Jefferson Park in Blaine has a new picnic shelter thanks to an up-and-coming Eagle Scout.
David Ries,16, Blaine resident and sophomore at Blaine High School, raised funds and oversaw the building of the leadership service project as part of attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.
David is a member of Boy Scout Troop 513, which meets at Peace Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids.
The shelter, located at 12833 Jefferson St., took 440 hours to build, with the help of 10 to 15 volunteer workers, mostly family, friends and scouts.
“It felt good just to stand back, look at it and say ‘I did that,’” David said when the project was completed.
Planning for the project started August 2011. The shelter was finished the beginning of this month.
David estimates he put 80 hours into heading the project.
“He’ll find it fulfilling to start a project with virtually nothing and then giving back to a community that has given so much to him,” said his Scout Master, Dean Krueger, days before the project was slated to start.
The shelter is intended to give nearby cyclists or joggers shelter if they get caught in a rain storm. It will provide seating for parents while their children play on the nearby playground and it will be a “good eating area” for events, including sporting events, David wrote in his project benefit description.
“It will also contribute to the overall scenery for the park, for it is widely used and it’ll be a huge convenience,” David wrote.
David managed the project from start to finish. He designed the shelter, sought donations and funds for materials and rounded up and scheduled volunteer workers to build it. That included overseeing the digging of footings and laying a concrete slab of about 12 by 20 feet for the shelter.
Before starting the project, he went before the Blaine Park Board to seek approval.
“It was exciting,” David said. “That’s what being an Eagle Scout is all about – learning how to face things in the real world.”
Earlier this spring, David went before Blaine City Council to ask for final approval of the project.
Other than speaking skills, what did David learn from the experience?
First of all, he learned the old proverbial, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know, he said.
In short, Cemstone donated the concrete (David sent a letter requesting donations to his uncle’s work place) and Certainteed donated shingles (another uncle works there). Also, the Ham Lake Lion’s Club donated funds (his barber belongs to the club). Other donations came from the Blaine Spring Lake Park Athletic Association, Spectrum Tool and Plastics and Cub Scout Pack 412 out of Johnsville Elementary. (David attended Johnsville Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School.)
In total David, who has been a scout for nine years, raised about $1,500 for the project, a majority of the funds in donations.
David also learned something else in managing the project. “I have to be extremely flexible and work with other people’s schedules,” he said.
Scout Master Krueger describes David as outgoing, respectful and a hard worker, someone who often puts others first. He is one to take the initiative. David sets a great example for the younger boys in the troop, he said.
In inclement weather during an outing, for instance, David will be the first to start singing or start a game around a campfire for the other boys.
Krueger said working on the project taught David building skills, applying math skills to building and how to read blueprints.
So far, scouts have completed about 25 Eagle Scout projects throughout Blaine. Park benches, planters, a reconditioned hockey board at Happy Acres Park, to name a few, said Jim Kappelhoff, Blaine’s park and recreation director.
David gets a great deal of knowledge in constructing the large project, Kappelhoff said.
“To provide this back to the community means a lot,” he said.
Said David: “It’s been a great experience to learn and to demonstrate skills that an individual has through the scouting program.”
Elyse Kaner is at firstname.lastname@example.org