By Cheryl Petersen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star
---- — Patriotic bagpipe music set the tone on Sunday to celebrate a completed 4-H project in the village of Walton.
Over the summer, with the assistance of volunteers, members of the Wild and Wooly Club had painted 14 fire hydrants throughout the village, each hydrant sporting a unique decorative image. After a potluck lunch and a venerable ceremony, a red/white/blue hydrant near the Walton Fire Department was unveiled.
“This hydrant honors the memory of those lost in 9/11,” said 4-H leader Greg Graupman. “It also honors all those who served a last call at the Walton Fire Department.”
The hydrant contains images of a firefighter hat, axe and boots.
“This was a cool project,” said Josh Coffey, 13. “My favorite image to paint was the fire flames on a hydrant near Main Street.”
Josh, and his brothers, Dakota and Dustin, were three of the 27 club members who painted the hydrants.
“It began late spring, when the kids had to ask the village of Walton, owners of the hydrants, for permission,” explained Greg Graupman to a crowd of over 70 people. “The Wild & Wooly members went to the board and were given approval as long as they also asked for permission from the Walton Fire Department.”
“The Fire Department not only gave the Wild and Wooly club permission but also paid for all the paint,” added Graupman.
“We sincerely appreciate Lara Fassler, the Walton Central School art teacher, who volunteered to assist the 4-H members with designs for each hydrant,” said Graupman.
Fassler received a bouquet of flowers at the ceremony.
“Each hydrant had to be wire brushed and primed before it could be painted,” said Graupman.
“Lara Fassler helped the kids design the images,” said Graupman. “Each hydrant has a unique image, mostly animals, but of course, they had to paint one hydrant showing their school spirit. The hydrant is orange and black with a Warrior head and the four sports symbols.”
The images were engineered to correspond with the nearby businesses. A sheep knitting its own wool sits near the yarn shop. Fruit decorate the hydrant near Big-M Grocer. A dog and cat embellish a hydrant near the veterinarian.
“I’ve been a 4-H leader for 24 years and this was the most significant project our club has undertaken,” said Graupman. “It pulled the Walton community together. As people watched the kids work all summer long, we all realized the positive impact was substantial.”
Graupman recalled a day when the kids were out painting in the hot sun.
“A car drove up and the window rolled down,” he said. “The driver handed us a $10 and told us to get the kids ice cream for doing such a great job.”
Walton Village Mayor Ed Snow spoke, telling the 4-H members, “You can be proud of this achievement. Over 3,000 vehicles pass the hydrants each day and they notice what you did.”
Mayor Snow, representing the village, handed each 4-H Club member a letter, stamped with the village seal, thanking them for their contribution to the community.
“A copy of the letter will also be sent to the school to be kept in your records.”
Walton Fire Chief Robert Brown told the kids, “Thank you for your hard work and dedication. We will try to keep them looking good.”
Bagpiper Steve Scanlan again played as participants observed the unveiled fire hydrant.