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Watertown Scout constructs benches at school tennis court for badge and community

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WATERTOWN — A Watertown High School sophomore decided to use a Boy Scout merit badge challenge to benefit the school and the community by providing a new path and new benches around the high school tennis courts.

“I thought the school would be a good nonprofit to do a project for,” said Joshua H. Elmer, 16. He said not only do members of the school use the tennis courts, but many members of the community do too. “I knew my project would be well used,” he said.

To earn his Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America, Joshua solicited donations from area businesses and recruited friends from the high school tennis team and Boy Scout Troop 33 to help construct the two benches and lay down the new limestone path. Joshua said with the help of more than 25 volunteers, he was able to complete the project in less than three weeks in April.

Board of Education President Cynthia H. Bufalini said, “What a nice legacy you are leaving behind.”

Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said that when Joshua first came to him and the board with the idea, a project around the tennis courts was not on the minds of board members.

“He had a great idea and he brought it to fruition,” Mr. Fralick said. “We had left-over benches from a project that was completed over a decade ago, so we were able to put them to good use.”

Mr. Fralick said the project has made the area around the tennis courts more aesthetically pleasing and welcoming.

“They’ll be a great advantage for families who want to watch the tennis matches,” Mr. Fralick said. “It’s a tremendous improvement.”

Joshua said Boy Scouts cannot accept money for projects; instead, various community businesses provided the necessary tools for completing the construction, such as wheelbarrows, concrete, more than nine tons of limestone and the benches.

Contributing businesses included Metal Man Service, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Stratton Hardware, Brookfield Renewable Power, Ace True Value Hardware, Desormo Excavation, Vespa Sand and Stone, Home Depot and Seaway Rental Corp.

“I am a member of the tennis team. Everyone always had to sit on the wet ground,” Joshua said. “The benches will give a nice, dry place to sit.”

Joshua said the path that led from the parking lot to the field was also disheveled. He decided the path with new limestone that extended all the way down to the courts would be part of the project.

Joshua said he couldn’t have completed the project without the help of the Board of Education, his Boy Scout troop, members of the Watertown City School District and volunteers from the tennis team and contributions from local businesses.

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