LAHARPE — A little teamwork is going a long way at LaHarpe City Park.
Sparked by one Boy Scout’s idea for a project to earn his Eagle Scout badge, LaHarpe PRIDE members, city employees and other volunteers are pooling their resources to erect a mammoth zip line.
A zip line is a suspended cable between two poles that provides an exciting ride.
The LaHarpe attraction will cover about 175 feet — far enough to give riders a thrill, but low and slow enough to remain safe for passengers of all ages, explained Ridge Barney.
Barney, 16, is the overseer of the project.
The key is to ensure both ends of the line are at proper height, utilizing just enough gravity and friction, for a safe, fun ride.
Barney and others have been at the park on a near daily basis for the past week as crews continue the meticulous work of erecting the support poles before work shifts to attaching a steel cable, platform and other elements.
“It’s all gone pretty smoothly so far,” Barney said.
The goal is to finish the work by Aug. 5, when Barney and his family return home to Ramstein, Germany, where his father, Ryan, is stationed with the U.S. Air Force.
Barney’s mother, Amber, is the former Amber Lee. Barney is the grandson of LaHarpe residents Harry and Joyce Lee.
“My grandfather is on the local PRIDE committee,” Barney said. “They wanted something to spice up the park, and he asked if I had any ideas.”
Barney’s thoughts turned to a village not far from Ramstein that features a zip line.
“My grandfather had visited us previously, so he knew about it,” Barney said.
Speaking on his behalf, PRIDE committee members approached the LaHarpe City Council for permission to build the feature. The Council shared the group’s enthusiasm after being assured of the device’s safety.
The city also agreed to reimburse PRIDE for the cost of materials for the poles and cable — about $1,700 — with PRIDE footing the rest of the bill.
In the interim, Barney spent several days inspecting the zip line in Germany, measuring dimensions and angles to ensure the LaHarpe project would be comparable.
Actually, the LaHarpe apparatus will be a bit longer, at 175 feet from end to end, Barney said.
“We ‘Texas-sized’ it,” Harry Lee, Barney’s grandfather, said.
THE ZIP LINE is one of several improvements LaHarpe PRIDE is targeting for the park.
Members are looking into refurbishing an old sand volleyball court that has long been abandoned and covered with turf.
PRIDE also is looking at developing a walking path, converting a low-lying piece of ground into an ice skating rink in the winter and continuing improvements to the softball diamond.
But first things first.
The organization is optimistic the zip line will attract kids of all ages, even from out-of-towners, to the LaHarpe park. Some adults have expressed interest in giving it a ride.
Several passers-by slow to a crawl as they drive past the park as crews placed the 20-foot poles this week.
THE FINAL component for Barney’s Merit badge project was to find volunteers to assist with the work.
With six siblings, as well as other relatives, PRIDE members and other local residents, finding helpful hands has been a breeze, Barney said.
“Most people are willing and happy to help when they see this is going to benefit the community,” said Barney, in his fourth year as a Boy Scout. “It’s cool to see it being put together.”
Once the project is finished, Barney will submit a written report to his local Boy Scouts organization detailing the effort’s elements. He also has a few other merit badges he still must earn as well.
An Eagle Scout is the highest rank possible for Boy Scouts.
“We do Scouting with our church organization,” he said. “I like being outdoors, camping.”
If there’s one regret, it’s that Barney will barely have time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. His family returns to Germany in less than two weeks.
“That’s unfortunate,” he said, “but we visit often.”
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