FINCASTLE – The next step on Merritt Taylor’s scouting path is becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the organization.
For the last decade, the 16-year-old has been active in scouting, most recently with Troop 211 in Daleville. To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, Merritt must complete an extensive public service project he must plan, organize, lead and manage.
Rehabilitating the often-forgotten park behind the Fincastle Fire Station is Merritt’s project. The project is paid for by the Scout, so recently, the Fincastle resident held a car wash to raise money for the project, which raised $1,400 of the $2,000 he estimates he needs to complete the rehab project. Additional fundraisers are in the works.
“Any money left over will be donated to the fire department,” he said.
Merritt explained the idea to rehab the small park came after talking with Fincastle Town Manager David Tickner and the fire department.
Tickner explained rehabbing the park fits within the town’s wanting to provide more leisure and recreational activity for its citizens.
The project includes replacing light fixtures, mulching the area, replacing the boards on two picnic tables and constructing another two tables. He estimates the project completion date sometime in 2021.
One unexpected issue that Merritt ran into was a lack of treated lumber. “There was no treated lumber around,” he said. And the limited boards of treated lumber on the shelf were costly, he said.
COVID-19 not only created a shortage of toilet paper, Lysol products and meat, but wood products were also in short supply this summer. Pressure-treated wood became a hard-to-find commodity after major saw mills shuttered when the virus hit earlier this year. Lumber companies told The Wall Street Journal demand was up, because people had time to start on home improvement projects, but the supply wasn’t there.
According to Scouting.org, requirements to earn the rank of Eagle Scout are lengthy, including earning 21 merit badges, and must demonstrate Scout Spirit, by living the organization’s oath and law. If successful, Merritt will receive a medal and badge that visibly recognizes the Scout’s accomplishments, states the website. More than 2.5 million men have received the honor, including Steven Spielberg, Michael Bloomberg, Neil Armstrong, President Gerald Ford, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stephen Breyer, Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ray Suarez, of PBS News Hour.