Parkersburg enlists students’ help for park project

Photo by Michael Erb Parkersburg Catholic High School senior T.J. Creel measures a concrete slab at Southwood Park Wednesday as part of his drafting class. Mayor Tom Joyce has asked students from the Wood County Technical Center and the Caperton Center to design and build a new shelter at the park. Officials hope to have the project finished in the spring.

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg officials are enlisting the aid of Wood County Technical Center and Caperton Center students to design and build a new shelter for Southwood Park.

Mayor Tom Joyce met with more than two-dozen carpentry and drafting students Wednesday at the technical center on the campus of Parkersburg South High School.

Joyce said a bare 30-by-42-foot concrete slab sits near the pond at Southwood Park.

“It doesn’t really do anything right now. It provides no shade or rain protection,” he said. “We thought this would be a good start to a comprehensive improvement plan for the park.”

Joyce said working with the schools on the project seemed like a good way to help the city while giving the students valuable real-world experience.

Photo by Michael Erb Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce speaks to drafting and carpentry students Wednesday at the Wood County Technical Center.

“It provides them the opportunity to build something that is used by the whole community,” Joyce said. “It gives the students a chance to put their practical skills to use.”

The students on Wednesday traveled to the park to take measurements and begin discussing possible designs for the structure. Joyce said it should be similar to existing structures and have electricity, and he would prefer it have a metal roof, but otherwise students would be able to pitch their designs to the Advisory Commission on City Parks.

Wood County Technical Center Director Pier Bocchini said the project fits with a statewide plan for technical programs to team with organizations for on-site work opportunities.

“Part of that vision is to work with the community as much as we can,” she said. “It is nice that they plan to have the city crews work with the students, too.”

Jeff Mennillo, assistant principal at the Caperton Center, said the project not only gives students a chance to work with the city, but also for the two centers to work together.

Photo by Michael Erb Wood County Schools drafting instructor Mark Ruble talks to students Wednesday at Southwood Park in Parkersburg.

“We’re one happy family, but we’re on two different campuses,” he said. “Any time we can work together we do.”