Scout receives key to cityPublished 9:49am Monday, August 10, 2009
By KATHIE HEMPEL
Niles Daily Star
The heat was sweltering for the first time this summer, but that did not stop a crowd of friends, family and other supporters from attending the unveiling dedication of the new Michigan Historical Marker at the Niles Depot.
They gathered to congratulate Scout Joseph Weiser on his persistence in raising the $3,350 to have the marker, describing the history of the railway to Niles and the depot itself, installed as a permanent record of the historic site.
Pastor Dan Greegor of Sumnerville Bible Baptist Church acted as Master of Ceremonies for the occasion. He described Weiser as “unassuming in demeanor but stalwart in his efforts.”
Weiser thanked the community; his former Assistant Scout Master, Duane Riley; the Four Flags Garden Club and his Scout Troop 555 of Huntley Baptist Church “without them I wouldn’t be here today.”
Four Flags Garden Club President Elaine Metzger presented Weiser with an album with which to record his journey. Weiser, in addition to being an outstanding Scout, is a photographer.
It was, however, Niles Mayor Mike McCauslin who made Weiser speechless when he called him back to the podium to receive the key to the city. “When we think of young people today we don’t always think in the most positive light,” the mayor said.
Representing the Michigan Historical Commission, to whom Weiser had to apply for the marker, Tom Truscott had just returned from dedicating a similar marker in Mackinaw as a historic icebreaker was retired. There too there had been talk of the importance of railways and trail blazers in our history.
“Markers are about the future, continuity, education and understanding. They build an appreciation for history so those in the past are connected to the future,” he said. “This is here because of all your hard work.”
Todd Virgil accepted the marker on behalf of Amtrak. While he couldn’t speak on behalf of the company, “personally I thought it was a nice idea to have the permanent historical marker. People really care about this building.”
Scout Master of Troop 555 Larry Hupp perhaps summarized it best.
“At first I didn’t really understand it. There was so much money to be raised. Scout’s Eagle projects are normally about overseeing construction and materials. This wasn’t that.
“At first some in the Scouting community questioned the viability of the project. However, the purpose of the Eagle Scout program is to show maturity, leadership and the ability of the Scout to make something happen. Certainly this fulfilled all those criteria. It’s great. Sometimes boys get bogged down in traditional forms of projects that will eventually fade away or break down. This one will remain.”
Maturity. Leadership. The ability to make something happen.
Joseph Weiser at 16 accomplished all this.