By J. L. Shively
Mt. Olive Boy Scout John Bigger has set out to achieve the highest honor in scouts, his Eagle Award, by creating a sustainable project built along with and for the community.
A sophomore at Mt. Olive High School, Bigger has been an active member of Boy Scout Troop 312 for the last five years.
The plans for Bigger’s project is to construct a 12 foot wooden gazebo outside of the Mt. Olive Public Library.
The idea for this project came about after a discussion with a family friend, Rhonda Cohen, who is also the bookkeeper at the Mt. Olive Library. Cohen had mentioned to Bigger that there was really no comfortable spot to sit outside to enjoy a book.
Although there are benches, Bigger explains, they were looking for something “with more of an aesthetic look to it.” Therefore the idea for the construction of a gazebo was put forth.
“We are very excited about the gazebo,” states Cohen. “A lot of time, on my work breaks, I’ll go outside.” The gazebo, Cohen explains, will be a beautiful addition to a beautiful building and will really “add a lot to the landscape” while also being a great place for the community and the staff to enjoy the outdoors.
The first step to initiating this project was to present the plan to the library.
“I initially met with Mrs. Rhonda Cohen but ultimately I got approval from the library’s Director Mauro Magarelli and the Board of Trustees,” says Bigger.
Once he had the nod of approval, Bigger had to get an idea of how much the gazebo would cost and where he would acquire it. After a trip to Amish Mike’s, an Amish Building and Design Store in Hackettstown, Bigger was able to decide on the design and price of the gazebo.
The gazebo is offered in a kit that can be purchased at the store and needs to be assembled on site. The overall cost for the gazebo is $2,250. This cost includes the cost of the kit, stain, wood to construct benches inside the gazebo, the foundation and a garden which is planned for around the site.
Bigger plans to raise the funds for the gazebo throughout the winter, mainly through his GoFundMe page which can be found at www.gofundme.com/2nrz4z8.
Another step which Bigger had to take the lead on was acquiring the zoning and building permits he would need to construct the gazebo on the chosen site. For this step Bigger had to go to the township building and fill out the necessary forms to show where the gazebo would be built and the dimensions.
Approval for the building and zoning permit was received by the town on Oct. 4, giving Bigger the definite green light for his project.
The plans for this gazebo will include not only the construction of the gazebo but benches crafted to fit inside the gazebo as well as a small garden which will surround the site. Bigger plans to enlist the help of his fellow troop members when the actual construction begins.
Ultimately, the construction start date will depend on fundraising but as of right now Bigger plans on breaking ground in Spring 2017.
“In the meantime I need the community’s support to fund the project,” says Bigger.
So far Bigger has put 17 hours into the planning stages of the project but, he insists, the project is “Not about the hours.” A Eagle Project is about “the project itself and helping the community and getting other scouts involved,” explains Bigger.
On what inspired Bigger to attain his Eagle Award he explains, “My grandfather was an Eagle Scout. It was always interesting to hear what he did to achieve that rank.”
Overall, in the Scouts, Bigger explains “I have learned a lot too. I have learned about leadership and learned things I never would have known.”
For this project Bigger looks forward to using the knowledge he has acquired over his years in scouts.
“I am excited and I look forward to apply my leadership skills to organize the scout from my troop to help me build this gazebo.”