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Eagle Scout candidate reflects on Berlin curb-painting project

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.”