|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Monday, 30 January 2012 00:00|
When members of the U.S. Army built Fort Verde, they didn’t intend for it to last. They built the adobe structures long ago and really didn’t stick around that long in the grand scheme of things.
In fact, no one else probably expected the fort to still be standing, not at first anyway.
Some of the buildings were scavenged for construction materials, others were repurposed as homes or school.
Today, only four of the original buildings remain, and it falls on Arizona State Parks to make sure it stays that way.
Of course, keeping up maintenance on 140-year-old buildings made of wood and mud isn’t the easiest job in the world.
Thankfully, the park system has a lot of help.
Last week, a group of young men and women from across the country spent some time at Fort Verde working to help keep water and moisture away from the fort buildings’ susceptible foundations.
They came together through the AmeriCorps program, a service organization created by President Bill Clinton in 1993 that gives young people ages 18 to 24 the opportunity to travel to a part of the United States where their work is needed.
There are different types of AmeriCorps volunteers. Some enter the Vista program, which places volunteers in low-income communities to work in a variety of places like schools and senior centers.
The men and women at Fort Verde were part of the National Civilian Community Corps branch, which team leader Lupita Hernandez said involves a bit more physical hands-on types of work.
Before heading to Fort Verde, for example, the team worked at Dead Horse Ranch State Park where they worked to remove invasive weeds.
Dead Horse is also where they’re living while they work here in the Verde Valley for a few more days.
At Fort Verde, the team has been digging about a half-foot down around the foundations of the old army buildings, laying down gravel and a special type of landscaping fabric.
George Dvorak, a volunteer who helps out with maintenance around the fort, said the work was needed because the way water was coming off the roof during the rain was channeling it right back into the foundation.
This is Hernandez’s second tour with AmeriCorps. Her first took her to work with disaster relief efforts in Missouri. Hernandez said she was happy to be back around for a second time.
“I really got a lot out of the program,” Hernandez said.
The team began this latest journey at the AmeriCorps offices in Denver, where members undergo training in different skills including CPR.
The reasons the team members join are all a little different, but they all said it’s been a worthwhile experience.
“I just wanted to do something to take a year off before I start college,” team member Sanjay Roberts said. “I heard about this program and it’s been really good.”
Personal growth through service is important to these people who have volunteered to be uprooted for nearly a year.
“I’m just out of high school,” Rose Dobbs said. “I think this is an opportunity to become a little more mature and to grow a little.”
Fort Verde State Historic Park Manager Sheila Stubler said having the AmeriCorps group working at the fort was a great help, and she jumped at the chance when the parks system called her and asked if anything needed to be done.
The town also helped out, Stubler said, by providing some heavy equipment to get some of the work done.
The group will be here until the first of February, then it’s off to Buckskin Mountain State Park for some more work.