Students from Black Hawk College enhance Lake George Shoreline


October 28, 2019

Rock Island County Forest Preserve District partnered with Black Hawk College students to enhance the Lake George shoreline including providing more accessibility for Loud Thunder Forest Preserve guests.

Students in the Black Hawk College Highway Construction Careers Training Program (HCCTP) worked to bring the project to fruition. Rock Island County Forest Preserve has worked with HCCTP on several projects – including an ADA-accessible parking lot ramp and sidewalk at the Parchert-Martin Picnic Pavilion and a remodeled ADA-accessible bathroom. The Forest Preserve provides the materials needed to complete the project while the students put in the field-hours at no cost.
“The Forest Preserve is a good partner,“ said Paul Fessler, HCCTP program manager. “This project has been the work of three different classes of students – one each semester. It was a unique project requiring many different skills, so it was a fantastic experience for the students.“

The project began last fall when students began to work on a below-ground retaining wall designed to stabilize new concrete slabs. Water levels had to be kept low to complete the project. Whereas gravel was once used at the lake’s edge, a new flat, concrete ADA-accessible sidewalk now borders the lake.

The project reached completion in mid-October as the students completed the last 60 feet. A ribbon cutting to commemorate the shoreline enhancements is scheduled at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. The celebration will take place near Loud Thunder’s boat rental launch.

“This is a huge upgrade,“ said Ben Mills, ranger. “It’s beneficial to the public and all our park patrons. The gravel made it difficult for people with disabilities to get around. Also, every time a heavy rain occurred, we had to purchase tons of gravel to rebuild the shoreline. This changes all of that, and we’re thrilled to see this year-long project reach completion.“

Black Hawk College HCCTP students first learn in a classroom setting including blueprint reading, safety and other lessons. The second half of the three-month class is spent full-time in the field. After completing the course, students search for apprenticeships in building trades.

“The students do a phenomenal job,“ said Mills. “Their instructors are union tradesmen, so the end product is truly great. It’s always rewarding to see a big project come to fruition, and it has been a real pleasure to work with the HCCTP students over the years.“

The public is invited to a ribbon cutting to celebrate this collaboration and facility upgrades on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. Directions to the boat rental launch area at Loud Thunder are as follows.

From Andalusia Road (RT-92) from the East or West take Loud Thunder Road and proceed into the park, take the first left after you pass Lake George. Stay straight on the service road and follow the signs to boat rentals where parking will be available.

For more information on this project, contact Ben Mills, Loud Thunder head ranger, at 309-795-1040 or For more information about HCCTP – including information on upcoming classes – call Paul Fessler at 309-278-3285.

THANK YOU, HCCTP students and staff!