When Milaca Boy Scout Troop 19 member Danny Benolken heard about how the walking bridge project had affected the east entrance to the Forest Hill Cemetery, he thought it would make the perfect Eagle Scout project.
With a little guidance from his assistant scoutmaster and Forest Hill Board Member Rich Mycue, Benolken finished the improvements the week of Sept. 15.
“Apparently, (Mycue) was really pleased with it,” Benolken said. “He was surprised I was able to remove that plaque because there was like three or four feet of cement under it.”
That plaque is the memorial for the late Milaca civic leaders Charlie and Karen Reineke. It once stood beneath a large tree at the west side of the walking bridge. When the new bridge spanning the Rum River was installed earlier this summer, the tree was removed and left the plaque looking out of place.
“I moved it to where the new trail will meet the bridge,” Benolken said. “And I cleaned up some benches.”
The two cement benches face each other near the bank of the river. Benolken removed grass and other plant life that had begun to grow over the benches and nearby sidewalk and gave the seats a fresh look with a new coat of white paint.
As a member of the Boy Scouts since the fifth grade, Benolken had been working toward earning his Eagle badge for more than seven years.
“I’m impressed,” said his mom, Darcy. “He’s worked really hard for this.”
One of the requirements for earning the most prestigious honor the organization has to offer is to be a leader on a community project. The work Benolken completed at the Forest Hill Cemetery certainly qualifies.
“I did the planning and coordinating,” he said. “I just made it happen. That felt pretty good.”
Benolken plans to put his hard work ethic to use as a diesel mechanic, a pursuit he feels confident about.
“I like working with my hands,” he said. “I like seeing the results. I’m pretty good at fixing things.”
Some of those values he attributes to his years in Boy Scouts.
“I like helping the community. It’s a sense of honor,” Benolken said. “I learned a lot from Scouting. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Scouts.”