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Kiwanis club spends ‘One Day’ on trail

ERIC J. SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Kiwanis Club’s Stuart Heflin, left, and Douglas Smith help structure a platform bridge for the Historic Jefferson College’s new nature trail Saturday afternoon in Natchez.

NATCHEZ — While the Natchez Trace Kiwanis Club was seeking a community project with impact, Historic Jefferson College needed volunteers to fix up the new nature trail.

The groups found each other, and more than 20 Kiwanians and local Key Club members met Saturday at the new natural trail behind the college armed with tools to take on the project.

Kiwanis Clubs participated in community service Saturday as part of Kiwanis One Day.

“Every Kiwanis Club across the world chooses a project to complete on this day,” said Stuart Heflin, president of the Natchez Trace Kiwanis Club.

Heflin knelt in the mud where he and the crew of volunteers built an elevated walkway at the start of the trail.

“When it rains, the pond comes up and this whole area gets very muddy,” Heflin said. “We are building the walkway so people can still enjoy the trail and avoid the mud.”

Heflin said the club originally planned to spend their One Day at Kyle’s House, but equipment for the project was not available in time.

“This project is a godsend because we really wanted to do something that would impact the lives of kids,” Heflin said.

Robin Person, Historic Jefferson College branch director, said the facility offers several camps and children’s programs.

Person said while grant funds were used to rough out the trails, the money did not cover an elevated walkway.

“We needed help,” Person said. “These guys stepped up and are getting it done. It’s a huge benefit to us.”

Kiwanis member Andy Burns, referred to as “chief engineer” Saturday, said the elevated walkway would be approximately 30-feet long, 24 inches wide and 10 inches off the ground. The wood used in the construction is treated timber.

Key Club members from Adams County Christian School and Cathedral School not only helped build the walkway, but also cleared the trail of poison ivy and stumps.

Key Club International is part of the Kiwanis International group.

ACCS sophomore and next year’s Key Club vice president Melissa Lees said participating in the project made her feel productive.

“I didn’t really do things like this until I joined Key Club,” Lees said.

Lees said she had been raking the trail all morning.

“It’s rewarding, even though we don’t get paid or anything,” she said. “It’s a fun time.”

Lt. governor of district Key Clubs and Cathedral senior Stuart Benoit said he enjoys being outside and helping out.

“It’s great to be able to work with the Kiwanis Club on projects like this,” Benoit said.

Heflin said his club has undertaken many community projects over the years.

“We always wake up sore the next morning,” Heflin said. “But it’s a good soreness knowing it’s a great cause for kids in the community.”

Heflin said anyone who is interested in joining the Natchez Trace Kiwanis Club can meet them every Thursday at noon in the queen’s room of the Carriage House.

“We would love for anyone to join the club,” Heflin said. “We just ask that they have a passion for helping children. That’s our sole purpose.”

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