A project worthy of Eagle Merit… Local life scout leads project to enhance Veterans Memorial

Published 12:21 am Tuesday, April 20, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Nearing his final steps in becoming an Eagle Scout, life scout Kaleb Pollitt had little trouble in finding the right project to complete to earn the revered level in scouting.

One might say that the project actually came looking for him as he was approached by Michael Warren of the Elizabethton VFW with a project that involved providing a better solution to protecting and enhancing the area around the Veterans Memorial in downtown Elizabethton.

The project involved digging up the grass around the monument area which has been blown onto the monuments when the area is mowed and placing gravel around the area to prevent having to mow and weed eat.

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“It’s really special just knowing one of the VFW members wanted me to come down here and work on a monument meant for Veterans,” said Pollitt. “He really wanted it to get done and he knew I was going for my Eagle Project so he just came up to me and asked me how I would like to do this which was really amazing.

“The boys know this is important to me but not only me but the whole city.”

“We met down here in January and decided to originally put a fence up but that didn’t get approved, so we decided to gravel the area so it would look nicer for one and make sure the gravels didn’t come out.,” said Ricki Dykes – Scoutmaster of Troop 516 in Elizabethton.

“While we were planning, Michael also said they needed new flags so we decided to have a formal flag ceremony. This is a big step because Kaleb is 14 and already has 65 or so Merit Badges so this is his last step before becoming an Eagle Scout.”

Dykes said that once the project is finished and reviewed, there will be a board of review and then Pollitt will become an Eagle Scout. She added that Pollitt had to have 13 Eagle Scout Merit Badges which is Eagle-required.

Then he had to have an elective as well. Once obtaining those Merit Badges and completing the project as a Life Scout, that qualifies you for your Eagle.

Completing a service project is one of the final steps as it fulfills a part of the scout’s creed.

“In scouting, we like to say cheerful service and showing them the importance of, especially community and not only community but self,” said Dykes. “Doing duty to God, community, service to themselves is part of the scout motto.

“In all of that, it teaches them to be humble as well. We have a good group of boys who pride themselves on service work. We have this many turn out at each Eagle Project. I always tell them that if you want help at your Eagle Project, you had better come out and help.

“We have a total of 27 boys and a majority of them out today.”

Troop 516 has five Eagle Scouts in their troop. There are nine life scouts and seven of them are actively working on Eagle Projects according to Dykes who is extremely proud of her troop.

In a year that has been trying due to the COVID pandemic, Dykes said the boys have stuck together during the challenging period.

“We have had a trialed year working through COVID. We have had some virtual meetings but the boys have stuck with us,” Dykes added.

“Boys still worked during COVID. We would meet virtually, meet again live, and then meet again virtually but we got it done. We had a big Merit Badge day on January 30th in person and we have been meeting ever since.

“It’s just very productive for them and they get a sense of pride and a sense of community and it builds future leaders and success.”

Dykes said there is nothing like scouting for young boys because it offers a special opportunity that these boys can’t get anywhere else.

“There is no other place that you can get 136 advocations or vocations to get an idea,” Dykes emphasized. “It’s not like the total course but it is because it is an introduction to everything.

“It gives the boys a sense of, “Hey, I like to do this,”. My son is an Eagle Scout and he was in his Chemistry Merit Badge and now he is a Chemical Engineer and he went to Cal Tech.

“Scouting meant a lot in his life. It’s something that gives the boys purpose. I think it’s very important for our community because it’s small and a lot of people don’t branch out.

“But hopefully, they will branch out and come back to serve their community.”