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Extreme Makeover: Idaho Swamp Edition

April 16, 2008

Cascade, ID – A smelly swamp near the town of Cascade has been turned into a community gem, thanks to students at the Cascade High School Advanced Research Lab. Fischer Pond had become a popular, albeit illegal, dumpsite over the years. Now, however, it is a fishing park for families and also is accessible to people with disabilities.

The transformation has earned the school a $10,000 prize for innovation, which will be presented by Jim Wordelman of AARP Idaho on Thursday. He says the new pond is something even tourists should check out.

"They can fish, they can have picnics, they can get in the water if they want to. Before, it was just a polluted mess."

The Cascade students also worked on ways to clean up the water in Cascade Reservoir, Wordelman adds. It has suffered from sewage pollution in recent years.

"They devised and developed a bio-reactor, taking out some of the undesirable elements and starting to make it much more environmentally safe."

For their efforts, the students are recipients of the "Ethel Percy Andrus Legacy Award for Innovation." It's part of AARP's "Generations Connecting for Change" celebration, a campaign marking the organization's 50th anniversary this year. The campaign encourages members of the younger generation to reach out in their communities to people of all ages.

Another campaign goal is for students to further their education. All 14 of the Cascade students say they plan to attend college; one has received an appointment to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ID