Jobs & Hope WV Partners with Contractors Association of West Virginia for Construction of All-Accessible Playground 

By: Matthew Holstein

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Participants from Jobs & Hope WV’s Heavy Equipment Operator Course, a partnership with the West Virginia Military Authority, collaborated with The Contractors Association of West Virginia (CAWV), March-Westin Company, Wolfe’s Excavating LLC, Reclaim Company, LLC and The Young Contractors Forum to begin the first phase of building an all-accessible playground for people of all ages and abilities at SteppingStones Recreation in Mylan Park, Morgantown, West Virginia.   

SteppingStones is a non-profit organization that offers year-round recreation for children and adults with disabilities. The all-accessible playground was designed before the pandemic, but the project was put on hold due to COVID. On Friday, June 16th, the project finally started, with Jobs & Hope WV trainees getting practical training in heavy equipment, clearing the existing area with several horseshoe pits, old fencing, and gravel areas that needed grading and leveling.  

The community project allowed the Heavy Equipment Operator course trainees to apply their skills in a “real world” project instead of just a classroom or training site. The trainees also got to network with and showcase their talents in operating heavy equipment to potential employers who were present.   

Ryan Schostag, a Jobs & Hope WV Heavy Equipment Operator participant, expressed his gratitude and excitement for the opportunity to help the community and use heavy equipment in a real-world setting. He said, “It was an amazing experience to work with the CAWV, March-Westin, Wolfe Excavating, and The Young Contractors Forum and to meet such great people from the industry. I got to operate some equipment I had never used before, which added to my training and prepared me for the workforce.” Schostag added, “I appreciate the Jobs & Hope WV program and all the partners who made this possible and gave us a chance to improve ourselves and serve the community.” Concluded Schostag.   

The community project was led by March-Westin Company, Inc., collaborating with other CAWV members from the Morgantown area. Reclaim Company, LLC, and Wolfe’s Excavating, LLC provided the equipment and the hands-on instruction.   

Patrick Garcia, project manager for March-Westin, spoke on everyone’s collaboration on the demolition.   

“The demolition was our way to one, shed light on those programs, Jobs & Hope WV, CAWV, and The Young Contractors Forum. That was an easy way for us to give back to SteppingStones, help them tackle phase, and move on to phase two, which is building the playground,” said Garcia.   


The demolition of phase one will enable SteppingStones Recreation to construct a future playground at the project site for the enjoyment of children and adults in the Morgantown community. SteppingStone plans to start building the playground in Spring of 2024.”   

Jobs & Hope West Virginia Heavy Equipment Operator course is a 214-hour training course completed in 28 days, with participants living and training on the WVNG’s Camp Dawson in Kingwood, West Virginia. The most recent class graduated on July 1st, 2023, with Ryan Schostag, Alexander Salazar, Wesley Williams, Robert Hamman, James Briscoe, Phillip Strickland, Roy Moats, Bobby Burchett, and Joey Rigsby receiving their certifications, ready to enter the workforce!

The Contractors Association of West Virginia, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023, represents over 475 businesses in the highway, utility, and building contracting industry throughout West Virginia.   

Jobs & Hope West Virginia is the state’s comprehensive response to the substance use disorder crisis. Established by Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Legislature, this program offers support through a statewide collaboration of agencies that provide West Virginians in recovery the opportunity to obtain career training and ultimately secure meaningful employment. 

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