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Eagle Scout project fills need at Whitehall library

| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Prospective Eagle Scout Peter Koltas shares a story with children at the Whitehall Public Library, along with Children and Youth Services Librarian Denise Ignasky.
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Prospective Eagle Scout Peter Koltas shares a story with children at the Whitehall Public Library, along with Children and Youth Services Librarian Denise Ignasky.

Libraries always have been part of Peter Koltas' life.

And so has scouting.

So when Koltas, 17, the son of Kathy and David Koltas of Whitehall, was looking for a way to earn his Eagle Scout badge he naturally thought of the Whitehall Public Library.

“My mom is a librarian (at St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School in Whitehall) so we have always been close to the library,” said Koltas, a senior at Central Catholic High School in Oakland.

“The library was just a natural place to ask if they had any potential project ideas. They had always wanted a place to hold outdoor story times, so it made sense.”

To become an Eagle Scout — the highest honor a scout can earn — a scout must do a public service project that benefits the community and shows leadership.

Before going ahead with a project, the scout must obtain approval for the idea and plan from the scoutmaster and a district representative.

In Koltas' case, he began planning his Eagle Scout project in August 2016.

Koltas, a member of Troop 323, which meets at the Baldwin United Methodist Church, began building the library's outdoor space in July.

To fund the project in Brennan Plaza, the small park adjacent to the swimming pool, Koltas solicited monetary and material donations from businesses.

He also received funds from St. Gabriel's church bingo and Friends of the Library, and had a collection jar set up by the library's front desk.

“The people and businesses were generous so I had to foot none of the expense,” said Koltas, adding that he donated leftover money to the library.

“There is a painted sign with a floral design hanging on the fence that says, ‘once upon a time,'” said Koltas, explaining his project.

“There is a bench in front of the fence with a similar pattern painted on it with the words, ‘they lived happily ever after.' This is for the librarian to sit on when they have story times. The kids can sit on pavers which have been put into the ground so the top is at ground level.”

Gravel has been placed underneath, so when it rains the area will not be affected as much, he said.

The space was formally dedicated to the library Oct. 2.

His mother said she could not have been more pleased.

“As a librarian myself, I was thrilled that Peter was able to do a project to benefit our local library.”

“We are very proud of Peter's accomplishments and are blessed to have both an Eagle Scout and a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient (his older sister Julia) in our family,” Kathy Koltas said.

“My husband and I are grateful to all the people there who helped them along the way in their scouting endeavors.”

Paula Kelly, director of the library, said the outdoor space filled a need.

“We've always needed an outdoor space,” Kelly said.

Koltas, who has been in scouting since he was in first grade, said he is applying for an early admission decision at Carnegie Mellon University. He wants to be a business major.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at selliott@tribweb.com, or 412-8712346, oron Twitter @41Suzanne.

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