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Eagle Scout candidate reflects on Berlin curb-painting project

10/31/13 | By Sheila R. Cherry, Associate Editor

BERLIN— When he began painting house numbers on the curbs in front of town residences to earn his Eagle Scout Badge, the biggest surprise for a 13-year-old Eagle Scout was “how big the town was,” he said.

Cole Norman now knows there are roughly 2,400 houses in Berlin.

Norman and 10 of his friends, age 11-15 years old, have painted the curbs in front of 1,500 of the 1,800 houses with curbs. They plan to complete the remaining 300 houses by the end of November, he said.

Perhaps not since Tom Sawyer has a band of friends been lured into a paint job with such an unanticipated twist, but Norman said it was something he really wanted to do.

“I always wanted to be a fire marshal,” he said, adding that the curbside house numbers help first responders easily see them in the event of an emergency. He decided to try the project in Berlin after seeing it online, he said.

He first proposed the project to Berlin Mayor Gee Williams and the Town Council at a meeting. That was the most daunting part of the project, he said.

“It was a little scary,” Norman said. “I was afraid they might say no.” But he also received a encouragement he received from Williams.

“He told me that I was going to make an impression on the community” and that an opportunity like that was very rare, Norman said. Apparently the memory of that comment stayed with him throughout the project.

Norman distributed flyers describing the project and asking homeowners for their permission to paint their curbs. Only five or six said “no,” he said.

The actual project consisted of two people holding the stencils and one applying the paint, first to paint a white square on the curb, then after it dried to center the house number in black paint on the white square. The total process take 10-15 minutes per house, Norman said.

Norman has been a member of Berlin Scout Troop 225, which has 54 registered scouts between age 10 and 18 years old in the Berlin and Ocean City area, for nearly four years. The troop is sponsored by Ocean City Elks Lodge #2645.

Norman has been a Life Scout for the past nine months. Before that, he spent seven months as a Star Scout, he said.

With the completion of the project, he will advance to Eagle Scout, he said. He added that he is already working toward trying to earn an Order of the Arrow rank, which is an honor scout designation.

The Boy Scouts of America is offering a service grant program for Life Scouts who are preparing to advance to Eagle Scout. The $100 grants are funded through Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation and pay for supplies, materials or services used for an Eagle Scout service project.

During 2012 more than 3,000 Scouts received $100 grants for their Eagle Scout service projects through the foundation, according to the BSA.

In early 2014, Norman hopes troop leaders will have reviewed his project and town officials will have signed off on it. After that, he will be eligible to receive his Eagle Scout Badge and pin at a ceremony usually conducted during either the spring or summer, he said.

Asked if he had received any feedback from the homeowners whose curbs had been painted, Norman said, “A lot of them said it was very good. They liked it.”

To other Life Scouts considering their own Eagle Scout projects, Norman advised, “Plan ahead and don’t give up. It’s worth it.”


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