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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Friendly Neighbors

A pair of brothers builds bat boxes and inspires a fundraiser.

Heatherly Hite’s sons Declan Rattray, 11, and Quade Rattray, 9, love to spend time outdoors with their friends, but a common pest was sucking the fun out of it.

“The mosquitoes are so bad, we were kind of sick of it,” Hite, owner and senior agent at Insurance Connect, says of the Riverside Historic District home they settled in two years ago.

Enter bat boxes, which give the winged mammals a home that is an alternative to taking shelter in a house, garage, or shed. Since bats feast on insects, the boxes also aid with pest control.

This winter, Hite presented the idea of bat boxes to her sons’ homeschool teacher, Jennifer Roberts, whose husband, Chris Smearing, helped the brothers build the boxes as a school project. This piqued the interest of the Old Evansville Historic Association, which adopted the boxes as a fundraiser.

“We didn’t intend on this being a fundraiser,” Hite says. “We just needed something for the bats.”

It takes the brothers 90 minutes to build each wooden platform and a week to construct an entire 31-inch-by-18-inch box using materials supplied by Smearing. Their favorite part, though, is painting. Smearing plans to begin installation this spring. Hites’ sons will split the funds raised with OEHA. The boys already have four orders, including one slated for Sunset Park, but Declan hopes to sell at least 25.

“I’d like to see bat boxes all around. If we could have them all along this street, that would be great,” he says.

Bat boxes through the OEHA fundraiser cost $100, with installation an additional $25. Place your order by texting or calling Heatherly Hite at 206-790-0827. A $50 deposit is due at the time of each order.

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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