Berlin Central School District held a dedication ceremony on August 21, for the new trail head behind the former Grafton Elementary School building. Several district employees, current and former board members, scouts and community members were in attendance on the beautiful Sunday afternoon.

This project has been in the works for several years and led by Scout Troop 222 of Grafton.

The newly named Abel Owen Trail will connect the school’s land to State land. As Board of Education President Frank Zwack described it, the project is an opportunity to preserve public green space for generations to come.

Abel Owen was a colonist and Revolutionary War soldier. He is believed to have received a 200-acre land grant after the war. Grafton is located within this grant. In exchange for the land, Owen built a road from Troy to Williamstown.

Visitors can find out more about Abel Owen when they stop at the new Grafton Nature Trail parking lot and information kiosk built by the Scout troop at 13 Babcock Lake Road in Cropseyville.

Berlin CSD Superintendent Mr. Joseph Dhara, Scout Eli Gorman, Scoutmaster Mr. Andy Zlotnick, Board of Education President Zwack and Superintendent of Buildings Mr. Cyril Grant all said a few words.

Mr. Dhara spoke to the commitment BCSD has to preserving this green space for the community and thanked Rensselaer County and Mr. Thomas Withcuskey for hosting and supporting the efforts of the Scouts. Mr. Grant let those in attendance (especially the Scouts) know the district’s Buildings and Grounds Department is committed to supporting the maintenance of the new parking area.

Scout Eli Gorman spoke of the work and craftsmanship the Scouts put in to building the new information kiosk.

Scoutmaster Zlotnick spoke about the dedication to this project of many people over the years. Read more below about his thanks to all who pitched in to complete the project.

The Grafton Nature Trail was a long-term commitment undertaken by the Scouts to better our communities. Many long hours of work went into the trail over the last two years; cutting the trail, marking it, and building the map kiosk on the parking area to help direct visitors to the trail.


Working on this project the scouts learned many new skills and honed others, following the rules of the Scouts of America and the “Leave no trace principles”. The scouts learned about planning, developing a time line, purchasing building materials, following a plan, working as a team, what tools they would need and how to use them – and how this all benefits their community.


The Scoutmaster thanked the following:

William Seel – chainsaw work;

Thomas Withcuskey, owner of Roxbury Holdings, for hosting the scouts;

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin and the County Highway Department, who contributed ground work for the parking area;

Boy Scouts from Troop 222, Grafton: Eli Gorman, Christopher June, Owen Lowry, and Nate Mace;

Adults: Don Lowry, James Gorman, Joan Zlotnick, Wade Prather, Andrew Zlotnick, and Kathy Prather;

Former Scouts: Michael Zlotnick, Trever Hall, Justin Hall, Codie Lane, Alex Chrisikos, Liam Lowry, Anthony Prather, William Prather, and Joshua Zlotnick.

BCSD looks forward to seeing the community enjoying the beauty that the woods of Grafton have to offer and learning from the information the Scouts share in their information kiosk.