By Douglas Maxwell Myer, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Five Scouts from Westborough Troop 382 have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout – Daniel McKay, Shawn McElligott, Tim Askew, Robert Stout and John O’Connell. McKay, McElligott and Stout are all seniors at Westborough High School (WHS), while Askew is a junior and O’Connell a sophomore.
Each Scout completed the necessary requirements, including earning a total of 21 merit badges, actively serving in a leadership position within the troop for six months, and completing a service project that would benefit the community.
McKay’s Eagle project was to remove invasive species, such as honeysuckle, from the Bowman Conservation Area which is part of the Westborough Community Land Trust. These species had overrun the area and could have grown over local plants if left uncontrolled. The goal of the project was to push them back 10 feet from the existing perimeter. By doing this, McKay was able to help maintain the balance of a local ecosystem and people in the community can enjoy the land in its natural state.
“I appreciate the opportunity to lead the volunteers from my troop who attended my work
sessions even when it was raining,” noted McKay. “That made the project go smoothly.”
McElligott made improvements on a portion of the Blue Flag Trail, part of the Charm Bracelet Trail System. He guided other Scouts to clear overgrown brush and sawing a few branches from a tree that blocked this path. New bog bridges were constructed to replace old ones that went over a particular section of the trail. Each bridge consisted of three 16-foot planks that had to be carried 3/8-mile to reach the path.
“That was the most difficult part of the project and it was very rewarding when all the planks were transported to the proper location,” said McElligott.
Askew’s project was to build and install 29 stairs along the Westborough Charm Bracelet Trail near Sandra Pond along a very steep section of trail. The stairs helped improve safety for people using the path.
“After ordering the materials, I supervised cutting the wood into the appropriate lengths, staining the wood and assembling each of the steps with help from other people,” Askew
The stairs were then dry-fit along the trail and secured into the ground with rebar. Their last task was backfilling each step with soil. The entire project took 120 hours of work with 26 volunteers.
Stout was inspired to do his Eagle Project based on an experience he had at age 14 helping an older Scout with his community service project. He and 10 other Scouts painted Westborough’s storm drains with the message: “Dump no waste, Drains to Wetland.” The water in storm drains flows back into wetlands, rivers, lakes and ponds, then to the local watershed. The message is intended to prevent residents from dumping animal or chemical waste down storm drains which affects the ecosystem.
The Westborough Department of Public Works provided materials for Robert’s project, such as stencils and safety vests.
“Aside from a few strange looks and some paint covered shorts, we made out alright,” said Stout. “I actually had to call the police beforehand to make sure they knew what we were doing in case anyone called in.”
O’Connell worked with the Community Land Trust on a trail off of Adams Street that needed to be rebuilt on higher ground. The town had installed a drainage pipe that released all its water on the existing trail, making it very muddy at times and contributed to its erosion. Together they mapped out potential routes decided on the best one. While forging the new trail, a large fallen tree had to be removed with a chainsaw; a great muddy swath of land required a bog bridge to be built; and a steep section of the new route needed some steps.
“I had to clear away large amounts of brush and had to get rid of the topsoil of where my trail was going to be so that plants would not grow back,” noted O’Connell.
The new trail ended up being about 0.1 miles long but it was in much better shape than the preexisting one.
Each of the boys appreciated the coaching and guidance from their troop leader, Mark O’Connell. All five attended a Scoutmaster’s conference and Board of Review before officially making the distinguished rank of Eagle.
Following graduation, McKay will be going to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, McElligot to Bryant University, and Stout to the University of Michigan. Askew and O’Connell said they will continue to balance Scouting with their other interests and explore how best to contribute to the troop as Eagle Scouts.