American Legion Post 25 recognizes volunteers

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American Legion Post 25 Adjunct Richard Minnick, right, presents Annalie Bouchard of Beacon Falls with a certificate of recognition for her volunteer work at Toby’s Pond during a ceremony June 28 at the Beacon Falls Senior Center as First Selectmen Gerard Smith looks on. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — Schafer-Fischer Post 25 American Legion honored volunteers who helped with the cleanup and restoration of Toby’s Pond.

During its regular meeting on June 28 Legion officials handed out certificates of recognition and thanks to seven individuals that volunteered at Toby’s Pond.

O&G Industries deeded the pond, which runs parallel to the Naugatuck River, to Beacon Falls in 2009 as part of a deal with the state Department of Environmental Protection. Prior to that, the area had been a sand and gravel operation for several decades. This year the town called for volunteers to help clean up the area.

Annalie Bouchard, the first volunteer recognized, was also the youngest, at 15 years old.

Post Commander Bruce Carlton told the audience that he really appreciated the hard work Bouchard has been putting in at Toby’s Pond.

“Young kids could be doing a lot of other things than cutting and dragging brush,” Carlton said.

Bouchard said she became involved with volunteering at the pond because her father, Michael Bouchard, was involved with it. The volunteer work also counts towards the 40 hours of community service that Woodland Regional High School requires for students to graduate.

She said she only has about 10 hours left of community service for her graduation requirement. However, she plans to continue volunteering even after that requirement has been fulfilled.

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding,” Bouchard said.

The American Legion also recognized Michael Bouchard, Charles Edwards, Steve Knapik, Jeff Smith, John Smith, and Brian Swan for their volunteer work at the pond.

American Legion Adjutant and Toby’s Pond Steward Richard Minnick said these volunteers put in a lot of personal time to work on the pond.

“They take time off from jobs where they are actually paid,” Minnick said.

After the volunteers had all been recognized, the Board of Selectmen stepped forward to recognize Minnick for all of his work at the pond.

“That work could not have been done without a dedicated leader. Rich is that guy,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

The selectmen presented Minnick with a plaque featuring a picture of Toby’s Pond and an official proclamation, thanking him for the hard work he has done.

“Rich has shown by example his love for his country, the town of Beacon Falls, and his family,” Selectman Dave D’Amico said, reading from the proclamation.

Minnick said that he could not have done it all alone.

“You can’t do it without the team and I have a great team,” Minnick said.