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Eagle Scout finds animals a home

Connie Steiert
Special to the DailyThe finished Eagle Scout project includes holding pens and a training area.
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GYPSUM – They have a home, again; those woolly, gray-and-black faces, and the triangular ones with fore-shortened horns are a mite happier today, as they nuzzle around their new home.The three sheep and three goats have actually been exploring their new home for a few week now, but their shiny new pens at the old Echo Ranch were officially dedicated May 14. Boy Scout Zeb Maloney, these four-legged creatures’ benefactor, cut the bright green ribbon leading to their brand new trading paddock and declared the Eagle Scout project complete … almost.Maloney, 14, came up with the idea of turning a portion of the county-owned, former Echo Ranch property into a new home for the displaced animals after the red barn at the county fairgrounds was purposely burnt down last fall.Since that time, he and dozens of fellow scouts, 4-H members, community volunteers and his parents and others have put in more 900 hours into the project.

“It’s good,” said Maloney, an eighth-grader at Gypsum Creek Middle School, as he surveyed his project. “I like how the animals are all here, now. It was fun. I learned a lot of stuff.” He mentions the construction talents he’s acquired, along with a rudimentary knowledge of electrical wiring.Fun it may have been, but it was not easy. There were mounds of trash and debris, accumulated over the years that had to be collected and removed, and old sheds and chutes to tear down before they could even begin to build the new facility.Today, the weathered and dilapidated old sheds and chutes are gone, and three shiny new, beige blocks of sheds sit in their place, with adequate shelter and attached, fenced-in yards. The eastern block of sheds currently houses the goats and sheep, and the two, western-most sheds will soon house more goats and some pigs as well. In between, is a gated training yard where the 4-H youngsters can make sure their barnyard friends are ready for the next competition.

Young Brianna Sandoval was visited her newly acquired sheep, “sheep No. 506,” on a recent Saturday. “I think they did a really good job. I’m proud of what they did for 4-H,” said Sandoval, who is a member of one of the three families with animals currently at the new facility.In addition to the volunteers, there were others who donated materials and funds to make the project possible. The Eagle County Fair Board donated nearly $5,000; the local Rotary Club donated $750; and individuals have chipped in $165. The project cost $5,378, and the $500 left over will be used to purchase storage sheds.On hand to help Maloney cut the ribbon were Commissioner Tom Stone and the local 4-H agent Jenny Wood. Maloney thanked each of his fellow ribbon cutters for their support in the project.

“And, I thank my dad, since he helped me build it,” Maloney said in his short, ceremonial speech. Brian Maloney is also Zeb’s Scoutmaster in Troop 231.The Eagle County Commissioners and the Eagle County Fair Board had to approve the project before Maloney could start. Stone helped push to get the water flowing at the pump and the concrete washing-and-grooming area, and he helped move one of the sheds, Maloney said. “I think this is awesome,” Stone said. “I had hoped this would be done for years.” But there are still some feed shoots to be built, Maloney said, and, Stone added, the county should make more improvements to the rest of the old Echo Ranch.”I’d like to see that the barn is architecturally safe to use,” Stone said.

But, by and large, Maloney can sit back, now, and smile with pride at a job well done. He won’t find out until this summer if all his hard work, and that of his fellow volunteers, will earn him his coveted Eagle Scout Badge. But, just looking around at the neat, well-built facility and the happy faces – human and woolly – it’s a pretty safe bet he will.”The good thing about it is that it is for a wonderful cause and it was his (Zeb’s) idea,” said Ken Jones, father of Boy Scout Michael Jones, who was one of the Scouts helping Maloney build the project.Vail, Colorado


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