Lakers volunteered, built bridge on Mill Village Elementary’s trail

The children of Mill Village Elementary School have been enjoying the school’s Nature Trail even more for the past year thanks to the efforts of the Mercyhurst University wrestling team.

Paula Bayle’s children attended the school in the Fort LeBoeuf School District, and she has worked to maintain the trail. However, a bridge that crosses the creek had fallen into disrepair and was unusable last summer.

Bayle called Penelec, which donated two telephone poles as supports for a new bridge. The local Girls Scouts asked Shetler Lumber Company to donate 2-by-4s, which the business did.

After the wood was donated, though, it sat for months and absorbed moisture.

“The dilemma was how to carry extremely heavy poles through a wetland area and back through brush and trees to the creek. How many men would it take to lift the poles? All these questions plagued my mind,” Bayle said.

Her daughter suggested calling Mercyhurst wrestling coach Mike Wehler to see if his athletes would want to volunteer.

Wehler, whose children, Maddie, Max and Leo, attend Mill Village Elementary, was receptive to the idea. He told Bayle that the coaches and a few wrestlers would help.

“We held a team meeting and said the coaches are going to do this if anyone wants to help,” Wehler said. “I was hoping to get 10 guys. The whole team wanted to do it, so it was awesome.”

On Aug. 25, 2018, the Mercyhurst wrestlers showed up and hauled the telephone polls into place. They then carried the 2-by-4s and helped assemble the bridge.

“They pulled together constantly helping each other,” Bayle said. “These young wrestlers gave up their time on a Saturday along with their coach who worked with them guiding them to build and secure the bridge for elementary students to have a nature classroom.”

“We had a great time,” Wehler said. “It was nice for all the guys to get together and help out the community. Any time you’re helping kids, you want to help.”

The bridge has been in place for almost a year, and the students have been able to access more of the trail.

“The school uses it, so it’s nice,” Wehler said.

“I asked to find a way to carry heavy telephone poles to the creek and they did so much more,” Bayle said. “They built the bridge.”

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