Community finishes North Huntingdon boy's Scout project
The sun broke through bare tree branches covering a North Huntingdon park trail as dozens of volunteers hammered away and carefully measured wooden planks cut on a chilly Saturday morning.
It was supposed to be the culmination of Michael Sweeney Jr.'s journey to achieve the Eagle Scout rank, but the 17-year-old Norwin High School senior never had the chance to build the fence that was his project.
Volunteers joined members of Boy Scout Troop 252 to complete the fence project at Braddock's Trail in North Huntingdon on Saturday morning. Sweeney became ill and died Sept. 8 before he could complete it. His death appeared to be natural, officials said.
“It's important to finish it in his honor,” said Hunter McGowan, 17, a Boy Scout and friend of Sweeney. “It's important to do it for him and his family.”
Some volunteers took rakes to clear away leaves from the walking trail. Others worked in the dirt to anchor posts for the 100-foot-long split-rail fence along the trail that edges close to a cliff.
The elder Michael Sweeney stood back, watching the progress on his son's project.
“I'm at a loss for words right now,” Sweeney, of North Huntingdon, said. “It's not just the Scouts showing up; it's the shop teachers. It means a lot to me to see those people coming out to support him.”
The project combined two things friends say Sweeney loved — woodworking and being outside.
“He would have been able to do this,” Bob Shuber, a technical-education teacher at Norwin High School said.
Shuber, who taught Sweeney woodworking skills from ninth to the 12th grade, said the teen would take his lunch down to the shop room just so he could spend time there.
“He liked working with his hands,” Shuber said. “He wanted to learn the trade.”
All the materials from the project were donated from local businesses. Many people, including other Boy Scout Troops, showed up to help with construction, said Don Brill, an assistant Scout leader.
“It's extremely heartwarming,” he said. “Mike was a fantastic kid, everything a Scout should be.”
Brill, along with other Scout leaders, are working to finish the paperwork with the national Boy Scouts of America office so that Sweeney will be approved for the Eagle Scout rank posthumously.
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.