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Grant to help fund Woodstock student-designed walkway at conservation area

WOODSTOCK – A walkway designed and produced by Woodstock High School students is one step closer to being completed with a $8,971 grant from ComEd and Openlands’ Green Region program.

The walkway was designed for the William C. Donato Conservation Area, named after a Woodstock High School teacher and conservationist.

Recent graduates Jack Fischbach, Zach Myers, Jon Cunningham, Cole Richter and Blake Kahoun worked on the project through Woodstock High School’s Engineering Design and Development class and Project Lead the Way program.

The students created a 6-foot sample section of the path, which is made from recycled materials including wood from ash trees the city cut down.

The Transportation Commission approved the plan and design after the students presented it to them. Throughout the past year, the students met with city representatives from Public Works, the Transportation Commission, McHenry County Conservation District and other departments to help advise them on the project.

Transportation Commission Chair Andrew Celentano said he treated the students like real adults.

“This is not easy, and it’s not meant to be easy,” he said he told them from the start.

Jeff Van Landuyt, public works director, said the path will cost about $19,000, and with the city matching the grant donation, Public Works should be able to build the whole path.

The path will be 126 feet long and be installed in spring 2016, Van Landuyt said.

Myers, who will be studying software engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this fall, said he was “ecstatic” when he found out about the grant.

One lesson he said he took away from the project was in teamwork.

“We all counted on each other to get the job done,” Myers said. “Eventually it’ll all come through, and here we are with this wonderful walkway that just looks amazing.”

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