Mauch Chunk Lake Park's oldest pavilion is undergoing a major renovation, thanks to the help of the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps.
The PCC is in the process of refurbishing the Agnes McCartney Pavilion, the oldest of the park's pavilions dating back to the 1970s. Over the years, it had deteriorated from the weather, and unlike the pavilions built afterwards, did not have a kitchen.
At the McCartney Pavilion, a five-member PCC crew, helmed by crew leader Jody Johnson, replaced rotted upright supports, repaired benches and is building a kitchen, to expand the pavilion. A rain gutter will be installed to reduce further water damage.
"The upright supports for the roof were old and structurally unstable," Johnson said. "The old posts were made from normal lumber and painted. They were touching the floor and drew water like a wick. There was originally a drainage ditch along the front edge but over time, it washed out."
The old posts were removed and replaced with double 4 x 4 inch pressure-treated lumber. They were set on a post riser above the concrete floor to sit above any water.
On the east end of the existing concrete pad of the pavilion, the PCC team framed the kitchen, sheeting it with water resistant pressed board, and sealing it with a vapor barrier. It will be finished with vinyl siding.
The kitchen interior will be finished in painted T-111 with an enclosed ceiling. The crew will also install power and water.
The kitchen will include a refrigerator, range, microwave, sink, two roll-up windows, and counter space to serve food. When the kitchen is completed, the PCC will extend the pavilion 10 feet to the west.
Over the past year, the PCC built a camp store, which was completed when the Mauch Chunk Lake Camp grounds opened on April 22. The store will open weekends and for limited hours during the week until May 30, when the store will open full time for the season.
The team is repairing all the picnic benches in the park. When the McCartney Pavilion is completed, they plan to update the kitchens in the remaining pavilions.
MCLP's has had a relationship with the PCC since its inception, making it the second longest in the state, according to Johnson.
The PCC program helps young people between 18 and 25 years old, and between 16 and 18 years with working papers and parental permission, to learn construction techniques as they earn money for tuition.
"It's a one-year program with an option to extend for two years," Johnson explained. "If they haven't completed high school, they complete it in the program. If they completed high school, they can take college courses."
During the program, they can receive $2,000 to use for part-time education expenses. After completing the program, they can get a $1,000 bonus, plus $5,500 toward future education at an accredited school.
Kristian Koehler and Alfredo Russo have been with the PCC crew for six months. Each had been working at MCLP and heard about the PCC from Rick Johnson, the park's maintenance supervisor.
Koehler, who takes courses at Lehigh Carbon Community College, is considering going into elementary education. Russo is taking post high school certification courses in PennDOT inspection, forklift operation, and oil burner repair at Carbon County Technical Institute.
When asked about the PCC, both Koehler and Russo gave similar replies: "Great job" and "I like being outdoors."
Johnson joined the PCC and came to help his brother, Rick Johnson, at MCLP in February. Jody has a background in construction supervision and teen counseling.
"I enjoy mentoring youth," Jody Johnson said.
The current PCC work was funded in last year's state budget but this year, it's more uncertain.
"We are waiting to see if we get a PCC grant for the coming year," said Rick Johnson.