Rifle range work detailed

March 19, 2014. Courtesy of The State Port Pilot. http://stateportpilot.com/

Caswell Beach

By Lee Hinnant
Staff Writer


Caswell Beach town commissioner Marti Harder (left) and volunteer Norma Eckard hold an original work of stained glass created by Hardy that will be sold during a fundraiser for preservation of the historic rifle pit. The Kentucky Derby-themed event is May 3 from 2:30 to 7 p.m. at Caswell Dunes. For more information, e-mail norma_lee@mindspring.com.

Volunteers laboring to save Caswell Beach’s historic World War I rifle range told town commissioners of a significant recent achievement and asked for support during the next phase of work.

The federal government formally named Fort Caswell and the associated rifle range at Caswell Beach to the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 2013.

“I can’t tell you how happy we were when that came through,” said Ron Eckard, who has spearheaded the rifle range preservation along with wife Norma. “It’s something to stand up and yell about.”

Eckard told Caswell Beach commissioners at their regular Thursday meeting that engineer Paul Shivers had agreed to donate his time for the next step, which is to remove trees pressing against the rifle pit walls and stabilize the structure which is nearly 100 years old. Previous efforts have cleaned and cleared debris from the rifle range, used to train soldiers in long-range marksmanship before they were sent abroad.

The stabilization study, final debris removal and cutting trees that threaten the structure will cost just over $10,000, Eckard said. The special interest group working on the project has about $400 and intends to raise another $1,000 to $1,500 this year, he said.

Although commissioners made no promises, mayor Harry Simmons noted the timing for any request for town funding is good, since the town is in the earliest pages of planning for the fiscal 2014-15 budget year, which begins July 1.

Supporters of the restoration effort are holding a Kentucky Derby-themed fundraiser on May 3 from 2:30 to 7 p.m. at the Caswell Dunes clubhouse. The event will include a dinner, tabletop horse races, door prizes and contests. For more information, e-mail ftcaswellriflerange@gmail.com.