Many Hands Involved in Rebuilding of Barbecue Pit
By Rick Hiduk
The barbecue pit visible from Route 6 in Wyalusing Township was all but wiped away by the September flood. Since then, numerous individuals, civic group members, and business owners have come to its rescue. The hiss of barbecue juices hitting the hot coals and the delicious aroma of slow-cooked chicken emanated from the rebuilt fire pit on Oct. 8, when the Wyalusing Rainbow Club prepared meals for the borough’s annual Fall Festival.
On Sept. 26, Troop 96 Boy Scouts and members of the Weblos den from Pack 96 started the necessary cleanup work at the site under the direction of scoutmaster Gerry Clouse and Rainbow Club member Bill Snyder. The crew of boys and men removed all of the blocks that were left under the pavilion and leveled off the area with the help of Adam Dietz of TranZ, who delivered two buckets of fracking sand from the company depot across Route 6. Many of the cement blocks were broken and were discarded. The boys salvaged as many as they could.
On Oct. 3, the Scouts returned to work with Rainbow Club members and representatives of the Masonic Lodge to reconstruct the pit, using both salvaged blocks and more that were donated by Quick’s Bend residents Mike and Jesse Rhodes and other area residents. Hud Ellis of Hud’s Construction contributed to the project by delivering a load of stone that was placed around the pit to provide drainage.
The pavilion, which is used by a number of local organizations for fundraisers, was constructed in 2007 by Wyalusing Valley High School graduate Rachel Petlock as her senior project. Rachel’s father, John Petlock, sponsored both her project and that of fellow Wyalusing student Sara Stoshak, who built two picnic tables, one of which was washed away in September. The projects were approved by the late Neal “Red” Williams, who owned the property and ran Red’s Mobil gas station prior to the opening of PenMart on the same site.
“It’s a great place to have a fundraiser,” said John Petlock, noting that the visibility and accessibility of the site enables most groups to quickly realize a profit.
Most interviewees agreed that the pit itself has been at its present location since the late 1990s, replacing a pit on Route 6 across from Peoples State Bank. Through the years, the pit and pavilion have been maintained by members of the groups that have used them, which, in addition to the aforementioned, include parishioners of Wyalusing Presbyterian Church and several school-based organizations.
According to Snyder, a community effort is now underway to build a more permanent barbecue pit with a poured concrete pad as its base. Snyder is working with PenMart manager Eric May, whom, Snyder noted, welcomed the idea, and told him that the ongoing relationship between PenMart and local organizations fosters a sense of “goodwill” that is important to the company.
“We’re very happy to continue to have them use the barbecue pit as they see fit,” May said of the Wyalusing-area groups who utilize the site. “It has been a part of the community for a long time, and we have no plans to change anything about it.”