USCL's new picnic shelter named after Rotaract Club

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Result of community effort

By Michele Roberts

Michele Roberts
For The Lancaster News


USCL’s Rotaract Club held a meeting recently at a newly constructed picnic shelter on the grounds of the University of South Carolina Lancaster, behind the Gregory Health and Wellness Center.

The shelter was the result of a great deal of community effort, said Professor Robert Collins, instructor of Economics at USCL.

“The space where the picnic shelter sits used to be an outdoor basketball court,” he said. “One day a couple of years ago I was talking to Dean [John] Catalano and he said he was planning to take it down, and it would be nice to have a picnic shelter there instead.”

Collins, who worked with the Boy Scouts in the past, said a great opportunity to make the shelter a reality came their way when T. McWhirter, who passed away last year, purchased Ellison House.

 A log cabin sat on the back of the property and he wanted to donate it to the Boy Scouts.

“I told him about what we were thinking of doing concerning the shelter and asked him would he be willing to donate it to USCL instead,” Collins said. “He said he would be glad to, but as we got more involved in it, we realized that it was just going to be too complicated to move it. Mike Sistare wound up getting it instead, so we set about raising some money through the Lancaster Rotary Club and the Lancaster Breakfast Rotary Club and local Boy Scout supporters.”

Collins said aside from the monetary donations, local businesses were generous in their support to get the shelter built. Mark Johnson donated the concrete and Jeff Higgins at Porter Belk donated building materials.

Max Melton with YouthBuild was involved in the project, Collins said, and YouthBuild actually handled the construction of the shelter.

The stone fireplace inside the shelter was built by Furman Marshall as an Eagle scout project.

“In the end, we were able to get a $30,000 picnic shelter built for about $6,000,” Collins said. “And it really is a very nice structure, a great facility. There is another 60 x 30 concrete pad near the shelter, and the school has a large 20 x 20 tent, so this has the potential to be something really nice here on campus. Bob Bundy is working on making some trails through the woods back toward Highway 521, so I think this is going to be something great when we’re done.”

The USCL Educational Foundation agreed to name the shelter for the Rotaract Club because of the hard work the club put into getting the shelter built.

USCL faculty advisors for the club are Stan Emanuel, Phillip Parker and Danielle Faulkenberry. Collins said he is now retired from Rotaract.

“It’s good to kind of sit back and watch them handle things,” he said. “But they’re doing a great job and the club is in very capable hands.”

The USCL Rotaract Club is part of a worldwide service organization affiliated with Rotary International.

The club has been at USCL since 2000.