Out­door Sports Per­son of the Year awarded for clean up ef­forts at Kaercher Creek

Tim Mazaika, Tilden Town­ship, mowed creek banks to clear paths for fish­ing spots

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - LOCAL NEWS - By Kolleen Long For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Tilden Town­ship res­i­dent Tim Mazaika hauled his mower to the banks of Kaercher Creek four years ago with a sim­ple motive: clear­ing fish­ing spots at the pop­u­lar lo­ca­tion east of Ham­burg.

For his con­tin­ued work clear­ing banks and path­ways, along with ef­forts to re­cruit vol­un­teers to do the same, Mazaika was named the 2018 Berks County Out­door Sports Per­son of the Year. The award was given dur­ing the Fed­er­ated Sports­men’s Clubs of Berks County Din­ner held April 14 at the Vir­ginville Grange.

“I’m just a guy out there cut­ting grass. It was quite an honor to be rec­og­nized,” said Mazaika who lives about four miles from Kaercher Creek.

Mazaika es­ti­mates work­ing 500 vol­un­teer hours, gen­er­ally in three to four hour stretches, over the past four years. Oth­ers have joined the ef­fort, in­clud­ing dur­ing a spring clean-up day in Ham­burg, held over Earth Day week­end in April, and Make a Dif­fer­ence Day in the fall.

“I’m out front on this, but it’s not just an award for me. It’s for all the peo­ple who have come out and helped, all the peo­ple who have do­nated, it’s for them, too. They are all part of it,” he said.

Born and raised in Ham­burg, Mazaika has fished at Kaercher Creek his whole life.

“When the county gave up the lease in 2014, the grasses took over and the place re­ally went wild,” he re­called. “You could get in, but it was very dif­fi­cult to get to the shore line to fish be­cause the grass was so high. You had to worry about pick­ing up ticks or step­ping on snakes or in holes. It re­ally wasn’t safe.”

The en­tire prop­erty is owned by the Fish and Game Com­mis­sion, but the com­mis­sion only main­tains the launch area side. When Berks County gave up their park lease, that side was no longer main­tained.

So Mazaika de­cided to do some­thing. He took his per­sonal push mower over to the site that first year and cleared a spot on the bank. He didn’t have a weed wacker, so he used sim­ple tools like rakes and scythes to tackle high grasses.

“It was a self­ish start,” he ad­mit­ted to the ban­quet au­di­ence, “but I couldn’t ac­cess my fa­vorite fish­ing bank and I saw oth­ers in the same sit­u­a­tion.”

Mazaika kept go­ing back, widen­ing the clear­ing up and down the shore line. He be­gan clear­ing path­ways to make them ac­ces­si­ble.

“I had a buddy who came out with his chain­saw. We got a per­mit from the state to do it and we spent many evenings cut­ting this tree into man­age­able pieces to clear out.”

All vol­un­teers sign a waiver to be al­lowed to work on the com­mis­sionowned prop­erty. Mazaika hopes the com­mis­sion will al­low him to open a gate which closes off ac­cess to the prop­erty. This, he said, will make it much eas­ier to haul in mowers and other equip­ment. Un­til then, he must haul each piece down a steep bank.

His vol­un­teer work has co­in­cided with his full­time task of car­ing for his mother, who was di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s a decade ago. His mother died in 2017. Mazaika ded­i­cated the Sports Per­son of the Year Award to his mother at the ban­quet. He noted she was an ac­tive and life­long vol­un­teer. He also high­lighted the work of fel­low vol­un­teer, Nan Har­rigle, who lives near Kutz­town.

The Berks County Out­door Sports Per­son of the Year is given jointly by the Fed­er­ated Sports­men’s Club and the WEEU AM 830’s A Great Day Out­doors Show. Hosts Roger Mal­lon and Bob Entler were in at­ten­dance and gave Mazaika the cer­tifi­cate.

“This is the story of how one man cre­ated a move­ment,” Entler said. “He saw some­thing that needed do­ing, started do­ing it and peo­ple started see­ing him do it.”

Mazaika will con­tinue his ef­forts to keep the park­side of Kaercher Creek us­able for an­glers on the bank and those wish­ing to walk the paths.

For more in­for­ma­tion or to vol­un­teer, visit www. face­book.com/Friend­sofKaercherCreek.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Vol­un­teers joined Friends of Kaercher Creek, led by Tim Mazaika of Tilden Town­ship, for a Make A Dif­fer­ence Day clean up event in Oc­to­ber 2017 to cut grass, clear paths and clean up trash at Kaercher Creek in Ham­burg. A spring clean up was also held...

KOLLEEN LONG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Tim Mazaika, Tilden Town­ship, was named 2018 Berks County Out­door Sports Per­son of the Year by the Fed­er­ated Sports­men’s Clubs of Berks County and WEEU’s A Great Day Out­doors dur­ing an April 14 din­ner at Vir­ginville Grange. He was rec­og­nized for...

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