Scout project transforms shed into visitors' center at Crooked Creek Lake
The unexpected help of a Boy Scout transformed a deteriorating vacant building into a new visitors' center at Crooked Creek Lake.
The park, its campgrounds, beach and lake in Manor Township are courtesy of a flood control dam operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Although the park attracts about 420,000 visitors a year, it has done so without the benefit of a visitors' center, which closed at least 15 years ago, according to Glenn Hawkey, the site's resource manager.
The Corps developed a three-year plan to revive the building, but Boy Scout Andrew Muth, 16, of Boggs changed all of that.
Muth first stumbled upon the building while hiking and later learned it was a former visitors' center. Last year, he thought rehabbing the building would be a worthy project toward requirements to be an Eagle Scout.
Hawkey said the Corps jumped at the offer.
When he finished the renovations in November, the renovations were substantial enough to trim the Corps project timeline by two years.
With careful planning, Muth and 24 other volunteers installed exterior siding, painted the exterior wood, cleaned out and removed outdated materials and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and other fixes — all in one day.
While Scouting projects contribute to a number of improvements in local parks, Hawkey said Muth's was on a much larger scale.
Award beyond Eagle Scout
In fact, the renovations caught the attention of the Corps regional headquarters in Pittsburgh, which bestowed Muth with the Corps Commander's Award for Public Service.
“I was shocked,” said Muth, who received the award during a surprise ceremony on Friday. “I was under the impression it was just a meeting.”
Muth attributes the success of the project to planning and the generosity of others.
Although he was confident he could get the job done, Muth was surprised by the turnout of volunteers.
Much of his project time was spent planning and contacting potential volunteers. Among them were fellow members of the Snyder Stingray swim team from the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning and the West Shamokin High School band for whom he plays trumpet. He also turned to his Boy Scout Troop, No. 554 out of Slate Lick, and family and friends.
“I greatly appreciate everyone who helped me out,” he said.
A lesson learned for Muth: “Regardless of whether you want to ask or not, you have to ask for help to complete a project like that.”
The Army Corps is installing new flooring and coordinating educational displays not only on the dam and the park, but area hiking trails and other community information.
The center is set tentatively to re-open May 20, with operating hours on Fridays and the weekends.
Count on Muth as one of the visitors.
“Yes, we'll be stopping there quite often to see how it goes.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.