Eagle Scout projects enhance Kraus Park

Published 2:30 am Friday, August 29, 2003

By By Joy Noel Laurent
EDWARDSBURG -- His light brown, shaggy hair spilling from beneath his baseball cap, Life Scout Garrett Miller, 17, carries a bunch of twigs and brush from a clearing at Kraus Memorial Park in Edwardsburg. The recent Edwardsburg High School graduate, active in either Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts since the first grade, performed a community service as his final project towards Eagle Scout certification.
Garrett's plan included clearing a path through the woods to serve as a trail for visitors to the developing park. If time permits, he will also build a platform and bridge to complement the trail and enhance its use, all of which must be done by late next month. Sept. 27 marks Garrett's 18th birthday and the deadline for achieving Eagle Scout status.
Earlier this spring, Justin Stone, a fellow scout member, furnished the park with a double-sided bench placed near the playground for parents to rest on while watching their children climb the monkey bars and swing.
The bench came as a surprise gift said members of the Edwardsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, who with the Lions Club and Ontwa Township Board, have worked hard to develop the park, since the land was donated by Teresa Kaus and her family.
Another of Garrett's friends, Patrick Shelby, has plans for marking the boundaries of the park as part of his Eagle Scout project, which will benefit not only hikers and visitors, but also will be much appreciated by the park's neighbors.
Now, as Garrett sees his trail project coming together, he hopes his troop 593, led by Wade Erb, and other volunteers will continue the progress of the park and help to maintain what has already been done.
Garrett's final project fulfills the certification requirement that he must, "plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project." He has done exactly that.
One Saturday morning, more than 12 middle school and early high school Boy Scouts woke up early to brave the mosquitoes and help their comrade. Jeff Grover, 13, and his father, Larry, have made several appearances at the park, as Jeff states, "helping (Garrett) out with his Eagle project."
With rakes and saws in hand, Garrett's parents, Roger and Diane, eagerly support their son's effort, proud of his leadership abilities and all that he has learned through many years as a Boy Scout.
Garrett has been working closely with Ontwa Township trustee Jim Ralph, who serves as the contact person for the Boy Scouts. According to Garrett, Ralph left the project, "wide open," since the city "just wanted to get something going" in the park.
The Scouts and some of their parents have spent long hours clearing brush and low limbs along the trail and have even cleared a picnic area.
However, much is left to do and the summer days are quickly diminishing before Garrett leaves for college at Grand Valley State University, where he will study Mechanical Engineering.
Money must be raised for material to construct a bridge and people must be recruited for one more Saturday of work. Garrett may even need to devote his Labor Day weekend to the project, but he will finish.