Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 10 Prince William Forest Park- Charles Papacostas

Most of this week Amber and I spent with park maintenance. On Tuesday, we shadowed Buildings and Utilities Foreman Scott Shea. We spent some time in the office where he explained the budget maintenance receives each year and how he has to divide it up between equipment, personnel, and projects. He stressed the importance of how he must carefully watch and track the money throughout the year so that he will not go over the budget. He further discussed PMIS or Project Management Information System, and how it is used when he initiates a large project in the park. Later we accompanied Rocky Schroeder on visits to a few projects. We drove over to Cabin Camp 3 and observed the renovation of one of the old bathrooms built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. Some of the wood that was part of the frame of the structure was crumbling, but the building was not going to be knocked down. The sinks, toilet, and showers were the originals installed nearly 80 years ago and are going to remain there. It was great to see the work being put into fixing this structure while trying to maintain the look it had in the 1930’s when it was originally constructed. I enjoyed seeing the measures being taken to preserve this structure, as it contributes much to the park’s history and displays the hard work of the CCC.

On Wednesday, we spent the morning attending a meeting with park staff to discuss upcoming events and the paving project. In the afternoon we accompanied Rocky on an inspection of couple of the dams located in the park. We first drove over and checked the dam at Carter’s Pond. He took some pictures and determined that there were no immediate causes for concern. After leaving Carter’s Pond, we ventured over to the dam at Cabin Camp 3 where there we no problems either. Rocky explained that part of the lake that formed there was a swimming pool and had a concrete bottom, but it had now largely broken apart. He showed us an old pipe that connected to a nearby stream that many years ago supplied Cabin Camp 3 with water but had not been used in almost 30 years.

The Youth Expo at Anacostia Park in Washington DC was lots of fun. There were many high school aged kids there who were working at various parks in the National Capital Region and it was great to be able to represent the program with fellow prorangers Amber, Jay, Mark, Meaghan, Sarah, and Dan. After lunch, we all decided we would go roller skating, and I was a little excited and nervous since it was my first time skating. I had a great time though, and gradually found my balance out there, but not after falling several times. There were plenty of hilarious moments, and I definitely want to go skating again. It was great to spend time with the Regional Chief Will Reynolds as well, and he took plenty of awesome photos. I was definitely very happy that Amber and I were able to tag along with the YCC’s from our park and attend this event!!

Friday was a change of pace, and we did a ride-along with officers from District 1 of US Park Police that night from 6pm-2am. It was fascinating to see the difference from what they do when compared to rangers. One task that I was not aware of was that they are responsible for helping to close the Ellipse at certain times. The officer I rode along with had to hold a post out there for a few hours and had to redirect many tourists looking to take a picture of the White House. After that we got word that the Ellipse was open, we went back on patrol, largely in the northern part of the district. The officer made several traffic stops while up there for people running stop signs and one for a man who had a broken headlight. At around 1 am he stopped a car for driving through a yellow light, which in Washington, D.C. is illegal. After running the license with dispatch, it came back that it was suspended, so the officer called in for a cover officer and then searched the man for contraband and arrested him. We transported the prisoner back to the station, where he was searched again and told to remove the shoelaces from his sneakers. This was interesting to see because it really demonstrates the importance of officer safety and keeping a prisoner safe from him or herself. It reiterated the theme that anyone can hide anything anywhere, and it reminded me that being thorough is absolutely necessary in this line of work. Following this procedure, I observed the booking process. The officer took the man’s fingerprints on the AFIS machine, which I had heard of but never seen before. It was interesting because when an officer takes the fingerprints of a suspect, the prints go into a database which provides the officer information on any previous arrests of the suspect or active warrants. After watching the booking process it was time for me leave, but I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with the US Park Police, and gain an understanding of their agency.

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