COVENTRY – Richard Sharkey can not only see the end of the trail after a month of planning and one solid day of labor, he cleared the way.
The Coventry High School senior is in the final stages of working towards receiving his Eagle Scout badge by clearing the path from the Greenway Bike Path behind the Department of Public Works to a cemetery he believes belongs to the Matteson family, just off the path.
He chose this revitalizing project because it improves the community and is pretty close to home and where his Boy Scout Troop 11 meets.
Sharkey said the biggest challenge was making the appropriate rounds to let town officials know what he wanted to do, but said Chuck Smith, director of the Coventry Department of Public Works was a huge help.
“He was very straight-forward with his answers to any questions I had,” said Sharkey.
Sharkey had lots of help from his fellow Troop members and well as a handful of adults to help bring his vision to fruition. In addition to hours of planning the steps he would take, he and his group of volunteers took to the woods and got down to the grunt work of removing heavy weeds, tree limbs, overgrown brush and roping off the cemetery to clearly define the area.
The Eagle Scout badge is the highest honor a Scout can receive where a young man gets the opportunity to reinforce what he has learned about leadership and teamwork in his time as a Scout.
The candidate must pursue this honor before he turns 18 and is required to put together a well thought-out plan with a certain number of hours dedicated to planning and implementing a project to better his community.
“I thought it would be a good project because it’s right next to the horse trail and I believe there’s a Civil War soldier who is also buried there,” said Sharkey, who turns 18 next month.
He’s been in the Scouts since third grade and although many members have left his Troop because they decided it wasn’t for them, he stayed with it and said learning to be more confident and assertive are just a couple of the benefits he has gained through the years.
He believes being involved with the scouting will also benefit him in his future endeavors.
“I’m one of the oldest in my Troop and in some cases, it’s frowned upon to be in the Scouts, so when some of the younger kids feel anxious about fitting in, I try to reassure them that they can follow their own path,” said Sharkey.
His final step is to complete his reports and submit it to the Scouts Council for review.