foot vis- itor center a reality. That's vastly larger than the present 484 square foot visitor center, a converted dairy farm milkhouse. "I have two kids and we enjoy walking out here," said volunteer George Lynch, who was painting the inside of the visitor center ear- tier this month. The week before, volunteers gathered to pour side- walk for the facility. Lynch helps lighter (offload) oil tankers in Delaware Bay. But the Maritrans employee is typical of a dedicated corps of volunteers at Prime Hook who help keep the refuge in repair, check in deer during hunting season and gener- ally help keep the 8,000 acre- facility up and running. O'Shea said the volunteers "did a tremendous amount of work we could not have done." Volunteer help was especially crucial because of a shortage of money. Cash ran out last July and there was not enough money left to finish the project, according to O'Shea. Cost overuns, change orders and a budget already squeezed tight by federal short- falb put the project on hold. Word that the center was delayed spurred federal action and more funding was re-allocat- ed last summer. Another $34,000 was made available with much of the credit due to Sen. Bill Roth's efforts. O'Shea also expressed appreciation to Charlie and Bar- bara Fleetwood as well as the Milton Chamber of Commerce for their support. "My understanding is that the money is on its way ngw and- the Continued on page 25 Michael Shoct photos The tiny cramped office at the Prime Hook U.S. Wildlife Refuge now serves as visitorcenter, bathroom and office for five employees. Shown here in their cozy surroundings as they await completion of a vastly bigger visitor center are (l-r) Dave Windsor, Assistant Refuge Manager George O'8hea (rear), biologist Annie Larsen and Otis CIifton- Environmental awareness workshop set May 3 at Prime Hook Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge will offer an Environmen- tal Awareness Education Work- shop for teachers, group leaders, and refuge volunteers on Satur- day, May 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. This workshop will provide examples of activities teachers, volunteers and group leaders can use with their students on field trips to the refuge, on school grounds or in other outdoor set- tings. This course is offered to teach- ers for a two-fifths in-service ered- it. Also covered will be basic ecol- ogy concepts, plant and animal identification and classification' techniques, use of field guides, techniques for studying the wet- land environment, wildlife man- agement techniques and use of sampling equipment. A bay study at Fowler's Beach will also be included; participants should wear boots for dipping and seining aquatic organisms. The course will demonstrate how to learn about the environ- ment with your students. A science background is not required. Ways of incorporating these activities into present curricula will be discussed. Those attending the workshop should dress for out- door activities and bring a bag lunch. The workshop will be held rain or shine. For more information and to register, call either Marian John- son-Pohlman at (302) 653-6872 or George F. O'Shea at 684-8419. Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is located east of Route 16 on Road 236 in Milton. Swing shopping brings Ralph and Earl back to roost Remember when your father took a rope, threw it over a tree, sawed a piece of wood, notched two grooves on ither side, squashed it down between the rope and pronounced it a swing! Who knew? I mention this because my daughter and her husband are shopping for a swing set for my grandson. It has taken them three months, they have read 50 brochures, traveled hundreds of miles visiting home centers, labored over research, and will probably invest the equivalent of a home equity loan that would be enough to attach a small ballroom onto a house. But there is something to be said about a lone piece of wood hanging from an old oak tree. There are memories, risks and yes, even terror, if you had a brother as rotten as mine. My brother and his rotten friends had a keen interest in science back then. And it was their goal to prove that if you pushed someone like a sister high enough on a swing, you could actually launch her through the air with enough force to land her with a splat and spread eagle on the AROUND TOWN neighbor's roof. As I rose higher and higher, my screams were usu- ally drowned out by my dress that had whipped around my head so that I looked like a souffi6 with patent leather shoes, hanging from a branch. It's childhood flash- backs like this that keep me from things like a Pulitzer Prize. To this day, when I am sitting on an airplane and we are. racing down the runway to lift off, I have this desire to put my dress between my legs and yell "Mom- my!" But memories of that swing weren't always ugly. After all, my brother and his friends did go to camp for as long as anyone would keep them. There, they scientifi- cally launched frogs across a lake to the girls' camp, sending young children packing for home and screaming for their mothers. And yet, backyard swings also allow kids to use their imagination and be creative. My friend Kathy and I would spend .hours sitting on that piece of wood and plotting our futures. We would, of course, be mar- ried. I to a boy named Ralph who sat behind me in fourth grade and was. famous for putting his hand under his armpit to make strange noises. And Kathy to his best friend Earl, who once threw a baseball into a beehive while the principal of the school was stand- ing beneath it being interviewed by the local paper. Both Ralph and Earl were unaware of our plans for the future. They spent most of their time pushing used junked refriger- ators down the side of cliffs to see how often they bounced. Any- way, on this swing, we decided after we were married, we would live next to each other in identical brick houses, with wall-to-wall carpeting and fake spinning wheels that held fake Boston ferns and every night after Ralph and Earl got home from pushing refrigerators, we would cook out on our identical grills for our per- feet identical children. Boy, life was simple back then. Oh yeab, my daughter and her husband finally bought a swing set. It has four slides, two bed- rooms with a complete bath, a chute that plays "I'm Back in the Saddle Again," three monkey bars, a moat, it's own septic sys- tem and individual poles that fly every flag in the United States. Yes, we've come a long way from that one piece of wood hang- ing under a tree. And Ralph and Earl? After they got out of the Federal Witness Protection Pro- gram, they both got jobs as air traffic controllers. Nancy Katz