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Oak Creek Student Makes Rough Path a Little Smoother

Oak Creek High School senior Luke Mathers helped alleviate an annual problem for soccer players, parents.

It's not always easy for players and fans, who must walk down a small hill and through a trench, to get to the soccer field.

Luke Mathers and his teammates on the boys soccer team always wondered why no one built a better path to get to the field, where the Knights' boys and girls teams play their home games.

Last May, Mathers decided to take matters into his own hands. For his Eagle Scout project, Mathers wanted to construct a wooden bridge to help people navigate the ditch.

If only it was that simple.

He started drawing up plans in the spring, but then spent the summer traveling, first in Europe with the high school German program and then backpacking in the mountains of New Mexico.

When he got back, he was immersed in soccer and band practices for the first months of the school year, but squeezed in time to work toward his bridge-building goal.

"It sounded much more difficult than I thought it would actually be," the Oak Creek senior said of his first woodworking project. "It was much more difficult planning than constructing."

Much of the trickiness in planning came due to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regulations. That area is home to wetlands, so Mathers spent hours on the phone with the DNR, which helped him work through exactly what he was allowed to do and where he could put the bridge.

"Me and my dad were very problem solving," Mathers said. "We sat down and said, alright, so we can't do this, this, this and this. But we still need to put a bridge in. So what are we going to do?"

To top it off, he had to get the project done before his 18th birthday in February to meet the Eagle Scout requirement. Which meant he had to get the bridge in before the snow fell.

But the weather cooperated and he, along with some of his friends, installed the bridge over the Thanksgiving holiday. He hopes to add to the project so people can better navigate the hill.

Mathers announced his intent to build the bridge at the team's year-end banquet. The girls' squad will be the first team to enjoy it.

The Oak Creek-Franklin School Board honored Mathers at its last meeting. Superintendent Sara Burmeister noted the typical difficulty in meeting DNR standards and joked the school district will call on him the next time it works with the agency.

"It's wonderful and we're so appreciative of the project," Burmeister said.

Sharon Armstrong January 21, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Great job, Luke - what an asset you are to our community! Love your determination!
Tpom January 23, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Happy to see such an active young man in the community, and still being involved in such a great program. Becoming an Eagle Scout is hard work, congratulations, not many young people understand how important that is.
Robert S. March 15, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Good work. A real problem solver. We need more young people like Luke.

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